I was on my way to Target with a short list of items to purchase. Before going in the store, I texted a friend, “I really hope I stay on-budget in here.” She texted back: “Send me a picture of your receipt.” On one hand, the request felt a little invasive. On the other hand, it sounded strategic—I had recently opened up to this friend about how I often overspent at Target. So I took her up on the offer.

At the time, my weak spots for spending included Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and of course, Target, where I would add an extra candle, seasonal dish towel, or other non-essential item to my cart, hoping I would put it back by the time I made my way to the checkout line. The Target dollar section always had the cutest functional items, like office supplies and mini planners.

But a couple bucks here and there made an impact on my budget, and I needed to rein in these small but wholly unnecessary purchases. Knowing my friend would see my receipt was a huge motivator, and I steered clear of the dollar section during that trip. Over the years, this friend has been a source of support as I’ve worked toward paying off credit card and student loan debt, and I’ve served a similar role for her.

A financial accountability partner is like a gym buddy—you keep each other focused on individual goals, rejoice together when you reach a milestone, and call each other out when you drop the ball (or are about to).

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