Welcome to another Wednesday Debt Discussion! If you’re new around here, you might want to take a peek at what we’ve been discussing lately.
Now that we’ve decided to be open about debt, made sure we aren’t adding to our debt, set a debt-free date along with some smaller goals, budgeted and made sacrifices to help us achieve our goals, and decided on a way to track our debt pay-off, we need to be held accountable.
When you have a goal, whether it’s to lose weight, train for a marathon or get out of debt, you will be much more successful if you are accountable to someone besides yourself. You need an accountability partner. An accountability partner is a cheerleader and a coach. While accountability partners will cheer your successes, they also need to know your goals and hold you to them. They need to take the initiative to check up on you, not just wait for you to go to them.
Choose your accountability partner carefully. Choose someone who you can trust with your goals and financial details. Find someone who is like-minded and wise. Ask someone who you respect, who you won’t want to disappoint.
You already have people or institutions that you are naturally accountable to. You may want to choose one of them to be your accountability partner. If not, we will discuss some other options.
Let’s talk first about who you are naturally accountable to.
Obviously you are accountable to your lender for what you owe, whether it’s invisible Sallie Mae or a close relative. The feeling of accountability widely varies, from those who avoid the lender in hopes that the debt will disappear to those who pay in full without fail.
For those who regularly use credit cards but do not have consumer debt, the accountability felt toward your lender may be all you need to stay out of debt. If you have debt and a goal to get out of debt, you will need another form of accountability besides your monthly statements from your lender.
You may not think you have investors besides the one who loaned you money in the first place, but you very well may. Is there someone else involved in your debt and debt repayment? Is someone else invested in your goal to be debt-free?
For us, it’s my husband’s parents. They currently let us live in their basement rent-free. They are generously offering these accommodations so that we can get out of debt faster. While they never ask for financial details and we usually don’t offer them, we still feel accountable to them. We don’t want to waste this great opportunity to turn our finances around. Being responsible with our finances is a way that we show our gratitude for their generosity and sacrifice.
If you have a spouse or children, it is natural to feel accountable to them for your financial choices. Healthy family relationships require open communication and a feeling unity. Feeling accountable to your family is powerful. I can’t think of a better motivator to get your finances in order than to provide for your family.
It’s not a secret that financial problems in marriage can put serious strains on relationships. Pushing away the natural feelings of being accountable to your family leads to selfishness and greed. Lack of communication about finances will lead to secrecy and dishonesty.
Do whatever you can to open the lines of communication in your family. Spouses can make wonderful accountability partners.
Would any of these people make a good accountability partner? If none of the people who you are naturally accountable to will work as an accountability partner, you can create other forms of accountability.
In some cases, you may want to pull in someone else to be your accountability partner. If you aren’t married, you could choose a good friend, co-worker, or family member.
Even if your spouse is your main accountability partner, you could also ask a friend to help you with a specific aspect of your goal, such as not eating out, or not buying new clothes. If you and your spouse have the same financial weaknesses, it might be useful to have another person be an accountability partner for the two of you together.
When choosing someone who you aren’t naturally accountable to, be sure to let them know what you would like them to do, otherwise they may feel they are overstepping their bounds.
If you don’t mind having others judge you, you can go a little more public with your goals. You could post your goals and progress on social media or on your blog. Be sure to be honest and share both successes and struggles.
For some people, sharing personal finances and goals publicly will be motivating and just the pressure they need. For others, it won’t work well and is not a substitute for a personal coach and cheerleader. Do whatever fits your personality and needs best. If you are married, be sure to talk with your spouse before sharing personal financial details with the world!
It’s Your Turn!
- Who is your accountability partner?
- How has accountability helped you reach your goals?
- What other forms of accountability have worked well for you?
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