Anyone have success using some type of rewards system with an adult?

My husband's ADD treatment is continuing to go well and we seem to be at a point where it is getting easy to see progress. 

For example, it is tax season and we are self-employed and there have been arguments over Eric not getting me the paperwork that I need to organize the blue million forms/invoices/receipts that I need to get our taxes done promptly.  Each year we get a little better, and while I was still irritated at how quickly he ditched his plan to 'get you everything immediately at the end of each quarter so that I don't have a bunch to do at once and I don't get you behind'--yeah never did it once, but this year has been the best ever in terms of gathering what is needed.  We have to wait on 1099s, so we can never organize anything till Feb 1 anyway (and one of our bosses is definitely ADD himself and we have had to wait all the way till MARCH for his 1099 before!!  But Eric has all his stuff to me before the 1099s stopped coming in, so really he never held me up at all....SUCCESS!!!

So anyway I think we are ready to tackle some of the less serious but still irritating things that come up.  For example, in going through our paperwork I realized that my husband, who already buys himself WAY too much fast food while out working--way too much budget wise and also more importantly health-wise--managed to spend an extra $100 over what he spent last year on fast food.  Naturally $100 over the course of the year is not gonna make or break our budget, but since he was already eating too much of the crap, we need something to keep him on target as far as budget/health goals.  He seems to REALLY struggle to keep a budget goal in mind enough for it to over rule his immediate desire.....especially for something like fast food, which he considers a TREAT for working hard....if it isn't actively discussed once a week.

Now I'm gonna be honest and say that quite frankly I feel I have MUCH better things to do with my time and life than sit down with hubby and discuss why he needs to not eat fast food all week.   And yes we do the whole having healthy snacks in the house he could take instead (does sometimes) and making extra at meal time so that he can take actual food (does sometimes), but I think the problem is basically all TREAT FOCUSED in his mind.  He feels like he is working when he may not want to be and thus he deserves a treat for doing so.

He has the problem with Adderall killing his appetite, so sometimes I feel like he only eats a small amount of nutritious food on a big work day, but he seems to have a limitless appetite for McDonalds and cokes.....neither good for nutrition nor for ADD as far as the caffeine.

BUT...he is an adult.  And he has the right to decide what to eat if he wants to......the problem is that it doesn't seem to fit with his LONG TERM health plans.....the ratio of his good/bad cholesterol is a little too close together though both levels are good.  He says he wants to exercise more together and get more fit, but then he is out at work and all his intentions go out the window cause he sees those darn Golden Arches....or Jack in the Box....or god forbid Sonic--he goes THERE for breakfast a couple times a month!!

I have been reading quite a bit about ADD for children because I am suspicious about my nephew....poor boy has something as he is inattentive as can be and his genetics are ROUGH on SIL's side........and I keep reading and reading about how everything should be postive and rewards-related.  Now I am NOT calling my adult husband a child nor do I want to treat him as such, but we have done other reward-based systems short a couple times a year we compete with my mom, and now my sister too, with points we allow for house cleaning and he loves racking up those points!

Also a few years ago when we were pretty new to coaching, we were trying to establish the habit of using his personal calendar and checking it every day.  I was going to buy him a large flat screen monitor that he was  jonesing to have for our anniversary in October anyway, but I offered to let him get it up to 4 months early as soon as he could check his calendar for 30 days in a row....if he missed a day, he'd have to start over.  He did it all in one shot!!  Then the habit immediately started falling off once he had his monitor :(

All this to say that rewards seem to work well.....and it doesn't seem to matter so much if it is points for cleaning or credit days toward a new monitor.  I wouldn't be interested in making a big financial commitment to anything....I mean you can only own so many computer monitors...but I think some how using a reward system to increase his blow money would be something he'd love........but I don't want to contribute to anything that involves him buying more cokes and fast food (which a lot of his current blow money goes toward once I tell him he's used his budget out of our joint funds).


Suggestions anyone??  Successes??

:( Many reads but no suggestions

Anyway, we are gonna try it as we both think it could be a good thing, and I approached it with him as being something we should both do so that he doesn't get the idea that I am trying to *fix* him like he is broken.

Current plan...and feel free to give to set healthy eating and exercise goals for which we will each receive points for what we do positively and lose points for bad choices.  I tried to sell the idea of losing points for every coke, but he was horrified LOL.  I guess there will be a limit and he'll lose points for anything over.  And for me it is salty/fatty junk that I like, so we both have the ability to both gain and lose points.

We have both agreed to the basic framework but not how many points would get earned per activity nor what you would receive once you accumulated a certain amount of points.   Will update when I have news of how it goes if anyone is interested :)

Good Luck

I hope your plan is working and you both are getting healthier.

The trouble is, ADD or not, it is impossible to control what another person puts in his or her own body.  Be it drugs, alcohol, or candy - it is not under your control.

