If you've ever been part of a book group, you know that many of the best book-group books come with study guides in the back. These usually consist of suggested questions to get people talking. (Sometimes they consist of answers from the author as well.) Well, Money Groups work the same way. Saving money doesn't have to be a hard thing to talk about. Here are some conversation starters to get you going! (I've thrown in a few of my own answers just for fun!)
- How do you feel about how you're managing your savings today?
- What are some strategies that have helped keep you on track financially? (Jean's take: Personally, I've been a receipt keeper for years. Anyone who's ever caught a glimpse of my wallet will attest to it. I shove every little slip of paper in my wallet until it's ready to explode, then I take a few minutes to type the information into the computer. I use a personal finance software program called Quicken that categorizes all my expenses, so it's easy to see when I'm busting the budget on birthday gifts, eating out or—I admit guiltily—shoes!)
- Do you feel secure in your current financial situation?
- Do you handle your own savings? If not, why?
- Do you want to be richer? (Jean's take: It's okay to admit that you want this. Really! I know that it may feel crass, overly commercial, even unfeminine to acknowledge that money ranks high on your list. But I believe Beyoncé has it right. Having financial security means being able to make the choices you want to make in your life, whether you're choosing schools for your kids, medical care for your parents or freedom from an uncomfortable situation for yourself.)
- What would you do with an extra $5,000 a year?
- What holds you back from saving?
- What about saving money intimidates you?
- What are your long-term money goals?
- When you envision your retirement, what do you dream of doing with your time?
- What are the things that you buy now that you feel are a waste of money?
- What do you pay for that you really don't need or can share the cost with others?
- What's one thing you'd love to save up to buy? (Jean's take: I advocate spending your money on experiences. One thing I've learned over the years is that things—most of them anyway—tend to tarnish over time. But experiences get better with age, especially if you're one of those people who tend to embellish every time you tell the story. As you're saving up for that experience, enjoy the planning, savor the anticipation. Remember, the only thing better than a first kiss are the butterflies in your stomach when you know that first kiss is coming!)
- How much of your money do you find yourself spending on others?
- Were you raised with a spending mentality or a saving mentality? Has that changed as an adult?
- When you spend a large amount of money, how do you feel afterwards?
- What's the most challenging thing about living on a budget?
- If you've failed on a budget, why do you think you weren't successful?
- Where do you think you'll have trouble sticking to a savings plan?
- Who do you think might be able to help you rally through the rough spots?
Sometimes in your financial life you can (and should) take advantage of financial systems, products and technologies that allow you (in the immortal words of infomercial king Ron Popeil) to "Set it and forget it." Find out how to bank those bucks without even thinking about it!
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.