Financial goals are an important part of reaching a well-rounded, successful, and comfortable life. But achieving them isn’t easy. Especially if you get anxious thinking too much about where your money is coming from and going, or if checks and balances leave you cross-eyed!
As if that were not enough, financial goals become even more daunting if you’re a business owner, and you have to plan not just for yourself, but for your colleagues, clients, and the future of your company.
As the name suggests, a financial accountability partner is someone who makes sure you’re thinking about your finances, making plans to save, investing, and spending wisely – and most importantly, makes sure you stay motivated till you hit your goal.
Why you need a financial accountability partner
In general, accountability partners (in our admittedly biased opinion!) are key to achieving your goals. And when it comes to money goals, it gets trickier. Financial goals take a while to accomplish. You're probably not going to hit your savings target in a week. You're probably not even going to get the habit of saving money cemented in a week! And accustomed as we are to immediate gratification, in a world that is positively teeming with dopamine hits and rewards of every variety, when we see that our hard work is not paying off immediate rewards, it's very easy to get demotivated.
Here's why you need an accountability buddy to hold you to your financial goals:
To avoid procrastination: Having someone kind of watching you and monitoring your progress ensures you sit up and get the work done.
To stay on track: A partner will make sure you’re not stopping, slowing down or straying from your path and being productive and consistent.
To get motivated: If you’re feeling unsure or negative about your progress, having someone to provide encouraging words will help.
To learn new things: If your partner is someone with more experience or expertise in certain areas of personal finance, they can help you learn helpful strategies and provide a different perspective on your financial plans. If they're keen on developing their financial management skills, that's amazing – money management is more fun when you learn together!
To get feedback: Someone who is aware of your goals and how you’re trying to achieve them will be able to give you their honest opinion on your progress and what you can do to improve it.
Benefits of a financial accountability partner
Greater chances of success: Being accountable to your goals will result in you sticking to them and making sure they’re achieved.
Constant motivation: You’ll have someone to encourage you to keep making progress, even when the results seem to be slow.
Someone to share the journey: You won’t feel like you’re taking up something too difficult or monumental by yourself.
Things to look for in a financial accountability partner
Even if a good partner does not have everything figured out, you need someone who is clear about their own goals to motivate and inspire you.
Trusting someone with your financial plan, particularly if it is for business and involves other people too, is a big deal. Make sure you can depend on your partner. Many people rely on a friend or family member – or a professional – to ensure trust in the relationship.
Your partner must be consistent in their role of supporting you and keeping you on track for your goals. They cannot keep missing your time together, slack on work, or stop keeping you accountable. Remember, it's a two way relationship, and works based on peer pressure. Make sure your partner is as committed to the goal as you are!
It really helps when you and your accountability partner are aiming for somewhat similar goals. It's easier to share honestly, compare notes, and create a strong bond with someone who's also on the same path as you. If they're way ahead of you – or just starting their journey when you've been at it for months, you find yourself unable to relate to them. The right person for you probably has similar spending habits and long-term goals.
Honesty and positivity
For your partnership to work, you need someone who’s honest in the feedback and advice they’re passing on, as well as they’re being encouraging about what you’re trying to do. There's also the other side to consider – you need to be honest too, especially when it comes to telling them about your efforts! Are you genuinely trying your best? Are you making excuses? The right accountability partner will not only give you candid feedback, but also keep you honest while also pushing you.
You want your partner to challenge you to push yourself, but not turn everything into a competition, so much so that you both lose track of the main goal. Accountability partnerships work best with a little friendly competition -- so create challenges for each other, and have fun!
Objectivity and independence
If you find a partner who is working with you or is close to you, make sure they’re still not directly impacted by your goals and decisions or cause to influence your work towards them.
How to look for a financial accountability partner
Hire a CFO
For business folks, get a chief financial officer or consultant, or person that understands your growth vision and will work to improve the business financially with you. This is probably the best kind of accountability, but depending on your organization, this may or may not work for you.
Find people with similar goals
If you are in a field or have access to people who may be working on similar financial goals as you, team up to keep each other on track.
Accountability partner services
That's exactly what we (Boss as a Service) are. We match you with a personal Boss, who'll check in with you and make sure you're on track with your money management, planning and financial goals!
There are online advice, chat, and support groups for all kinds of goals, and you can join one to find the accountability you’re looking for. Look in places like /r/financialindependence, for example, to see if you can pair up with other users.
Family and friends
We keep this in the end because, as the cliche goes, it’s never a good idea to mix personal and other relationships. But if you feel like you can rely on a friend or loved one to keep you financially accountable, set up a system with them!
Agreements to make with your financial accountability partner
Agree on the commitments and commitment levels
Before starting to work with your partner, you need to decide the level of accountability buddy commitment you want from each other. This includes what you’ll be working on, how often you will communicate, and what kind of motivation you want.
Agree on your goals (And try to make them SMART!)
In an accountability partnership, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Bound) goals always work best. Think about what exactly your goals are.
"Achieving financial wellness"? But what does financial wellness mean to you? Try to get as specific as possible. Do you want to save money? If so, how much, how often? Why do you want to save? Towards a specific big purchase (say, a car) or just to build up your savings? How will the savings happen? What will you give up, in order to be able to save this amount each week? (Will you limit getting takeouts to once a week? Will you cut out a few subscriptions you're not using?)
Make sure you have deep clarity on exactly what you'll be doing – this way, your partner will find it easier to keep you accountable too!
Agree on Check ins
Set up regular times to check in with your partner. How often will you update each other, and how?
And even after you’ve set up a time or day to talk to your partner, ask them to check in on you a couple of times a week to just get a feel of how you’re progressing. Also let them know of any milestones achieved immediately, to celebrate your wins together.
Agree on Privacy
Your partner does not need to know every single thing about your present and future processes, just enough to be able to understand your goals. You don't need to give them access to your bank accounts! (No, please don't do that!) Decide how much you want to share with them, and make sure you're on the same page.
Now and again, iterate how the partnership is working, and what can be done to improve it. Or, if you’d like to part ways, be honest about it and don’t delay the break.
Goals you can work on with your financial accountability partner
Make a weekly budget goal
Whether it's for work or managing everyday spending at home, sticking to a budget keeps you grounded. So break down a weekly spending limit and ask your partner to monitor it for you.
Make a goal for saving and cutting expenses
If you have a problem keeping down your expenses, ask your partner to help you identify where you need to focus your money management and strategies you can use to save more. A fun twist is to do a saving challenge together -- both of you decide an amount to save, and a deadline, and go at it! Make sure to exchange tips, whether it's cutting down on unnecessary takeouts, or planning inexpensive outings.
Make a goal for learning and investing
Learning more about budgeting, personal finance, investments, and savings is a goal in itself! It may sound overwhelming to you if you're just getting started but it's a fascinating subject that pays off big dividends (pun intended). Some goals you can make to learn:
- Make a goal to understand one concept a week
- Make a goal to read one book about personal finance each month
- Make a goal to spend 10 mins browsing personal finance forums every day