Financial issues in particular can be especially daunting to help with — our society has trouble talking about money, and these issues feel very personal.
But watching a loved one undergo financial trials and tribulations is so difficult, that it’s hard not to try helping.
It may sound easy to simply lend them money, or tell them to stop spending, but these suggestions come with their own issues. If you’ve ever found yourself unsure of how you can help a friend with financial issues, you’re in the right place. We’ll go through how to assess the situation and decide on easy ways to help.
What are their needs?
Before discussing what we can do to help, it’s important to assess what are your loved one’s specific needs. An individual’s financial issues can come from a plethora of things including losing a job, impulse control struggles, crippling debt, and so on.
If the opportunity arises, it would be helpful to sit down with your loved one and talk about what they need, and where the problems might be. Try reading this guide on general principles for helping someone else first.
Financial conversations can be overwhelming to start, due to the sensitive nature of the topic. But the more you lay on the table, the better both of you can come up with some solutions!
How can I help with someone’s excessive spending?
If your loved one has a spending habit, it’s natural to simply tell them “spend less!” Advice like this sounds easy in theory, but is harder for the other person to implement. There are better ways to offer more concrete help when someone you care about has financial issues.
Take a finance class together
Learning how to manage finances isn’t something you’re traditionally taught in school. As a result, it’s normal to feel lost and confused when it comes to these matters. Fortunately there are many free or inexpensive finance classes available online that go over basics such as reducing your expenses, managing debt, and much more. Pointing your loved one towards these courses can help with teaching them the ins and outs of finances. And if you don’t know much about finances yourself, it’s a good opportunity to learn alongside them.
Suggest tools for managing spending
One of the best things anyone can do to manage financial issues is to track your spending. Tracking your spending shows you exactly what is going on with your finances, and how you can change your approach in the future.
A common, tried and true method is to simply use a spreadsheet to document things such as how much you’re making, your weekly and monthly expenses, and so on.
But using a spreadsheet is time consuming, so most people turn to apps such as Mint and Personal Capital. Apps like these can track how much you spend and have features like setting specific budgets or free credit scores. Best of all, they’re free to use, so show your loved one these options and see if it may help their situation.
Be the (not too aggressive) angel on their shoulder
One of the easiest and simplest ways to help is to help your loved one be conscious about spending. Everyone needs a second opinion from time to time, it’s extremely important to make sure your finances are on-track.
Of course not every spending matter needs to be deliberated on, but for bigger or less necessary purchases, it helps to gently mention and guide your loved one in the right direction.
How can I help in other ways?
Taking classes and tracking spending are wonderful ways to help your loved one, but in situations like living paycheck to paycheck or losing a job, the solutions are a lot less clear cut. Here are some ways you can help them work through this.
Help them find resources to save more money
One way you can help your loved one with financial issues, is to help them use every resource available to them. For instance, in the US there are food stamp programs designed to help individuals pay for basic food needs. Low income and disability resources also abound.
Here is a tool to find any possible government benefits, and here is a low-income rental assistance tool. Try searching local agencies to find more programs for someone getting on their financial feet.
Walk through the process with your loved one, helping them to stay on track. Try guiding them through the application or driving them to any appointments, for instance. This may do wonders in the long run, helping them accumulate more savings over time.
Assist with job searching
If your loved one recently lost their job, it might feel like you can’t do much to help, but don’t fret. If possible, ask your loved one if it would help for you to take a look over their resume. A second or third pair of eyes is always helpful for small tweaks that may help improve their opportunities. Make sure to remind them they don’t have to follow your suggestions. NO pressure.
Ask your loved one if there’s anything they may need help with in particular, such as transportation or practice interviews. Sometimes even waiting outside while they attend an interview provides enough moral support!
Job searching is hard, and it means the world for someone if you let them know you’re there for them.
Have fun together on a budget
Sometimes the best way to help someone is to simply go out and have fun — without spending. Recreational activities can take our minds off of whatever is plaguing us and help improve our mental health. Reducing the fog in our brains may make us less prone to rash decisions, which may in turn help their spending.
It may take some time to adjust and accommodate some lifestyle changes due to financial issues, but there’s always a way to have fun at a minimal or no cost.
Cooking: Cooking the majority of your meals is a wonderful way to save money. If you or your loved one don’t have much experience cooking, there are lots of resources for aspiring chefs of all levels!
Baking: Just like cooking, baking is another great way to save money. It’s generally easier to learn than cooking and is a nice way to treat yourselves.
Game Night: Some board games are in the pricier range, but there are many others that are relatively inexpensive and can be fun for hours at a time. Another option is a deck of cards, as there are many different kinds of games you can play with a simple, inexpensive deck of cards.
TV Binging: Most streaming services have free trials available, so it’s a good excuse to sit in and have fun without spending much money.
Walks: If the weather permits, taking a walk through your neighborhood or local parks is a nice way to have fun without spending any money. Physical activity has the added benefit of stimulating your brain and promoting healthy brain growth.
Libraries: Your local library has a wide array of books to check out, free of charge. In addition, depending on your library, you can also rent DVDs and video games for free.
Financial issues are not easily managed, but it’s much easier when someone you love has your back.
And before you offer help, refresh yourself on best practices for lending a hand.