I know for me (being the ADHD spouse myself) if my husband was 'keeping score' with 'lost points' for something like a coke, it would not work at all.  I hate competition of any kind, really and so the points system would drive me nuts.

But... hopefully it'll work for you guys!

Thanks Ellamenno

It is actually going great.   We go with points because my husband likes immediate gratification of earning something every time he does something good.  We aren't competing with each other as we're both earning our own points regardless of what the other does, so we can freely cheer each other on.


We wanted to keep it fairly simple, so we chose about 4 health/exercise/scheduling goals that we struggle with doing consistently.  We get points for each of these we accomplish in a due to the way it is set up we each get easy points.  For example, I don't really struggle with the things he does. so those are pretty easy points for me and vice versa for him on the things that are harder for me.  I think there are about 8-10 ways to gain points daily and only 3 ways to lose them--only one of these is daily and the other 2 are weekly so it is basically impossible not to earn any points for a day. 

We lose points by eating fast food more than 2x per week (his choice as I wanted to lose points any fast food) and you lose points if you drink more than 32 oz of coke in a week (again his choice as I feel we should lose points for any since there is no nutritional value) and the person who didn't cook dinner can also lose points if he/she doesn't put the dishes in the dishwasher and put the food away.

There is an opportunity for $100 per month of blow money to be earned based on the points you gain.  We are finishing up our 2 week trial and neither of us earned as many points as I expected, but we'll both be getting some cash so maybe that will keep us motivated to do it.


P.S.  I thought it was interesting that you commented on the impossibility of trying to control what another person puts into/does with their body.  (which by the way I agree with but isn't at all what I am trying to do).  I actually see it as a way to reward us for making the good choices we keep talking about wanting to make.  I am not trying to MAKE him want to be healthier....we both want to be healthier but our schedules make it hard as we are on the run the biggest part of our days.   I am going to re-read my initial post and see if I can figure out where the control sense has come from.

For some reason my husband is one of those who will do almost anything for praise and rewards.  It is the fuel that keeps him going as long as the reward is fairly immediate.

That's great, Aspen

... glad it's working...

I guess I overestimated the fast-food problem from your first post... ( and ummmmm....  misreading, misunderstanding or just plain forgetting something i've read is a huge issue for me anyway!) If it's something he actually WANTS to change, then he'll do better with a cheerleader than if he is the type who is determined to get a cheeseburger & fries fix because he feels he deserves it.  I guess I thought if the 'cheeseburger reward' is what he really wants, he may try to cheat or lie about the points.  But it seems like you've found a fun solution.

Riddle me this:  a few months ago I really wanted to buy some CDs.  Three CDs to be exact (or, downloads, if you will)  Total cost $36 download or $23 if I bought the used CDs I found on Amazon.  We are always low on money, and 'treats' for myself are very, very rare.  Neither of us are careless with money and I cannot remember buying anything in the last 3 years that I didn't actually need.  When I asked DH if it was ok if i ordered the used CDs (free shipping) he got annoyed and said no.  Now, like your husband, my husband likes 'treats' from time to time (maybe 2-3 times a month) so he buys ice cream and sometimes a beer from the supermarket down the block.  (I never do this, since I earn far less than he does and therefore feel like I can't just recklessly go out and buy frozen desserts without a discussion and purchase approval ahead of time).  Sometimes he'll get a couple pints of ice cream and a beer for me and himself.  now, we live in an expensive place, so the ice cream is $12 and the beer is $2.70 per bottle.  I keep pointing out that he could buy a CASE of beer at say, Costco for half of what it costs to get the same thing at the little grocery store... but... I digress.

so... one evening he comes back with beer and ice cream, like he does...  I said no thanks when he offered me some ice cream and I left the beer in the fridge and took the receipt out of the bag and put it on the fridge.  He asked me why I wanted the receipt and I told him I was going to return the beer the next day for the $2.70, so that eventually I'd have the $23 I needed for the CDs.  And, I didn't eat any ice cream because that way it would last say 3-4 days instead of 2.  Now this seemed like simple mathematics to me, but he seemed to think I was being ridiculous and said, "Aw, just drink the damn beer!"

Since I so often misunderstand other people's emotions or intentions I figured I must've missed something.... but i'm stumped.  Anyone? 

I hear you on needing to WANT to change

but the truth is I honestly don't think he even likes the fast food all that much....he just likes feeling like he gets a treat for working.  And he really really likes to spend cash, so thus far being able to earn cash for making healthy choices seems like it is working.

I know once the freshness wears off, it could get much harder; but my husband really does love his blow money--possibly because the things he wants to buy often seem so ridiculous to me that this way there doesn't have to be a discussion of why you want to spend real money for electronic items in a virtual game world.......I mean like !?!??!

