Enlist Your Gal Pals to Get Stuff Done

Some money worries are like low-grade fevers -- easy to ignore because you can have them and still do the laundry, build that PowerPoint presentation, be on call for homework assistance and stuff envelopes for your best friend's fundraiser.

Who has time to put your needs first when the minor discomfort (that pile of papers to file, that nagging feeling you're paying too much for car insurance or getting too little interest on your savings) isn't that urgent?

We tell ourselves that if those smoldering personal items we put on the back burner don't fizzle away on their own we'll deal with the fallout if (or, more likely, when) they turn into four-alarm fires. For the time being, however, it's OK to blow them off because there are a few dozen other demands for our attention.

Friends don't let friends blow off their finances
When a friend or loved one tells us they feel under the weather (health- or wealth-wise), we have no problem urging them to take "me" time to take care of personal business.

Well, ladies, it's time to take your own advice.

It's time to put your personal well-being and peace-of-mind on top of your "to do" list -- to take care of those bills, budgets, and other "minor" details of sprucing up your finances that you've put off for so long.

And if you can't give yourself permission to take time out for financial self-care, then there's only one solution: Girl's night in!

Use Girl Power to get stuff done
Our closest girlfriends listen with empathy. We nod and ply one another with tissues over tea. We admit to each other what we really spend on hair products and how our honey's spending is stressing our relationship. We talk back and forth and come to a consensus. We keep each other from buying unflattering jeans.

In short, we relate -- through bonds of friendship, common experience, and selfless acts of sisterhood (like letting your pal have the last pair of size-8 red-orange wedge sandals on the sales rack because you know how pretty they make her feel).

The gal get-together I propose is not just about catching up on office gossip and swapping magazines (though, by all means, put that on your agenda, but not as the sole focus). To really harness Girl Power for the greater good, the topic is, "Financial questions/worries I want to talk through."

Got money questions? Concerns? Advice? Warnings? Triumphs? It's all fodder for a money mixer. The point of getting together with this close-knit group is to:

  • Share information -- swap stories, advice, coupons, phone numbers of trusted professionals, even personal skills -- and learn from each other's experiences. (e.g. Is it worth it to renovate the bathroom? When's the right time to start giving the kids an allowance? How do you talk to your spouse about their spending?)
  • Motivate each other to get stuff done -- make a list of priorities, put them in order, and come up with a plan to overcome inertia. (e.g. Psyche up your shy friend to ask for a raise. Compare Rolodexes and see how who you know can help your pal.)
  • Show-and-tell your progress since the last time you met (accountability is a powerful motivational tool!), and know that no one's going to tsk-tsk you if you were just too busy to tackle any money tasks the previous month.

You can decide to tackle a particular topic for each get-together (Hey everyone, let's have a shredding party and organize the documents in our file cabinets! Here's what to keep and what you can toss, in case this idea excites you.), or just take turns taking everyone's financial temperature.

Schedule your next money mixer
Seriously, set a time and date, put snacks and spirits on your shopping list and send word to your gal pals that one night a month the priorities are friends, fun, a financial heart-to-heart.

More fodder for your money chat:

Dayana Yochim is the author of Couples & Cash: How to Handle Money with Your Honey and an open book about her own financial foibles among friends. The Fool's disclosure policy lets it all hang out 24/7.

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  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2010, at 3:31 PM, emcadorette wrote:

    Wow. "Gal Pals"? Really?

    It isn't only the headline, though. There are all sorts of things in this article that rub me the wrong way.

    The overall message I come away with is that women are flibertigibbets about money because we're so busy, and the writer even helpfully mentions laundry as a more important to-do list item in a woman's head than her finances. (Oh, and we women aren't taking care of *ourselves*, either, if the asides are to be taken as written.) And then if we DO get it into our heads to improve our finances, in order to succeed at it, we need to pool our (evidently limited) female brains into a GroupThink slumber party? Oh, and a token nod to gossip and magazines, too, in case any stereotypes were missed.

    While I think I understand what the intended message was to have been, I think the mark was missed by a mile in the tone.

    How about an article about ways that groups of friends can pool their knowledge and resources to form effective investment groups, instead? I know the Fool strives for a conversational tone, but in this case I didn't feel chummy; I felt insulted.

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