When we’re working toward important financial goals on our own, it’s easy to feel defeated if they don’t materialize the way we intend. But none of us have to go it alone. Research shows, in fact, that we’re often more successful in reaching goals if we share them with a friend rather than keeping them to ourselves. That’s why having an accountability partner can be a great strategy when it comes to making money goals — and feeling good about meeting them.

Think of a financial accountability partner like a fitness workout buddy. They both do the same things: help you stick to your plans, cheer you on and positively influence the success you achieve. Could adding an accountability partner be just the momentum you need to overcome obstacles and reach your money goals? Read on as we explore the benefits, attributes and ways to work together as a dynamic duo.

What is an accountability partner?

Just as the name suggests, an accountability partner is someone you know and trust — be it a significant other, family member, friend or mentor — who can commit to helping you take your financial goals from intentions to accomplishment. Through encouragement and motivation, they can help hold you responsible for progress — and even make the path to achieving your quest more enjoyable by joining in themselves.

Above all, accountability partners lend support to overcome obstacles, share the challenge and keep moving forward.

How can an accountability partner help transform my finances?

Working on personal finance goals, whether it’s reducing debt or saving money for a down payment on a home, takes commitment, planning and — let’s face it — sacrifice. At times, it can feel isolating, especially if you aren’t making progress as quickly as you hoped or when unexpected challenges slow your success. Here’s where an accountability partner can step in.

Support and responsibility. Say you’re tempted to make an impulse purchase, apply for another credit card or need some better ideas about how to save money. Lean on your accountability partner to help you stop and think about spending habits, or brainstorm reasonable ways to find savings in your budget.

Positive reinforcement and progress. When things go wrong, it’s easy to play the blame game. But that’s often unproductive. An accountability partner can help you stay on track, even when the going gets tough. By acknowledging a setback and thinking it through together, you’ll get help identifying solutions — and refocusing your efforts on the goals ahead.

Mutual motivation and willpower. Sharing your money goals with others makes them more real and harder to ignore. And having a cheerleader who’s behind you all the way could be the morale booster you need to resolve to tackle that financial challenge.

What to look for in a financial accountability partner

Your accountability partner needs to understand what your financial goals are, what you are trying to accomplish and how you think you can achieve them. In short, they need to be clearly aligned with your plans and their execution. One way to make sure that happens is to consider sharing the results of your Money Mindfulness quiz, which provides a great picture of personal goal setting and money values. Then, look for these attributes; a strong accountability partner will:

Share similar goals and financial aspirations. Being on the same wavelength can be helpful in many situations, but especially so with an accountability partner. That said, while you may think of your best friend as a first choice, you might also consider someone else you admire who could bring a fresh perspective or has different strengths. A good accountability partner will either be striving for similar money goals or has had experience and success reaching the types of goals on your list.

Be honest, trusted, dependable and respected. Want to be dedicated and unwilling to give up on your goal? According to a set of studies, it’s more likely to happen when you share that goal with someone you look up to. In other words, if you don’t respect the person nor care about their opinions, you won’t be motivated to stay accountable.

Be unbiased and unaffected by your financial decisions. Objective advice is a hallmark of a financial accountability partnership. So, it makes sense to choose an accountability partner who’s not going to be directly impacted by any financial moves you make.

How to work with your accountability partner

There are informal and formal ways to work with your accountability partner. What’s more, nothing says you must limit yourself to one person. Maybe you enlist a coworker to keep you from overspending on lunches. And maybe you ask your significant other to help you stay positive where much bigger goals are concerned. But to get the most out of the relationship, realize it’s a two-way street and incorporate these general parameters.

Get started. Set a structure of your choice and share financial goals together. Have your own kickoff meeting to outline how and why you’ll work together. Map out a goal and a timeline. Maybe you’ll text each other every other day about it or do a Zoom call once a week over the weekend.

Commit to action. Do regular check-ins to stay on track, and be intentional about taking steps toward the goal. Agree on how — and how often — you’ll chat and compare notes. Research shows, in fact, that regular, more frequent progress updates may boost your chances of success. After all, two heads are better than one.

Keep moving forward. Work through challenges and celebrate wins. An accountability partner is someone who will encourage you and offer potential solutions if you fall short — not pass judgment or join you in defeat. Sharing ways to motivate each other to succeed next time, and celebrating when you do, is the essence of a strong accountability partnership. Bottom line: It’s important not to let yourself get stuck.

Acknowledge change. Reevaluate your goals and the partnership. Keep in mind that financial goals may need resetting — either along the way or after you achieve them. Should they be raised higher or lower? What’s working and what’s not? Also examine the partnership. Do you still have a lot in common and are you engaging well on what you planned?

Achieving financial success together

Having a financial accountability partner can be a win-win strategy for many reasons. And keeping these benefits and guidelines in mind can help. With someone you trust on your money team, you’ll always have the support and motivation of a personal financial coach to make progress on the financial goals that mean the most to you.