Garren Katz on Using Rewards to Achieve Personal Finance Goals

In Chapter 13 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, business and personal coach Garren Katz answers "How Do You Set Personal Finance Goals?"  Katz talks about how he sends small amounts of money to his investments by playing games.  In short, he tries to match his spending on travel, restaurants, etc. with equal amounts to his investments.  He finds playing the game emotionally rewarding and also highly effective reaching his goals. 

Garren Katz is a business and personal coach based in State College, PA and advises his national client base on small business management, entrepreneurship, relationships, and personal finances.  He is also an active angel investor in several business ventures.  He earned his BA from Western Michigan University. 


Erik Michielsen How do you set personal finance goals?

Garren Katz: I don’t necessarily like sending big chunks of money off to my investments. To me, emotionally, it feels like it just kind of disappears into my investments, so for me, I’ll play a game where say for every trip that I plan for a year, whatever the trip cost, I will put—I will send an equal amount off to my investment. So, if India was a $2500-trip, let’s say, I will send $2500 off to the investment, and so in essence, emotionally, it feels like I’ve taken a $5000-trip. I’m having the experience, I make a connection to that great experience with the $5000 and so sending that money off, it feels different emotionally, it works well for me.

Or even a purchase, even smaller things, you know. Anytime I go out to dinner, whatever the meal cost, I will send an equal amount to my investments, and in this day and age obviously with—it’s so easy to do, it’s not hard at all to hop online and send off $75, so that might not seem, you know, significant to someone, but I go out to dinner a lot so, you know, it adds up and all of a sudden it’s—it can be 3, 4, $500 a month that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and so that’s a game I like to play. I like to connect something like investing to something that I can enjoy in the moment and meld them together. So it feels I’m excited to invest. I’m not looking out on that time horizon of 20 or 30 years before I’m going to reap those benefits. To me, it’s—I get that satisfaction, that reward instantly because, in essence, I’m playing a game with myself.