The Secret to Success: How to Find a Financial Accountability Partner

By Andy Hayes

One of the ways that financially successful people attained their financial success is through accountability partners.

What’s an accountability partner?  Simply put, it’s someone who agrees to help cheer you on and make sure that you’re keeping on track with your goals.  This could be someone to help check-in with you about weight loss, about keeping up with your task tracking, or in this case, staying on track with your financial goals.

Generally, an accountability partner is a two-way relationship – you’re both helping each other – but it doesn’t have to be that way.  When you’re both accountable to each other, though, it can help strengthen that relationship and allow each of you to be supportive, knowing that you’re expecting that in return.

What to Look for in an Accountability Partner

When it comes to finding an accountability partner, you’ll want to look for certain characteristics – even moreso when it comes to personal finance.

  • Trustworthy:  Because you’ll need to reveal some of your financial goals (which may indicate your salary and savings), you’ll need someone you can be open and trusting with.
  • Not Impacted by Your Decisions:  The best accountability partner is someone who is not financially tied up in your goals; they’ll be able to provide a fresh perspective and feedback.
  • Not Afraid to be Honest:  Your accountability partner needs to have the emotional wherewithal to call you out if you’re slacking on your goals, or tell you when you’re not being realistic.
  • Invested:  You need someone who has the time and energy to be invested in your success – not literally, just emotionally.  If your accountability partner is hard to get ahold of or doesn’t cheer you on, they’re not an accountability partner, they’re just busy.

Now that we have things like Facetime and Skype, there’s no need for your accountability partner to be local – you can do it online!  Be sure to spend some thoughtful time in choosing the right partner – and if you find your partner is hindering, not helping, give feedback and if things don’t improve, gently cut short the relationship.  You can have a small group for accountability – I would call that a mastermind, but if you have big big goals, you might find it helpful!

Now, Get Started

Once you’ve found the right accountability partner, put together an agreement – preferably in writing (via email is fine), so you can hold yourselves firm to your partnership.  Here’s what should be in your agreement:

  • Timing:  How often will you be?  Will you communicate primarily via email or a phone call or a coffee date?  If someone needs to “phone a friend,” is that allowed?  Depending on your goals, you’ll probably want to meet monthly or quarterly.  What happens if someone is absent or needs to reschedule?
  • Agenda:  Setup a simple format you’ll go through for each accountability check-in.  Keep it simple so you can spend most of your time on giving/getting feedback.
  • The Goals:  Make sure you document your goals so it is clear to your partner what you’re trying to achieve – sometimes you might need to do more work on articulating your goals so they are more SMART.

Your accountability partner isn’t a replacement for a “finance date,” which is more of an introspective process.  But give it a try, especially if you have something you’re trying to do — reduce consumer debt or save more each month, for example – because an accountability partner can help you achieve more consistent results.

How do you use accountability partners?

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