stickK Review – Would You Put Money on the Line to Achieve Your Goals?

Setting a goal to runHow many of you have set a goal, only to find yourself crashing and burning a few months, or weeks, into the effort?

Perhaps it was a goal to stick to your budget, train for a marathon, lose weight, quit smoking…

Yeah, I’m raising my hand too. I could write a lengthy list of all the goals I have set but haven’t met in years past. Not meeting a goal is not only dispiriting, but it often lowers your confidence about setting and meeting future goals. I know it sure has for me.

A couple of months ago, however, I stumbled onto an online tool that has completely changed the way I look at goal setting. The site is And the service, which is completely free and relies on proven research from the field of behavioral economics, makes it three times more likely that you’ll achieve your goals while helping to stop and overcome procrastination.

How it Works

stickk review logoThe site makes you put something on the line when you set your goal. It could be money, or your reputation (often both). If you don’t accomplish your goal, there’s a real consequence. Either you lose money, or you lose face with your friends and family (because the site lets them know).

Sounds kind of harsh, right? It might be for some people. But research has proven that being held accountable works. Users have seen tremendous success using stickK because the site forces them to own up to their commitment. Unlike a friend or relative (who probably wouldn’t force you to pay up if you don’t meet your goal), the site can’t be cajoled or reasoned with.

An Example

Imagine you want to lose 20 pounds, and you want to keep the weight off for one year. So, you pledge to lose 20 pounds over the next 20 weeks (1 pound per week).

This is where stickK comes in. You fill out a Commitment Contract on the site and pledge to lose 1 pound per week for 20 weeks. Then, you put money on the line. You put, say, $200 in stickk’s escrow account – that’s $10 for every week.

stickk lose weight screen shot example

You then log into the site once per week and update your progress. If you haven’t lost one pound that week, then you lose $10.

But you don’t just lose money if you don’t accomplish your weekly goal. The money goes  to an organization you really can’t stand, from a list of what stickK calls “anti-charities.” Your money might go to the NRA or the Bill Clinton Library, depending on what you pick as your anti-charity. Below is a current list of these controversial “anti-charities” that you can select from:

  • Abortion: Americans United for Life
  • Abortion: NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation
  • Environmental: Nature Conservancy
  • Environmental: The National Center for Public Policy Research
  • Gay Marriage: Freedom to Marry
  • Gay Marriage: Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
  • Gun Control: Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
  • Gun Control: NRA Foundation
  • Political: George W. Bush Presidential Library
  • Political: William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library

You also have the option to give the money to a random charity, friend or foe, or not have any money on the line at all (although that is not recommended).

So, how does stickK know if you’ve actually lost the weight? Well, you can rely on the honor system. Or you can designate a Referee. This is someone in your life who’s going to monitor your progress and let stickK know if you’re keeping your word.

Does It Work?

If you go by the stats on the site, it would appear that stickKworks for a lot of people. Right now, people have put over $5 million on the line to accomplish their goals, and there are over 54,000 active contracts.

I think the idea behind the site is brilliant. Too many times we set a goal, and are wishy-washy about achieving it because there’s no consequences if we fail. Life simply goes on and we aren’t held accountable. stickK can be a great tool to change all of that, especially if your goals relate to health or money. Whether you’re looking to lose weight fast, fit in a daily workout routine for a more healthy lifestyle, set up short term savings goals for purchases using Capital One 360, or achieve long term financial and personal goals, I’m sure stickK can help out.

I’ve been thinking about training for a marathon. And if I decide to make this a goal, I’m definitely going to use stickK to hold me accountable. I know that if I put my money, and my reputation, on the line, I’ll be far more likely to stick to my training schedule – particularly if the money I lose will be funding an organization I can’t stand.

Do you think putting money, and reputation, on the line is an effective way to accomplish a goal? Do you think the site would work for you? Have you tried this or a similar system?

  • Harry

    You may want to check out, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

    • Heather Levin


      Thanks for the link! I’ll definitely give that app a look.

  • retirebyforty

    whaaattt? I don’t think I would like this negative reinforcement. Negativity generally does not help me achieve my goals.

    • Heather Levin


      I know, it’s definitely not for some people. But I think it would be motivating to know that if I don’t keep my word, my money is going to fund a cause I’m not crazy about. Necessity is the mother of invention…I think it does keep many people on track.

      Of course, you can always choose a regular charity for your money to go to, instead of an “anti-charity”. The site gives you the choice.

  • Andrew Jacobson

    This is great. I wrote a post about StickK recently also, if you want to check it out:

    And you should definitely run a marathon! I don’t think you will regret it if you do, but you probably will regret it if you don’t…

    • Heather Levin

      Andrew, thanks for the link, and the encouragement! I’ve resolved to make a decision either way by Jan. 1. If I decide to do it, I’ll be running for Team Hole In the Wall, a non-profit started by Paul Newman that helps send kids with life-threatening illnesses to camp. That fundraising effort, in addition to signing up with StikK, will definitely keep me on track to accomplish my goal!

  • Ryan Knight


    This is a very interesting service and thanks for the review. The anti-charity idea caught me by surprise but the more I think about it the more it makes sense.

    Also, definitely do a marathon. If you take the time to train for it you will have an experience to remember forever.

  • Hans Kuder

    Hi Heather,
    We just launched an alternative to StickK that’s simpler and more focused. Goalfinch ( helps you set up a commitment contract with a minimum number of steps – if you’re on Facebook, you’re already set to go. Goalfinch is laser-focused on helping you achieve your goals by putting money on the line and staying accountable with your Facebook friends. I’d love to get your opinion on our site!

    • Keith Russell

      I don’t know when this was posted, but the link takes me to a suspicious-looking Japanese site. Is the goal-setting site already defunct, or was this just a spam post? Has anyone else been successful?

  • Thomas Lyyvonen

    I guess I just don’t understand…an Economics professor is going to help others with motivation??

    Why consult someone with no background in the study of human behaviour on a subject as complex as what drives us to do what we do-or don’t do?

    I’m thinking a Psychologist would have formal training in exactly this sort of thing.

    I’m also guessing those who succeed with the stickK techniques simply don’t really have much trouble getting motivated anyway, so any push will help, but there will be a number of people who don’t succeed and may be harmed by such rudimentary techniques if they then blame themselves.

    For some reason, when it comes to human behaviour you can have no qualifications at all and no one bats an eyelash.

    As an example of what’s scary about that, imagine getting advice about relationships from someone who didn’t attend a recognized academic college and has had several divorces. Both he and his ex have made millions this way. Their names are Barbara de Angelis and John Gray, and neither have a clue about what actually works.

    Try writing a book about money management without credentials.