As for your situation with your husband.  It sounds to me like you need to have a little bit of blow money for yourself.  Even if it was $10 a month, you can control where it goes and it goes on your priority.  It doesn't seem fair that your husband can regularly spend a little mad money, but you never have that right.  We have had that same argument here, and what I think is unfair is that I usually don't spend my blow money (I was only taking $20 every 2 weeks) and hubby was overspending his, so my blow money always seemed to go to cover his overage so that our joint budget didn't have to pay for his whims.

Now my husband has gotten leaps and bounds better in the impulsive spending department, but he still has a hard time keeping it under budget--I genuinely think this is because he doesn't usually carry cash (he spends cash SO fast) and he underestimates what he has used the debit card for.  I am hoping the new plan will fix this.

BUT all that was to say that my husband is never, ever the one to tell me that I can't buy something that I want.  He'd like me to buy what I want the second I see it because he is aware of how lopsided things get in our family as far as spending, but I also do the budget and I refuse to ever ever ever be the person that causes our budget not to balance so for me it is more than just is wanting and being aware there is extra money that hasn't already gone for an extra need we have in the household or an extra whim that hubby has.

I think it is only fair for ppl who work to at least get equal say over fun money.....lets face it, we don't all think the same things are fun.  Your husband seems to see the ice cream/beer as a fun little ritual for the two of you.  The only reason I could see him getting upset is that he feels you are opting out of the fun ritual....not that I blame you if it is the only way to get something you want for yourself.  I suspect he just sees no reason for the CDs and thinks they are a wasteful purchase, and doesn't understand why you wouldn't feel the same.  I think I have been guilty of this attitude with the fake items in the virtual world.......who would want such a stupid thing??  Guess what, HE DOES and he works hard and has a right to decide some things that money goes on too.

I am just saying that I think that is unfair that your husband thinks he gets to decide where ALL the extra money goes.  And I also think it is unfair to say (with his actions and not necessarily out loud) that his treats are more important than yours.  I honestly don't think it should have a thing to do with who earns more, as at least in our family, everything is joint bills and joint income.  I do think there needs to be some attempts to tame the person who tends to spend more because the other person may at times feel like you and me that we don't get to choose fun things we enjoy as much as our mate.

I guess I don't see that you missed anything.  I think his feelings were hurt you didn't want to have ice cream and beer with him as that was the treat he brought to you, but if he won't let you get the CDs you want without finding the money somewhere else, I can't see that you had any other choice.

My one other question is:  Is it possible that he is planning to buy the CDs for you?  Sometimes when I have a surprise coming for something that my husband wants, I might sound a little cold about why I don't think he should get it....but I am just trying to get him to stop thinking about it/mentioning it until the item gets here.  I love to buy him presents :)

Fun money...

Well, DH has never said that only he gets to decide about spending or really implied that his treats are more important than mine, but I guess I just KNOW that CDs are not something i NEED, and I don't argue about the ice cream and beer when he gets them because, honestly it's difficult for me to not cave in and say 'ice cream! beer! hurray!"  As for him being hurt because it's a fun ritual that we share, I dunno....  he comes home with the treats and sits with his laptop watching a video or reading something, so it's not like he engages me anyway.  If it was something where he'd come home with the ice cream/beer and we'd sit and chat together on the couch, then yes, I'd feel like i was ruining a ritual. 

Also, he HATES the music I like.  Actually, he doesn't like any music really (well, perhaps he likes some, but not enough to actually listen to it).  He finds this particular artist to be annoying and describes his music is just 'a lot of earnest guitar-strumming and even more earnest lyrics.'  I admit it's squishy, but i really like it and I was happy to find something I like because about 2 years ago I got rid of nearly all my CDs and stopped listening to music entirely (kind of disturbing to me, since I have a Masters' degree in Music, and I am a professional singer/performer).  So, I dunno.  


Maybe I'll be getting a surprise soon?

hope you're right!


Music is my ally...

Without even discussing the whole money side for a moment, Music has ALWAYS been my buffer and means of decompression long before I had any idea it was coping mechanism. Music is also part of my memory. Music triggers memories of specific times in my life. I can hear a song and suddenly thoughts come rushing back to me that I have not thought of in years. Being a musician, of sorts, music is not really something that is just expendable from my daily life. I need music to block out the noise and it is how I decompress during my daily commute. I actually enjoy my drive, unless traffic is just cRaZy. My DW likes almost NOTHING I listen too, and prefers talk radio for her commute. Needless to say, we don't ride together very often.

I understand that my music could easily be an additional treat that gets totally out of hand. Too easy for an un-treated ADDer to press the "Download" button. It does seem that a reasonable Fun Money budget could be agreed to with your DH. Maybe one album a month? Maybe your DH, like my DW, did not know how important music can be to distracted musicians, like my DW (I had to explain this to her at one point)? Like most of us ADDer's, I've had my trouble with spending money and thank goodness my treatment is rendering the assist with this issue ;)

I believe that no matter how tight the budget is, there is some way to have a "Sanity Fund". Obviously adjusted when needed.