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Tip #4: Involve your friends in your savings challenge

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This is tip #4 of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge.

Today’s tip is to involve your friends and family in your money saving. Without this, you’ll have a tough time achieving your goals. For more people, the reason they fail to save money is not a lack of money-saving ideas — it’s themselves and their lack of discipline. By involving your friends, you eliminate that lack of discipline and give yourself automatic accountability and a built-in reason to win.

peer-influence.jpg

Let’s take a look at this question, which came in from my post about turning the thermostat down:

Anybody have any tips on how to do this with room mates if you and your room mates do not have the same goals? How do you talk them into wanting to put the thermostat down 3 degrees if it is going to possibly make them uncomfortable, or maybe they just do not want to substitute comfort for any dollar amount?

Great question — and it doesn’t just apply to saving money by turning your thermostat down. What about if you want to eat out less this month? Or go out less? How do you enlist the help of your friends?

Why your friends matter
Getting your friends involved is important because your spending is based on your context. A lot of us like to think that we make our financial decisions individually. What an American, determinist perspective! But it’s not true. Our spending depends on those around us. For example, if you make $50,000/year, you probably hang out with others who make similar amounts and have similar spending patterns. If your friends shop a lot, and you’ve been accepted into that group of friends, chances are you shop too. Social influence is extremely powerful

Think about it: When was the last time you spent money because of friends? For me, it was this weekend, when I ate out. It was fun, it was social — but it was also financial.

As you’ve been seeing from my tips over the last few days, the actual financial decisions are only a small part of your spending. A lot of it has to do with the psychology of spending. That’s why enlisting the help of your friends to achieve your goals this month is so important.

I want to point you to an astonishing study that highlights the importance of your social network. In this case, it was for obesity:

Obesity can spread from person to person, much like a virus, researchers are reporting today. When a person gains weight, close friends tend to gain weight, too.

The answer, the researchers report, was that people were most likely to become obese when a friend became obese. That increased a person’s chances of becoming obese by 57 percent.

[…]

“You change your idea of what is an acceptable body type by looking at the people around you,” Dr. Christakis said.

Fascinating. I can’t speak authoritatively to the correlation between obesity and finance, but I’ve seen lots and lots of patterns between the two (e.g., here and here). I think that intuitively, we all recognize that a lot of our spending is a result of our friends and the people in our social network. You think your spending would stay the same if you hung around a bunch of immigrants, or people who make $400,000/year? Not a chance.

How to enlist your friends’ help to save money
We’ve already talked about why it’s important to enlist your friends’ help to save money. Without their help, you’ll still have the constant pressure to go out, buy new stuff, spend, or whatever your current spending patterns are. In other words, it will be you against the world. To help change that, there are two approaches you can take:

1. Enlist your friends to join the Challenge (cooperative approach)
2. Bet your friends you can hit your goals (adversarial approach)

Enlist your friends to join the Challenge.
For the person above who wanted to know how to get his roommates to be cool with turning the thermostat down, this is the approach I would take.

Hey guys,

I read this personal-finance blog iwillteachyoutoberich.com and he just announced a Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m down to save $1,000. (Realistically, I think I can save $700 this month.)

Would you guys be interested in joining in?

If we can each participate, it would be a lot easier (e.g., we save on heat a little, clean the house ourselves, cook a little, and that saves hundreds right there). I took his first 3 days of tips and I’m already saving [$XXX].

What do you think?

Check out the 30 day challenge here:
http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/announcing-the-save-1000-in-30-days-challenge

-[NAME]

The chief benefits of this is that you get (1) social support and (2) economies of scale. If you’re all saving towards a common goal, you can eat rice and beans, and you’ll also be more likely to turn down the heat, not go out as much, etc. Personally, I’m doing this approach.

Bet your friends you can hit your goals
You guys know I love bets. Sites like Stickk.com are great because they give you an easy way to motivate yourself by publicly committing to a goal. There are thousands of psychology studies about commitment — specifically, public commitment — which is highly persuasive. If you tell a group of people that you’re going to stop smoking, or lose weight, or save money, you’re highly motivated to save face and hit that goal.

