Automation is one of the most important tricks to getting your finances in order. Having auto-deposits to a retirement or other investment account and transfers to a savings account are proven to get people to save more, while auto-bill pay can help individuals cut back on late fees and boost their credit scores.
But you can’t do everything on your own. Having someone to hold you accountable is just as important.
That could mean a friend you run impulse purchases past before you make them, or a significant other with whom you’re sharing a financial goal.
The important part of this is to let people know when you have a goal so they can help you reach it. Here’s one example, about a couple who managed to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in debt by letting friends in on the plans, from CNBC:
As soon as [David and Meg Cahill] committed to paying off their loans aggressively, “we actually sat down with our friends and told them about the ambitious plans that we had and asked them to provide us accountability,” Cahill says.
It was the smartest move they made during their debt repayment journey, he says: “The support that we got from them — the texts and phone calls of encouragement — really made a difficult experience for us that much more gratifying.”
Plus, getting their friends on board right away made it easier to decline social activities that came with a price tag. “They were really supportive and understood that we couldn’t go out for drinks or go bowling on a Friday night,” Cahill says.
Your buddy can be anyone — and there are apps you can use, too — but ideally, he or she is someone you trust, whose feedback you won’t take personally, and who’s on the same page as you. So if you’re trying to cut back on extraneous expenses, for example, you don’t want to pick the friend who goes out every weekend. If you’re saving for your first kid, picking someone who’s been there before and can provide guidance in tough times would be helpful.
Once you’ve selected your buddy, set a schedule for check-ins. Maybe it’s every day, every week or whenever the impulse to buy something strikes, noted above. Put a reminder in both or your phone calendars, and decide ahead of time if you’ll meet in person, over the phone or via email.
Even better, start early. Be your child’s accountability buddy so you can teach them about money and how it works.
Going into the holidays or gearing up for the New Year is a perfect time to get a better handle on where your money’s going.