Would you out a friend’s spending patterns on Facebook?

A few weeks ago I received word of a Facebook application called Buddy Bailout.  It’s a spin on the giant corporate bailouts that have happened recently, and in part it plays on people’s thinking: “Why can’t I get a bailout, too?  I sure could use one.”

Maybe one of that person’s friends (a) knows that they could use one, too, and (b) wants to point out the main reason why they’re in the position of needing to be bailed out.

That’s where Buddy Bailout comes in.  How it works (currently):

  • Choose a Facebook friend that needs to be bailed out (i.e. has a spending issue).
  • Choose from one of more than two dozen common spending issues that best matches what the issue is.
  • Post it to their wall, with a message saying something like “Mighty Bargain Hunter thinks YOU need a bailout!” and gives the specific reason why.

Bills.com, the designer of the application, uses this as an introduction to the website, which provides financial information and other services.  The direct, in-your-face communication style of the application reminds me of Larry Winget’s, which can be very effective and helpful at the time when it’s needed most.  Staring your problems square in the face, and accepting responsibility for them, is the first step towards working them out.

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.  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.

These “bailout messages” are wall posts.  Users typically set permissions so that their friends can see their wall posts, so the “bailout message” would be visible not just to them, but to anyone who could view their wall.  The bailout posts are what people need to hear, but probably not what they want to hear even in private, let alone in the semi-public world of their Facebook wall.  For me, it would be a very risky move, with respect to relationships, to post a bailout message for somebody.  It could work out if that person’s friends support my observation, but the message could just as easily be ignored, or worse, attacked.  In any case, everyone knows now that I think my friend spends too much money at Starbucks, and that can’t be taken back.

I know some people aren’t bothered by confrontation, and even thrive on it.  I don’t like confrontation at all, so the thought of it affects how I behave in different circumstances.  Another thing that may come into play is the traditionally private realm of personal finance.  I’m sure open discussion of personal spending habits wouldn’t have happened in the past, but is it time now?

What do you think?  Would you broach the subject of a person’s spending patterns on Facebook?

(Note:  If you have a money question and want to ask it on your own terms, head over to Cash Commons.)

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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  1. says

    While I’m all for helping family and friends with financial issues, confronting them in such a public venue (Facebook) is a bit much — and impersonal. If an intervention is going to happen, I’d rather speak with someone face-to-face. Otherwise, I see far too many relationships being damaged by an application such as this!

  2. says

    I am super happy that this wasn’t invented two years ago because I’m sure I’d have gotten it from everyone of my friends. I wouldn’t do this to anyone because I know how hard it was for me to face. I think it would be really … ouch.

  3. Beth says

    Goodness! I think that’s an awful idea! If you really believe a friend is oblivious to her own financial problems, a gentle chat might be a helpful first step but a public announcement is just plain rude. Indeed, it suggests that although the person who posts it might be financial genius, she’s an interpersonal dunce.

  4. says

    I would not. Facebook is such a public forum and even though I’m all for being honest and open about one’s finances, there’s a difference between telling a friend you’re worried versus blasting them in front of all THEIR friends and contacts. An application like this seems to say to me that my friend is more interested in making fun of my situation than being genuinely concerned about me. Finances is such a sensitive subject as is.

  5. says

    I am with beth! I don’t think the people who created the application thought about how Americans do not even talk about money nevertheless call out their friends

  6. says

    It seems like Buddy Bailout has good intentions but I don’t like the idea of splashing it on your Facebook page for the whole world to see. If someone did that for me I would have to immediately hide it.

    Now, if it was a real bail out I’d be all for it!

  7. AJ says

    If this were sent as an email to the friend, I’d probably be okay with it, but as a wall post? No way! Even though I can think of people who need it, and they acknowledge they need it, not everyone needs to know their personal business like that.

  8. Billy says

    Facebook seems to be mostly for kids/teens with alot of idle time so not sure if they are really interested in finances. Guess it would be ok then.

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