I used this strategy successfully last year when I ran a weight challenge to gain weight. I’ve always been a slim guy so I decided to bulk up a little. I emailed my friends and got them involved: I bet that I would GAIN the weight, while I encouraged them to bet against me. I describe all the details in How I Gained 5 Pounds in One Week (check it out), but here’s the initial email I used to get my friends involved:

Email I used to bet friends for weight gain challenge

The text I’d use for the Challenge is something like:

Hey guys,

I read this personal-finance blog iwillteachyoutoberich.com and he just announced a Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. I’m taking the Challenge and trying to save $700 this month.

Now, who wants to bet me I can’t do it?

You can try anything you want — inviting me out to free meals, sending me sales, asking if I want to grab a drink. Whatever it is — do it. But you have to bet me $25, $50, or $75 that I won’t be able to hit my goal of saving $700 this month.

In other words: I bet you that I can save $700. You bet $25, $50, or $75 that I CANNOT save that much money. I’ll provide weekly updates so you can track my spending.

Let me know if you’re in by this Friday, November 7th.

-[NAME]

The key is to get your friends involved, whether they join the Challenge or bet against you. Get your co-workers involved, too: At PBwiki, we’ve done a hot-sauce-eating contest and a Biggest Weight Loser challenge.

The result of getting your friends involved
For my weight-gain challenge, once I bet my friends, I actually started caring less about my weight-gain bet itself, and more about showing my friends that I could do it. Whenever I felt like I couldn’t do it (not ANOTHER glass of milk), I knew I had to or I would lose to my friends — and that wasn’t gonna happen. Finally, by having weekly check-ins, I knew I had to hold myself accountable each Sunday.

The same is true of saving money. For the challenge, my friends know I’m running this challenge, which means they’re open to hanging out at free places instead of expensive bars/restaurants this month. Plus, there’s the motivation aspect: If you set a goal of saving $300, or $500, or $1,000 this month, and you bet your friends publicly, you are GOING to find a way to make it happen. Don’t do this alone. Get others to help you and you’ll be even more successful. Start by leaving a public comment with your goal and name today.

Total savings: $100-$500

* * *

Last thing to do
1. Leave a comment on this post describing your name and what your goal is this month. Use this to hold yourself accountable. Each day, I’ll ask you to post how much you’ve saved cumulatively. Use this as a way to track your own progress (it will also encourage others to join)
2. Want to submit your own savings tip? Submit a money tip here.

If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.

scrooge

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49 Comments on "Tip #4: Involve your friends in your savings challenge"

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kevin_d
kevin_d
7 years 8 months ago
So far I’m having a bit of trouble with this challenge here. Besides the sell something on ebay (I sold a mini fridge I got as a gift 5 yrs ago for $50 on craigslist right after I posted the ad) I’ve already been doing this stuff. 1. I make my own lunch everyday and have been for 2 years (I spend less than $10 a week on food for lunches) 2. The temp at my house it set to 62 degrees during the day and 56 at night. Any lower than that I think is a bit ridiculous. 3.… Read more »
Heather
7 years 8 months ago

It would be nice to have accountability from friends during the challenge!

coyote
coyote
7 years 8 months ago

Your credibility here went down with that obesity claim. OMG THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA. You’re smarter than that, Ramit. Go talk to Kate Harding about the realities of that study before using it to compel people to save money.

Carla
7 years 8 months ago

@ Kevin – I agree with Ramit, there has to be some else you can do to save money. The first four tips doesn’t apply to me either, but I’m sure I can think of other ways.

Carolynn
7 years 8 months ago
Wow, tough crowd. Personally, I figure any suggestions I get that will help to motivate or remind me to save a few dollars is a positive. If I’m already doing these things (which I am) then it confirms that I’m on the right track and reaffirms my commitment to them. Nothing wrong with that. I’m also willing to give Ramit the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s starting slow and will ramp things up as the days progress. We’re not all starting at the same place and it would be a tad arrogant of me to judge everyone… Read more »
Charles
Charles
7 years 8 months ago
Ramit good response to Kevin is certainly one that has been repeated and will need repeating through each day I’m sure. I’m really glad to see the tip of the iceberg of people like Kevin who showed up in mass on Tip 1. That actually encourages me that America still has real people out there and we do have what it takes to face no only a challenge like this but, also the challenges ahead in the coming years. I am certainly open to alternative suggestions from folks who find they are already into each tip. Maybe we will see… Read more »
stefanie
stefanie
7 years 8 months ago

