What is the importance of accountability with your money? Since money plays a vital role in every aspect of our lives, accountability is critical. We must hold ourselves, our loved ones, and our partners accountable.
Another important consideration is the time value of money. Meaning, the longer we wait to pursue a financial goal, the harder it becomes to reach. It’s a very human thing to put things off until “tomorrow.” Unfortunately for many of us, “tomorrow” becomes next year, or never. Procrastination keeps us from accomplishing (or starting) many financial goals.
To break free from procrastination, give yourself short deadlines and high expectations. Once you’ve done that, be accountable for making them happen. I’m going to give you the tools necessary for making that happen.
I’ve been helping people create financial accountability in their lives for 20+ years as a financial advisor. I’m honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The key areas of financial accountability
- Accountability partners
- The accountability process
Let’s get started.
The key areas of financial accountability
There are five key areas where financial accountability is required: earning, spending, saving, investing, and giving.
In order to do proper planning, you need to project how much money you’re going to earn each year. Along the way, you need to check your progress on a monthly basis. This may be easier if you have a salaried W2 career, and more difficult if you have variable income. Either way, set an earnings number which will allow you to plan and budget.
It’s essential to hold all parties accountable for their spending. To be financially successful, you must keep a budget and track your cash flow (income and expenses). Monitoring this on a monthly basis will allow you to make any necessary adjustments.
To meet your financial objectives, you need to have agreed upon savings goals. Monitoring your progress on a monthly basis will help you know if you’re on track.
To meet your mid and long-term financial goals, you’ll need to consistently invest your money. While we have little control over the stock market and our rate of return, we can be accountable for the amount we’re investing.
If giving money is a priority for you, make sure you have goals set for how much and where you’ll give.
Is it possible to hold yourself accountable? Yes, but it’s difficult. It will be difficult if you’re not currently in the habit of doing it. Accountability is a skill that can be learned and improved upon. It’s also like a muscle which will atrophy when it’s not used.
Taking personal responsibility for your financial life is a key to your success, and an integral part of personal responsibility is accountability. You need to know what you want and need to do, then do the things that are required.
As you’re building your accountability skill and muscle, be patient with yourself. You will not be great at it right away, but you’ll achieve mastery if you stick with it.
While I’m a massive fan of personal responsibility and self-accountability, there’s a lot of value to involving others. The research doesn’t lie.
You are 65% more likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. If you establish an ongoing partnership, your chances increase to 95%. Those numbers are too powerful to ignore. An accountability partner can help you track your goals and call you out when needed if you’re making excuses. They can be a sounding board should you run into a problem and can’t figure it out on your own.
Who should you partner with?
Anyone in your household who earns or spends money, and any professionals who help you with your finances.
Your significant other should be involved in your accountability process, and so should your children. This doesn’t mean your kids need to know everything about your household finances, but as they get older, there is a lot of value to involving them in your planning and review process.
If you work with a financial advisor, tax professional, estate planner, or any other financial professional, they need to be involved in your accountability process. It’s important to trust them, and to also verify that they’re doing great work on your behalf.
Let’s talk about how to do it.
The accountability process
Managing expectations is essential to happy and healthy relationships. This is true of your relationship with your romantic partner, family members, and business partners. Having a clear framework for managing expectations and holding one another accountable will help you be as successful as possible. There are five steps in this process:
- Be crystal clear in your expectations. Doing this will help everyone avoid mutual mystification. It will remove guessing from the equation. Be clear with your partners in what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.
- Make sure your partners are competent. Do they know how to do what you’re asking them to do? If not, you need to help them learn, or give the responsibility to someone else.
- Agree on how you’ll track progress. When and how will you check in and report on what they have completed and the next steps?
- Embrace and expect dialogue. Open, honest, and robust communication is essential. You should expect feedback from your partners, and they should expect it from you; good and bad.
- Be crystal clear on how results will be handled. What will happen when goals are met? What will happen when they are not?
Money plays a critical role in every aspect of our lives. The more upfront and honest we can be with the stakeholders in our life, the better off we’ll be. Following this five-step process will help improve your relationships and increase your likelihood of success.
We’re capable of a lot, so I think it’s important to ask a lot of ourselves; that’s why it’s important to set high expectations. Because of the human tendency to procrastinate, we need to give ourselves deadlines.
That being said, I also don’t want you to set such a high pace that you end up burning out. Start thinking about accountability as a muscle that you can train and strengthen. Then make a habit out of training that muscle every day.
Remember, this isn’t a New Year’s resolution that you give up on after one slip up. Rather, you’re committing to making accountability a permanent fixture in your life. You can do this. You can do hard things.
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