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The Debt Diet Challenge Week #4: The Buddy System

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The Debt Diet is an online behavioral change program to help users get out of debt by putting aside $10 a day.  It was developed by Pro-Change Behavior Systems and Jean Chatzky, author of the best-selling Pay It Down and a coach on The Debt Diet series on the Oprah show.

Jean Chatzky read the applications solicited by Credit.com and chose 5 participants.  She got them started on The Debt Diet and is now speaking to them once a week, answering their questions and helping them to get off to a good start.  For their part, our participants are doing The Debt Diet exercises, which include tracking their spending, negotiating monthly bills (using The Debt Diet scripts) and trying to modify their heavy-spending ways.  You can find The Debt Diet ($49.95) at jeanchatzky.com. The participants also blog regularly on Credit.com about their experiences with The Debt Diet.

I was on the phone with Penny who has been doing well on the Debt Diet.  The repair of her husband’s truck, which she feared would be $1,100 if not more, came in around $700.  That allowed her to continue to lay off the credit cards, look forward to beefing up the payment on her Dell account next month, and save something. “I have $100 in one bank and $230 in another.  I’ve never had any savings before.”  She’s feeling good.  But what struck me most was what she said at the end of the call: “I read Erin’s blog,” she said.  “I can tell she’s having a hard time.  Tell her I’m pulling for her.”

There is no challenge that is not made easier by having someone on your side, someone on your team, someone expecting you to face up to the test before you and knock it out of your way.  This is why I have a running partner.  If my friend Diane was not out there waiting for me in the dead of winter to trudge five miles on the freezing ground, there is no way I would be leaving the house.  In fact, the chances are pretty good I wouldn’t get any exercise at all.

I know that one reason our debt diet participants keep going is the weekly phone call from me.  I am, in these calls, less coach than cheerleader (the Debt Diet program is coach enough.  It tells you what to do, which bills to pay off in which order, for instance, and how to improve your credit score.)  On my weekly call, I encourage them to keep going. I acknowledge setbacks but urge focusing forward—on what you can control, not on the recent past and what you can’t. And so, this week, I want to encourage you—if you decide to take on the Debt Diet, do it with a friend.  Or do it with your spouse.  You need a Debt Buddy.

So that when you look outside and think, “no way, no how am I getting dressed to run in this weather” you’ll have a Diane who’s sitting there.  Waiting.  And you will get dressed.  And leave the house.  And run.  Simply because you don’t want to let her down.

(I’ll let the participants tell what happened themselves, this week.  You can read their blogs here.)

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