Thanks Coyote! you said it!

j_lloyd
j_lloyd
7 years 8 months ago
I like these challenges. You don’t need to earn a whole lot of money to save $1000. I was able to save over $1000 in September, although I was only able to save about $400 in October. I net $2700 a month (plus health benefits) with my wife, so it’s not a terrible amount of money. Here’s some of the biggest reasons why I think we’re able to save: * Rent – We don’t have a house payment. We rent an apartment that pays for heat and water. Rent is $680. * Limit groceries to once a month – We’re… Read more »
Ethel
Ethel
7 years 8 months ago
I just can’t bring myself to do this one as written, ever. I don’t like competing with friends and accountability to others can backfire for me; the social pressure can make an effort so distasteful that I can no longer comfortably work towards that goal. However, most of my friends are savers or try to be, and we often spend time swapping frugal tips when we get together, so I think I already have the spirit of this one. I wanted to give an alternative to j_lloyd’s “only buy groceries once a month”. This doesn’t work for our family for… Read more »
sarah d
sarah d
7 years 8 months ago

Hi Ramit,

I happened to share your challenge yesterday with a work friend who’s worried about stretching her dollars this month, so I hope she’ll also join the challenge. I’m hoping I can save $500 this month, and spent the (hopefully) leftover saved on graduate school applications. Tip #2 doesn’t really apply to me here in Southern California, and I usually pack my own lunch anyway, but I’m inspired to really stick to that habit for the month.

Thanks, and I’ll keep plugging away.

Peggy
Peggy
7 years 8 months ago
I have been an absolute hermit since moving three years ago. I haven’t developed any friendships other than the parents of my kids’ friends and we don’t get together to do things anyway. I am using the cooperation model with my kids, though. I did a quick calculation, “Mom, can I have…” purchases cost me $50 last month. I know it’s a lot, but I have a lot of kids. I’ve enlisted their help in not spending this money in exchange for a video game they all want pretty badly. Net sum gain is still $0, but if we break… Read more »
Ian
Ian
7 years 8 months ago

This tip is really hard for me, I sadly don’t have a ton of close friends, and none of which are willing to “donate” money to me if i prove them wrong. I feel this is tip is too variable to assume that people will be able to save very much money from it.

Beth
Beth
7 years 8 months ago
Okay, I have to admit at first I laughed at this tip because I thought it was just a shameless plug for the website (email your friends the challenge, come on!) But I do agree with the point that sometimes you have to discuss financial goals with your friends and family. It’s not just the economy either — buying a house, planning a wedding, having a baby or even planning a big trip changes your financial outlook and people for the most part understand that dinners out, concerts and other trips aren’t feasible. You just find other things to do.… Read more »
Joe Lewis
Joe Lewis
7 years 8 months ago
I think for a lot of us, especially with the current economy, saving money is a big issue… and it probably is with your friends too. (I know it is with mine!) I just found this blog today, but I’m already feeling more hopeful about our money situation than I was before. My friends and I used to go out to dinner a lot on the weekend, which got VERY expensive! After talking with them about our money situation, and trying to save more, we’ve moved to cooking meals as a group at home on the weekend. It’s a lot… Read more »
Maira
Maira
7 years 8 months ago
This tip is hard for me… most of my friends are fresh out of college, not making a lot of money, and trying to pay down whatever debt they’ve accumulated in the past 4 or so years. What I’ve noticed helps me save is cutting down on the eating out. My husband and I used to go out to eat 4-5 times per week… and that was a slow week for us. There were times when we’d go out every night. Each time we’d spend an average of $40 for the two of us. I’ve now limited that to 2… Read more »
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[…] find it ironic that I got the tip to involve others in saving as I’m visiting my younger brother today. One of my goals, besides just hanging out, is to […]

Chris
Chris
7 years 8 months ago

This challenge is getting…eh, “challenging.” I had high hopes for this, but this “tip” is truly disappointing.

