On and off over the years I’ve had gym buddies I could rely
upon to keep me showing up for workouts even when my inner couch
potato was itching for another hour of Netflix.
Yet it never occurred to me that the same buddy system could be
applied to my financial challenges.
Not until a recent playdate at McDonald’s, that is, when I
confessed to a good friend — who’s far more financially savvy
than I — what serious debt I’ve accumulated recently. Within 30
minutes, as our kids screeched with glee on the jungle gym, she had
mapped out a detailed action plan for my financial recovery. And we
agreed to check-in on my progress at regular intervals moving
forward. Insert fist-bump here, because yes, that’s really how we
wrapped up our little financial chit-chat over French fries and
single mom who doesn’t have a partner to discuss finances
with (or to rein me in during my most impulsive moments, which I
sheepishly admit are all too frequent), this was just the lifeline
I needed. I had officially found a financial buddy.
The thing is, most Americans are too embarrassed to talk about
money. A recent
survey by LendingClub found that Americans are nearly twice as
likely to talk with others about marital or relationship issues
than credit card debt.
“In today’s connected world, people talk publicly about a
variety of topics that used to be private – from sexual
orientation to political affiliation – but money remains the last
taboo,” said Steve Allocca, president of LendingClub. “This
silence compounds the issues and poor financial health negatively
impacts other key areas in people’s lives, causing many to feel
shame or isolation. We need to remove the stigma and start engaging
in conversations more openly on financial health.”
As a society we need to shed ourselves of this hang-up about
money once and for all. There’s good reason to do so: A
2014 study by Dominican University of California backs up the
value of the buddy system with science.
As part of the study, psychology professor Gail Matthews
discovered that participants who sent weekly updates to a friend
about their goals were far more likely to achieve what they set out
to do. In fact, the group of study participants who were asked to
formulate action commitments and send their goals, action
commitments, and weekly progress reports to a supportive friend
achieved significantly more than other study participants who did
not engage in such behavior.
More than 70 percent reported completely accomplishing their
goals or being more than halfway there compared to 35 percent of
those who kept goals to themselves and didn’t even write them
The moral of the story? If your finances are not what they
should be, it may be time to find a financial buddy of your own.
With that in mind, here are some tips from financial professionals
about how to get your financial buddy system going, and who makes a
good money buddy.
In her book “Wealthy
by Choice: Choosing Your Way to a Wealthier Future,”
certified financial planner Ilene Davis dedicates a chapter to the
concept of establishing a financial buddy system — or rather,
creating an entire posse of financial cheerleaders.
Titled “Millionaire in the Making Support Group,” the
chapter provides an ideal road map for those in search of the tools
to establish and maintain a financial support system.
“Start talking to friends about your goals,” advises Davis.
“You turn to someone and say, ‘Are you doing anything about
retirement?’ If they say no, say, ‘Is it something you have
thought about, because I’m looking for someone to help me stick
to my game plan and doing it alone is really tough. I’m looking
for people who might have similar goals and we help each other make
If you’re feeling really bold or adventurous, you might even
consider creating a Millionaire in the Making Meetup group or
The key is to surround yourself with people who have similar
goals, said Davis, adding that when you hang around with
individuals who are constantly buying the latest gadgets or a new
car all the time, then it’s likely you’ll follow a similar
But creating a support group of like-minded people or
identifying a single buddy can help you stay on track in multiple
ways. “If you’re tempted to buy something you don’t need,
you’ll have someone to call who can help you understand why
it’s not a good idea,” continued Davis.
What’s more, you can organize frugal approaches to
entertainment and outings with these same individuals, further
helping you to reach your goals.
“You can plan events that allow you to have fun together, but
not necessarily spend money,” said Davis. “For example, instead
of going out to the movies, and probably spending $10 to $20 each,
get a group together, rent a movie, and put a couple dollars in for
pizza or subs, to share.”
The Nuts and Bolts
studies have shown that the best exercise partner is someone
who’s about 40 percent more fit than you are, because he or she
will actually motivate you to work out longer and harder.
“That principle can be directly applied to your budget and
financial health,” says Sara Skirboll, of the coupon and savings
site RetailMeNot. “Look
for a budget buddy who has a strong budget in place and a history
of smart financial choices – this will help inspire you on your
Once you’ve identified that person, establish your financial
goals and then sit down together to map out a plan for one month,
three months and six-months-worth of benchmarks to get you to those
“You should align these times with check-ins with your budget
buddy – the accountability of having your buddy will motivate you
to actually accomplish your smaller goals as you aim to reach your
big goal,” said Skirboll.
It Can Really Work
Sha’Kreshia Terrell is living proof that the buddy system pays
She and her accountability partner have gotten rid of a
staggering $70,000 worth of debt since joining forces in 2016 to
help each other achieve financial goals.
An accounting clerk and founder and CEO of Humble Hustle Finance,
27-year-old Terrell had accumulated about $45,000 of that debt on
credit cards and car loans, while her friend had accrued about
At the beginning of each month, Terrell and her partner write
down a list of clear goals they want to achieve before month’s
end and send them to one another.
“We do this because it’s easy to get distracted in life and
when motivation is lost throughout the journey, the other partner
is there to help get oneself back on track,” she explained.
When they need still more inspiration to remain focused, Terrell
and her friend get up on a Saturday morning and hit some open
houses, daydreaming about owning a home themselves someday, and
then head home to write down their plans to make those dreams a
The duo has also learned to recognize each other’s spending
triggers over the years.
“If I see a deal that I know she will fall for, I quickly pull
out my phone and send her a text to remind her of her goals and to
motivate her to move past the deal, vice versa,” said Terrell.
“We talk daily. Our conversations have gone from talking about
going out to eat or shopping to talking about goals and what we
want out of life.”
All of the effort has paid off. Of that original $45,000 in
debt, Terrell now owes a mere $3,500. The finish line is finally
within striking distance and Terrell says she wouldn’t have made
it nearly as far, as fast, without her buddy.
“It probably would have taken me a lot longer without her
because it’s hard to motivate myself. We’re kind of there to
motivate each other and remind each other,’” she explained.
“I wish more people would be comfortable talking about their
financial situation, rather than being embarrassed. You have to
find that trustworthy friend or partner who can motivate you when
times get hard.”
More by Mia
Key Conversations You Need to Have Before Retirement
Five Situations Where Money and Emotions Don’t Mix
Your Mortgage to Pay Off Student Loans: Tempting, But Use
Source: FS – All-News2-Economy
Need Some Money Motivation? Try the Buddy System