How some folks are managing debt wisely.
I received the latest copy of my Kappa Alpha Theta alumni magazine in the mail recently, and the cover story caught my eye. It was about a group of five women from Canada who had started a (money-oriented support) group called the Smart Cookies. Their goal, the article stated, was to meet regularly, be open about their debt and other money issues, and to be supportive of each other in getting rid of debt, earning more money, and making better financial choices.
Debt Advice By Jean Chatzky: Create A Money Group!
The idea for the Smart Cookies money group arose after one of the members and fellow Theta alumnus, Robyn Gunn, learned about the Debt Diet from the Oprah Winfrey Show. Gunn was particularly inspired by one episode of the Oprah.com show, where Oprah had encouraged viewers to improve their financial situations by teaming up with others in similar situations. On Oprah.com, money coach Jean Chatzky had also outlined what a money group is, how to organize one, and what it can accomplish.
Chatzky suggested inviting people from different walks of life and experiences into the money group so that they can learn from each other. The group should pick topics to discuss in every meeting; it should track expenses and invite experts to talk. Chatzky also recommended that at every meeting, the coordinator (or organizer) should go around the circle and ask everyone how they are feeling about their finances that month, to discuss what have been their struggles and victories, and to review any good deals that they would like to share with others.
This idea resonated with Gunn, who said that at one point, she personally struggled with debt and overspending. But she wanted to face her financial responsibilities and took steps to improve her plight: so she decided to gather four other members to form a group. Their resolve was to dig themselves out of $40,000 of collective debt without ruining their lifestyles. At their six-month mark, they had made so much progress that Gunn submitted a progress report to the Oprah Winfrey Show, which was looking for follow-up success stories. They were invited to appear on the show, which then led to appearances on other TV shows, and interviews with major publications. The rest was history for Gunn’s money group, now called the Smart Cookies.
The Smart Cookies Money Group
The Smart Cookies, having put their money where their mouths are, now live debt free. They were able to quit their jobs to focus on their new mission of helping others improve their personal financial situations. They are now columnists for several newspapers, have their own television show in Canada, and have written a book entitled The Smart Cookies’ Guide To Making More Dough. They are now working on their second book and focusing on going international.
Visit SmartCookies.com to find out more about their recipe for success and to become a member of their site. Following are a few other morsels I gathered from the discussion on money groups:
- Invite those into your money group whom you trust and like.
- Share resources with other members (some groups even share household items and clothes!).
- Start a vision board to keep your goals alive in your head.
- Celebrate your successes whenever you meet your financial goals.
All in all, this is great advice for anyone who wants to get their finances in order. There’s strength in numbers, as they say! Or many heads can be better than one. 🙂
Contributing Writer: BEM