Holly
Holly
7 years 8 months ago
Coyote, what? I didn’t see Ramit making any claims other than there was a study that found something relevant to this tip. But whatever. Anyway. I already said it on the last post, but I told my boyfriend about this challenge. He is the #1 person I spend money with, so that should actually help a lot. I did spend a decent amount going out with him on Nov. 1st, but it was his birthday, so I think that was justified. He could do with saving some money too, so I think this could save me at least $70 this… Read more »
Ryan
Ryan
7 years 8 months ago
Good grief some of you people are total downers. Every idea is not going to work for every person. Some ideas will work great, some will not work at all. If you go this full month and only one out of the 30 tips works for you, that is one tip you gained that you did not have last month. If you leave November with $100 more in your bank account then you would typically have… the challenge was a success. If you find a way to milk it into $1000… pat yourself on the back and do it again.
Jamie
Jamie
7 years 8 months ago
The challenge is inspiring us to look for opportunities and then to take action! I called my insurance company today and asked them how much they were insuring our house for. It turns out that they had used some index to ramp up our home’s replacement value each year since we bought it. I found out we were paying for an extra $100,000 of coverage that we didn’t need. One phone call and ten minutes of my time and I was able to knock over $100 off of our homeowner’s insurance premium. I realize this doesn’t relate to today’s tip,… Read more »
Green Panda
7 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the mention Sethi. I’m going to have to make my goal, even if I have to sell our Wii to make the goal. (My husband might have an issue for that.) 😛

Jillian Carlson
7 years 8 months ago

I agree that so far I have already being doing some of the tips, but I am still considering the savings in my totals. Also, this is finally getting my husband on board! Yipee!

Day One I posted the challenge on my blog. Not that I get any hits besides my small family… Still I want them to join in quite badly!

So far, my tally is at $504.80 – if you want to see how, check it out on my blog carlsonclones(dot)blogspot(dot)com.

Amanda
7 years 8 months ago

I’m posting on my blog right now

(www.engineerwoman.blogspot.com)

not that anyone reads it, but whatever. I hope that will change. 🙂

Keeley
7 years 8 months ago

Day 1 savings: $0
Day 2 savings: $18
Day 3 savings: $25
Day 4 savings: Well, it’s posted on my blog – that will keep me accountable. Involving my family in all this? Huh. That’ll be the day. I bet there will be something about getting rid of cable at some point. Oh I wish I wish I wish I wish. Not going to happen.

*sigh* =(

Still…hope springs eternal! I’m going to keep going. =D

Meme
Meme
7 years 8 months ago
I see the suggestions as a great starting place and motivator. While some may disagree, I think it’s high time we stop expecting people to spoon feed us the answers but find motivation to find our OWN personal answers. Raising $1000 is out of the question for me, BUT raising $500 is doable. I take ideas and those that do not relate to me I disregard. Ideas that relate to me I take and make my own rules and think outside the box. Not everything must be taken literally. Take one or two good ideas and adapt them to YOUR… Read more »
Rhonda
Rhonda
7 years 8 months ago

Emailed a couple friends, Number 4 – check. I do think telling someone else helps you be accountable. If I think someone else is going to be asking how it’s going, it is a little added stimulus to actually make it happen. And they may have other tips and hints for me along the way. I’m going to stick with the $1000 goal, even though it may be a bit high for me. Any bit that I save will be appreciated and I don’t mind aiming high.

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[…] Tip #4: Involve your friends in your savings challenge I talked to hubby, he is cheap, so he doesn’t have a problem with that. […]

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[…] up to $1,000 in savings a month for people who really strive for it. I particularly like tip #4, involve your friends. (@ i will teach you to be […]

Catherine
Catherine
7 years 8 months ago

Hmmm i want you to rethink this…. You are encouraging people to save money by inviting their friends to save money with them. However, your suggestion entails betting more money than a dinner out on how much you can save. This is twisted and poor advice.

Additionally, if your friends are betting against you saving money then they are not on your team to help you save.

