Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Want to lose friends and influence no one?

Facebook app lets you chide your friends about their bad spending habits.

By Teresa Mears Mar 2, 2010 4:50PM

From Mighty Bargain Hunter comes news of yet another useless Facebook application: Buddy Bailout, in which friends confront friends about their bad spending habits.

 

Is your friend The Fashionista, The Gambler, The Credit Abuser or The Over-Blinged? Maybe he needs a public nudge, with a posting headlined “(Your name here) thinks YOU need a bailout!”

Just think what it will do to the relationship when you post on your best friend’s wall, “Your ride looks great, but you can't afford the gas to drive it. Pimp out your bank account, not your ride.”

 

Let us channel Suze Orman for a moment and scream with our best Midwestern twang: “Are you kidding?!!!” At least with a Suzi Smackdown the financial failure gets a choice about whether to appear on the show.

The application was created by Bills.com, a financial Web site that dispenses otherwise conventional financial advice in a conventional manner, through articles and experts’ answers to questions.

 

“Mbhunter” thinks the Buddy Bailout app could have some use: “Staring your problems square in the face, and accepting responsibility for them, is the first step towards working them out,” he wrote.

 

“Buddy Bailout sends the message in a genuine, often lighthearted way, but the point of the message is still right there. So for that, I applaud them. Getting people toward responsible spending habits is a fantastic endeavor," he said. "But, as this application is now, I personally wouldn’t have the guts to use it, even if I knew it could do an incredible amount of good for the person on the other end.”

 

Could it really do any good?

 

Would sending your friends such public advice as “Starbucks already has millions of $$. Keep your $$ and brew your own coffee” or “Those drinks after work to unwind are throwing your money down the drain” help him see the error of his ways? Would your fashionista friend be enlightened by this suggestion: “Gucci! Prada! Fendi! Buy at Ross, and your wallet won't suffer a loss.”

MSN Money columnist Liz Pulliam Weston has written about how to deal with friends and family members who are, to put it bluntly, headed for “a money train wreck.” We all have them. Confrontation, especially in a public forum, is not the way to go, she advises.

 

Any advice should be given carefully, she adds. Your friends’ and relatives’ money problems really aren’t your business, unless they are expecting you to bail them out.

 

If you think that their financial problems could become yours, Liz offers this advice:

  • Set your own boundaries. How much do you want to, and are you able to, help financially?
  • Find a professional, or at least a neutral third party, to provide guidance.
  • Have a conversation, not a confrontation. If you think your relatives or friends are expecting money from you, you might gently mention that you won’t be contributing. Then quit talking about the issue.

We suggest you ignore, reject or block the Buddy Bailout app. Resist the temptation to share such helpful advice as “Fly commercial, leave the private jet at home. Better for your wallet and the environment. ”

 

OK, maybe that one is funny.

 

Related reading:

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