A while back my friends and I were talking about our debt problems. In today’s world, it seems like everybody has them. But each of us had different kinds of debt problems. One friend had credit card debt, another had an expensive mortgage, another had a car loan, and I had student loans. It is an exciting time in our lives, but these money surprises add up quick.
Buying your first home, moving to a new city, getting an education or buying a car are all GOOD things (in theory) for your financial future, but only if you can manage to stay financially floating. Whether we like it or not, these exciting events require establishing and maintaining good credit.
None of us had a clue how to get on track, so we decided to buddy up to help each other save. After all, its no fun when you feel everyone is out having fun and you’re stuck at home because you can’t afford to enjoy an evening out with friends.
Turns out, research by the National Endowment for Financial Education finds [i] that having a financial buddy is a great tool to help you stay on track.
“A financial buddy can be anyone: a spouse, a trusted friend, a family member or a co-worker, and it doesn’t have to be someone with whom you share all of your financial information,” says Paul Golden, spokesperson for NEFE. “It is similar to having a workout buddy. You want someone to help you stay the course, reach short- and long-term goals and remember that you are not alone. And if you both have similar goals, you can share your respective struggles and triumphs along the way.”[ii]
It makes sense. If you have a few friends that all decide to pay off their debt and hold each other accountable together, suddenly, it becomes a lot easier to find new ways of having fun that are affordable. Free entertainment is typically the best way to get over your debt-paying blues.
Here are a few fun, money saving ideas to do with friends:
- Hang out at the park. Throwing around a frisbee or a football is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends.
- Go on a hike. Lucky for my friends and I, we have an unlimited number of nearby trails to explore. Check out Trail Finder to find an good place to hike near you.
- Game night. We started this a few years ago and take turns hosting it at each other’s house.
- Free tours. Breweries, the Candy Factory, Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory and more. Colorado has many fun free tours to take.
- Attend Free Venue Days. These events require more planning, but give you a chance to score free entry to some of the best local museums, zoos and botanic gardens around.
- Catch a flick at a dollar theatre. If your town doesn’t have a dollar theatre, you can also rent movies from RedBox.
- Get Crafty. There are thousands of cool d0-it-yourself ideas online that are really fun to do with friends such as pumpkin carving, quilting, origami, woodworking and more.
It is also nice to have the emotional support for when things get tough. A financial buddy can be an important asset when you face life’s inevitable misfortunes. During these hard times, a financial buddy can act as both your cheerleader and coach, offering support and encouragement.
When faced with difficult choices, people tend to act- well human. That means we often don’t make the best decisions, which usually leads to further troubles down the road. A good financial buddy can help you remind you of your financial goals, and help you make smart choices.
For example, a good financial buddy could go with you to credit counseling. Credit counseling is a great place to start, and is often free. Using experts will help you get qualified, and personalized financial advice. A credit counselor can help you make a budget, develop a savings strategy, and even compare home or auto loans.
The point is, there is no easy route to financial freedom, and no road-trip is ever fun if you’re doing it alone.