G.L.
G.L.
7 years 8 months ago
My situation is like that of Maira and kevin_d: I rarely if ever go out, and most of my friends are fresh out or still in college, so expensive spending is out by default – as is, well, trying to cut costs because each of us is a pro in his/her own type of frugality. 🙂 Thus, I can’t really challenge my friends and will have to put $0 saved for this day too… Just so I don’t seem like a buzz kill, here’s my advice: spend money on video games to avoid going out. A (relatively) small initial investment… Read more »
Kunal
7 years 8 months ago
Hey Ramit, Most of it does not apply to me either, saving $1000 is out of question to me.. But there is scope to save more money, if u look into ur expenses.. The problem with most people is buying things that are not required.. If i had change i would be tempted to get myself a chocolate.. which may not be required.. I’m also tempted to buy things that i may not have bought unless for the heavy discounts on the product.. I have figured out a solution to this problem which i think can be applicable to all..… Read more »
margaret
margaret
7 years 8 months ago
Well, I’m aiming for a two month (or more) challenge as I’m a slow starter, but so far… Day One and two I forgot my lunch, had to drive home (gas!) but since I did discover the ingredient search at Allrecipes.com that pulls up recipes based on what’s in my cupboard… I was able to use some neglected quinoa and cheese… so I saved $6 for recycling food items that would have been wasted and $8 for a possible restaurant tab…. $28-$4(wasted gas) equals $24 in savings (plus I have new recipes and am happier.) Day 3 I’m not into… Read more »
Funny about Money
7 years 8 months ago
LOL! There’s a reason my friends call me “funny about money”…. other comments include “You need to get a life,” “Don’t you think you should carry some cash around,” and “Of course you can afford [fill in the blank: dinner out, expensive clothes, a nice purse, et cetera].” Somehow I doubt they’d be willing to participate in my lunacy. 😀 Seriously: Everyone’s pinching pennies. But I expect you have to have some real elan to challenge your friends to a saving contest — alas, I just don’t have that much polish and personality. For sure, if I did, I’d try… Read more »
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[…] Involve your friends in your savings challenge […]

Vanessa
Vanessa
7 years 8 months ago
I think the idea was to either invite your friends to join or to bet against you, not both. Which would work better depends on you and your friends. Personally, I haven’t really saved much yet. I already pack my lunch 99% of the time, and if I don’t I run to the grocery store and pick up a frozen dinner instead of eating out. I combine that with other frequent grocery buys like milk and fruit so I can cut out a future grocery trip, and since my work is closer to the store than my home, I consider… Read more »
alexinmadison
alexinmadison
7 years 8 months ago

This is a funny one for me because, as soon as I started reading about the challenge, I e-mailed the link to, like, 5 people. My intention wasn’t to “bet” them or to make me accountable to them but to have someone to share the challenge with. I can talk to these folks about my successes and failures and we can trade tips and ideas.

Amy
7 years 8 months ago

I’m a little late responding here, but I’m doing this one on my blog by trying to save $350-400 this month off my regular (really high) grocery bill. I’ve also been posting some thrifty recipes to share with others.

So far I’ve spent $100 on groceries this month ( almost always eat in since cooking is my hobby) – usually I spend more than that in one week!

TC
TC
7 years 7 months ago

I’m late adding my comment here too, but I’ve been participating and still wanted to report back. I’ve enlisted 2 friends and my significant other. With our friends, we’re skipping the theaters and watching movies at each others’ houses instead ($40 movie outing, 2 times a month). With my SO, we’re being careful about spending all of our grocery budget just because it’s there. ($20/week easily)

This tip: $160
Current total: $170

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[…] nvolve your friends. — from I Will Teach You to Be Rich — “Without this, you’ll have a tough time achieving your goals. For more people, the […]

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[…] Involve your friends in your savings challenge […]

หาเพื่อน
7 years 6 months ago

Thanks for good infomation .

CW
CW
7 years 5 months ago
Setting up a competition or trying to convince someone else to join in on the program are ideas that don’t fit my lifestyle, in middle age, though that kind of peer support might have been useful back in college and grad school days. But I can think of a couple of ways to reinterpret this tip for my situation. First, I can be proactive in suggesting activities with friends that don’t involve a big expenditure, like going to an art gallery or other free public attraction together, taking a simple, low-cost picnic to the park, having a movie night, a… Read more »
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[…] when someone asked you to do something that involved spending money? 18. How do your friends handle their money, and how do you think it affects you? 19. What’s the one thing you could do today to start […]

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[…] I nvolve your friends. — from I Will Teach You to Be Rich […]

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[…] Develop a support system that can help you reach your financial goals. To tackle my student loans, I have my husband in my corner. I also have some wonderful resources on the web with other personal finance bloggers. I also recommend being support for a friend as well. It can be helpful for yourself as well as for your friend. […]

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