A bet you can win and lose: Diet Web sites offer monetary weight-loss motivation

I shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve managed to monetize just about everything. Now there are Web sites that let users bet they can lose weight. So if they lose, they win.

“Thanks to websites like DietBet, FatBet and HealthyWage, you can bet on yourself to lose weight — hit your target and you win cash, or miss it and pay up,” wrote Amir Khan, the health and wellness reporter for U.S. News and World Report.

Khan says the sites have different terms and payouts, but generally this is how they work: You put in money, upload a photo of yourself on a scale and try to hit your weight goal. It’s also a group exercise. You join a group of people who are also trying to lose weight.

For example: On Dietbet.com you can join a Kickstarter group in which you have four weeks to lose 4 percent of your starting weight. As part of the group, everyone puts money into the pot, and after four weeks, whoever has hit their goal splits the money. There are approved referees to make sure people aren’t cheating.

“Who enjoys the embarrassment and humiliation of losing a bet?” Fatbet asks on its Web site. Like other sites, Fatbet doesn’t require people to reveal how much they weigh, just how much they want to lose.

Color of Money question of the week

I’m so cheap, I doubt I would wager money to lose weight. We vacationed in Las Vegas recently, and my husband and I together gambled a total of $3. But I want to hear from you. What do you think of people betting as an incentive to lose weight? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “A Bet You Can Win and Lose” in the subject line. Please include your full name, city and state.

Live online chat today

Join me today for a discussion about money. I’ll take your financial questions, and I have a guest today: personal finance reporter Jonnelle Marte, who helped create Get There, a new blog on wealth and retirement for The Washington Post. A recent story on the blog by Marte on whether parents should also save for their child’s retirement generated quite a bit of buzz.

So, what would you like to see on this new destination page about how money affects our lives? Submit your questions and join the conversation here.

Can’t wait to spend

The buzz in my house is about the reported new Apple iPhone 6. My husband and kids are excited. I’m exasperated. And, trust me, I won’t be one of the ones rushing to spend more money for the new phone.

Already people have begun to line up at an Apple store in New York. One couple was reportedly paid $1,250 by two others to secure the top spots weeks in advance, reported Tom Warren, writing for the Verge.

Apple will be holding an event on Sept. 9, which folks believe will be the announcement for the new phone. But even then the phones won’t hit stores until a week or two later, reported Jillian D’Onfro for Business Insider.

“They’re out there, and they don’t even know what they’re waiting for yet,” an Apple Store employee told the Business Insider. “We haven’t announced anything.”

College degrees that underpay

Last week, I asked you to weigh in on survey results from PayScale, a salary information firm that found that employees with certain majors — sociology, criminal justice, philosophy or English — are more likely to say they are underemployed.

I specifically asked what advice you would give a college student that would help in finding a job.

Here’s one e-mail that struck me right away.

“I’ve served as an adviser for a lot of students at a pretty highly-ranked private liberal arts school and see a distressing pattern that I fear could be infecting students much more broadly than at my institution: students primarily in search of what’s easy,” wrote Daniel J. Epstein, assistant professor of political science at Colgate University. “When advising on classes and majors, many students complain that the suggestions will be too hard for them, or that it will be too hard to get a good grade. These are usually the students who end up majoring in the areas that came in for criticism from PayScale, and they choose these degrees not because they were really interested or passionate about them, but because they thought/heard that they would provide an easy path through college.”

Thomas J. Druitt of Paducah, Ky., wrote: “My word of advice to a college undergrad would be to choose as a major a subject or field that you find hard and challenging instead of one that you find easy and a breeze.”

“My advice is that it is better to sometimes take an entry-level job you may be overqualified for so you can get your foot in the door with a business,” wrote Robert L. Erney, a fixed asset manager in Indianapolis. “I started out with a salary in the high teens; within six months of demonstrating my capabilities a new position was created for me, and my salary jumped 40 percent.”

“When hiring, I always look for students who have done summer internships. You must do at least two summer internships in college,” wrote John Strohm of Rockville, Md. “If you have a long winter break, a winter internship or two is a good idea also. Plus, if you find that all of the internships in your desired field are unpaid, you should probably switch majors.”

But Mona Nahavandi of Vienna, Va., wrote: “It’s not good enough to land a good internship; they need to perform with excellence in their internship. All this is more important than the college you attend (in most cases) and the grades you get in college. Experience and good connections/recommendations trumps all.”

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”
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