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Nudging Yourself Toward Your Goals

In this topic, we cover:

  • The definition of accountability systems.
  • Examples of accountability systems that can be helpful in reaching your financial goals.

Kid on a bike heading down a long road. Word START is next to boy.

When it comes to setting financial goals, it's important to have some kind of system set up to hold you accountable to your actions and your goals. Otherwise, old habits and procrastination can sabotage even the best plan. Further, financial situations can be incredibly personal and difficult to discuss with others, which is why picking the right type of accountability system is important.

Commitment Contracts

The Commitment Contract concept is based on two well-known principles of behavioral economics:

  • People don't always do what they claim they want to do
  • Incentives get people to do things

Entirely unique to each person, a Commitment Contract obliges you to achieve your goal within a particular time-frame.

It includes some form of reminders, a commitment journal to track your progress, and an entire support community. There's no requirement to wager money, but doing so provides extra motivation. For example, if you don't meet a goal of tracking spending for a month, you have to give $50 to a political or social cause that you absolutely disagree with.

Keep your Commitment Contract somewhere you can easily access it or find a website that allows you to create and post Commitment Contracts. Even better, share it with someone you trust, such as an Accountability Partner.

Accountability Partner

An Accountability Partner is a trusted and respected person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment.

Hold regular meetings with your Accountability Partner who will challenge, motivate, mentor, encourage, and inspire you to achieve maximum results. Regular meetings can be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, but consistency is the key. Knowing that you will have to report your successes or failures at a pre-determined date can get even the most guilty procrastinators the drive to achieve their prearranged goals.

He or she should be someone who will challenge, engage, and evoke a sense of accomplishment in you. Also consider choosing an Accountability Partner whom you trust to keep confidence as you may get into financial and personal discussions that are confidential in nature.

Some other benefits of utilizing an Accountability Partner include:

  • Assistance in organizing ideas, thoughts, and tasks into specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic goals.
  • Assistance in prioritizing an effective and consistent goal plan.
  • Ensuring accountability for task follow through.
  • Mentoring through difficulties and indecisiveness.
  • Sharing advice, personal knowledge and experience.
  • Follow up on your success.

Financial Counselors

Personal finance educators and counselors serve critical roles in helping individuals and families from all walks of life make effective financial decisions.

You can work with a financial counselor on a variety of issues including making a budget, setting financial goals, developing a plan to pay down debt, and more. They should provide accountability by checking in on your progress, setting regular meetings, and more.

Please visit the Library for more information on the types of counselors, how to choose the best one for your situation, and how to avoid unscrupulous credit counseling agencies.

No matter how you do it, if you're trying to change your financial behavior, maintaining accountability maximizes your chances for success.