“I’ve joined a gym,” said a friend and colleague. We agreed that this was a good thing, then she said that she hoped she’d keep it up. Cue my Inner Economist.

“What you need is something that’ll hurt if you don’t go,” I said. “Like a contract, and if you don’t go, you pay me.”

Not much happened for a couple of weeks and then she raised it again, and I agreed to help out by taking her money. Her goal is to go three times a week. So I drew up a sliding scale of penalties. Miss one session and it hardly hurts. Miss two, and it hurts more than twice as much a missing one. Miss three and you’re in a whole world of pain. We agreed exceptions for sickness and duty travel, and everything seemed fine.

Then I thought I’d add a little incentive: when the pain tops $25, I'll put it towards another Kiva microloan.

That messed everything up, because my colleague, sharp as a tack, pointed out that because she thought this was a good idea, it could be an incentive for her deliberately to miss workouts in order to lend money through Kiva.

I promised to spend it on booze and broads. (Of course, I’ll lie about that and microlend it anyway; she’ll never twig.)

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