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.)