Would Nuisance Fees Help?

Okay, let’s play a little game today based on a hypothetical scenario.  Here goes:  You find yourself having dinner with a group of people at a buffet restaurant.  The buffet contains lots of protein, fruit and carbohydrate choices.  There is also a dessert section at the buffet that offers an array of cakes, pies, ice cream gelato and cookies.

First question:  What are the chances of you checking out the dessert section and coming back to the table with several of the items?  My answer for “me”: 100% chance…I would definitely see this as “I am paying for this anyway, it looks great and even though I am kind of stuffed from all the other food I have eaten, I am getting some of these great looking desserts.”

Second question:  If the buffet restaurant did NOT include the dessert bar in the price and you would be charged $20 extra for being able to make your dessert choices, would you still get a dessert?  My answer for “me”:  No way….I am not hungry, I have already spent a good chunk of change on the dinner so forget about getting dessert no matter how great these items look.

Third question:  The restaurant’s price for the buffet does not include the dessert bar but there is a “slight” upcharge for being able to access those desserts.  What price would be the determining factor for you that would provide the “green light”, i.e. “yes” to the dessert bar or “red light” i.e. no go…you do not want to spend the extra $$$ for dessert?  For me?  Probably anything more than $5 bucks would be the “nay” and a number below $5 dollars would be the “yea”.

The point: A “nuisance” fee or “upcharge” is often a deterrent for most people based on what they are desirous of.  In the weight control field, “nuisance fees” actually help people because they may thwart a behavioral pattern that would derail weight control efforts.  Another example of this would be a “drink package” thrown in as a freebie to a cruise package as opposed to paying for each drink consumed separately.  The chances are high that the “pay per drink” person will consume far less than the person that has an ‘all you can drink” aspect to their package.

So, how about this?  Let’s all create our own “nuisance fee” program:   Every time you reach for a pantry/freezer/work desk or other food/drink item that you know is derailing to your weight control, place $5 bucks in a jar.  Once you collect $100 bucks, send this money to the charity of your choice.  Keep doing this over and over again.  Although it is great giving $$$ to charities, perhaps the drain on your cash flow will start impacting your choices to reach for those foods/drinks that are hurting your wallet AND hurting your health.  Perhaps you will stop buying those food/drink items at all that will have the impact of you saving even more money from the purchase as well as the nuisance fees.

Changing behaviors that have their basis on human nature is not easy.  However, we must break some of these to achieve long term health and happiness.