4 People, 4 Budgets: How a Money Club Changed My Life
Connie Montana, 49, already had a passion for managing money when she heard the founders of the Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE) speak at a financial literacy group meeting.
But when she learned that the average woman is widowed by 67 and spends an average of 15 years on her own, Montana, who’d been working as a corporate social responsibility project manager at Bank of America, realized that she wasn’t as financially prepared for the future as she thought … and neither were her friends.
So she formed a money club with three of those very pals in November 2010—a group that she christened “The Budget Babes.”
How the Club Works
During each month’s 90-minute meeting (usually held over a potluck dinner), members share financial attitudes, goals and successes. To facilitate discussion, they use “zones,” or predefined topics ranging from budgeting to providing for parents. “We primarily use the zones, but in an ad-hoc manner,” Connie explains. “For example, we’ll switch up the order or add a different topic that matches member needs or interests.”
In other words, there’s plenty of room for customization. For a recent meeting that focused on the retirement planning zone, each member chose circumstance-specific homework to share at the next powwow—like attending a webinar on a new company retirement offering, researching 401(k)s and contacting benefits coordinators to verify current account balances.
The Budget Babes also look forward to a “field trip” each year. This year, it’s a bread-making session at Budget Babe Rosemary Bauer’s home. “She is the queen of budget gourmet at home!” says Connie.
We wanted the inside scoop on the inner workings of this unique money klatch, so they sat down with us to share how their club helped them team up to squash debt and trim spending in the midst of an economic downturn.