A Money Group is like a book club, but with no books. It's a bunch of friends who get together on a regular basis to talk about financial matters. At one meeting, you might talk about getting the right life insurance; at another, paying for your children's college education or figuring out how to quit quibbling with your partner over his spending habits (or yours). The point of a Money Group is to learn about—and discuss—your financial life.
Here's how to start a Money Group:
- Pick your members. Try to include people who do different things and have different life experiences. Mix working women with stay-at-home moms, singles with marrieds, moms with grandmoms, women who don't have kids with those who do, entrepreneurs with corporate types, younger with older. Why? They'll bring different life—and money—experiences from which everyone else will be able to learn. You're best aiming for 10 to 12 members. You want to have about eight at each meeting, so you need some leeway for people's schedules.
- Gather everyone together for your first meeting. Serve some food and drinks, and then get to the fun part—choosing a name for your group!
- Decide if you want a leader. If one person is clearly an expert, then it makes sense for that person to lead. If everyone is on a level playing field, it works well to rotate leadership duties.
- Pick some topics. Start brainstorming about what everyone wants to get out of this experience. You'll find some people are most concerned about retirement, others college, others real estate, and still others the more emotional sides of money. Come up with a list of the subjects the group wants to focus on and in which order.
- Appoint one member to be in charge of each of the upcoming topics. Jean will be posting Money Group Guides for you to follow on Oprah.com, but feel free to come up with your own. If you do, remember: You want this to be easy, not cumbersome; so the member in charge should circulate articles (not books) on the topic and come prepared with a book-club-like list of questions to get the conversation started.
- Invite experts. There are probably plenty of brokerage firms and financial planners in town that would love, love, love your business. If you're about to discuss something that none of you feels qualified to talk about, invite in someone who knows her stuff so she can lead the discussion. Tell her you're looking for someone to educate the group on a particular issue and to answer members' questions. Who knows? You may end up finding a financial pro you'd like to work with in the future.
- Start tracking your finances. If you're planning on following Jean's Money Group topics, you'll need to know the truth about your finances. If you haven't already, print Oprah's Debt Diet chart and track your debt. You can also track and save a record of your spending habits in a money journal.
- Check Oprah.com for more resources. Come back at the beginning of every month to find your new curriculum.