A few years ago, I was working as a freelancer. While I loved the autonomy, fast pace, and project-oriented nature of running my own business, I was also lonely.
So I found a friend who was also freelancing and suggested we team up. Not necessarily in our work (though we ended up doing that too), but mostly to have someone else to share goals, ideas, and progress with.
It worked like a charm. I no longer felt lonely because I had a freelancer buddy at my side. What’s more, I realized that this same approach could work for financial goals, too, like debt payoff.
Want to learn how to pay off student loans faster yourself? Here’s why an accountability partner could be the key to your success.
Why an accountability partner can help you
Sometimes you forget that other people feel the same way about their loans as you do.
And when your friends are heading out to dinner for the third Saturday in a row while you stay home to save money, it feels like no one understands what you’re going through.
That’s one reason an accountability partner can be helpful. Instead of feeling like you’re the only one struggling through, you can lean on someone else who knows exactly how it feels.
But thanks to an accountability partner, there’s another surprising way you can work toward paying off student loans faster: peer pressure.
Peer pressure can be a good thing
Peer pressure has been studied by psychologists as a way to achieve goals. When our peers are trying to accomplish something, we can use our desire to be more like them to motivate us to accomplish the same thing.
Quiet Revolution shares a quote from a professor of preventative medicine, Tim Church, M.D., on the power of peer pressure and accountability:
“A significant predictor of whether people are going to stay on an exercise program is if they have a friend (either an individual or group) who works out with them. Getting people connected to each other is critical.”
This connection is so critical because, quite simply, it’s how we’re hardwired.
Psychology Today explains our ancestors relied on being a part of a group to survive. Traveling in groups, just like some animals travel in packs, meant more safety and access to food. “If we are left out or feel rejected by ‘the group,’ then we will not survive. No wonder we work so hard to stay ‘in’ at both the group and the individual level. ”
Therefore, if we tap into our instinctive need to fit into a group by using an accountability buddy to reach our financial goals, then we’ll have a lot more motivation to reach those goals.
How to pay off loans with an accountability partner
Ready to try this for yourself? Well, keep in mind that simply finding someone to share your goal of paying off student loans faster won’t guarantee success.
Here are a few things to consider as you look for an accountability partner.
1. Choose your partner carefully
First of all, you’re going to need to pick the right partner. The following tips won’t work unless you do.
They have to be someone whose opinion you care about. Someone you won’t want to let down and someone who won’t let you down.
Your accountability partner ultimately has to be someone who’ll keep your best interest at heart, and who can be firm with you when necessary.
Essentially, none of this is going to work if you don’t find someone who fits these criteria. You can find even more tips on finding the right accountability partner at Silver Linings Psychology.
2. Set some ground rules
Once you have the right accountability partner, you two will need to set some ground rules in relation to your student loans.
Let’s say you want to pay off student loans faster. How much faster? Do you have a particular date in mind?
Or, if you know how much extra you can pay each month, use our Student Loan Prepayment Calculator below to come up with a date based on how much extra you can pay.
Once you have a date in mind for each of you – or a target amount to pay or apply to your payments – then you’ll need to decide on the consequences you’ll enforce if you don’t meet that goal.
For example, you could say the one who doesn’t meet a particular goal has to contribute to the other’s student loans for the month.
Whatever consequence you decide on, make sure it’s one that you’ll be motivated to prevent. But also make sure that you can handle it if necessary.
3. Follow through with consequences
If you and your accountability partner don’t follow through with the consequences you’ve agreed upon ahead of time, then the partnership will fall flat. That’s why you need someone who can give you tough love when necessary.
In fact, according to Entrepreneur, you’re going to need someone who’s willing to be “brutally honest” with you.
This is where accountability can get really hard. You have to be able to enforce the consequences you and your accountability partner laid out. If not, it’s time to set-up some new consequences. Or, a new partnership.
4. Measure together
If you and your partner are both working towards paying off student loans faster, set up some milestone goals so you can stay motivated along the way. Don’t let the final payoff date be the only thing you’re working towards, or you might lose steam.
Then, make sure you measure your progress together rather than just reporting to one another. That will keep you both on top of things and more committed to the journey.
5. Celebrate your victories along the way
Yes, an accountability partnership needs to have its consequences, but it needs to have its celebrations too.
As you reach your milestones, find ways to celebrate with each other that won’t cost you a great deal of money. Revel in your wins and savor the fact that someone else cares about your goals as much as you do.
Ultimately, this can help create a strong bond between you and your accountability partner. And help both of you stay motivated for the road ahead.
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