Most of us know someone who is struggling financially and can’t seem to catch a break. Whether trouble comes from external circumstances or their own doing, everyone has a friend or two who has a hard time making ends meet.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say, or exactly how to help a friend who is struggling financially. You can’t put yourself in trouble (or give up your own fiscal goals) by bailing them out, especially not repeatedly—but that doesn’t make you helpless. In fact, you may be a tremendous help for your friend, even if you’re not a financial guru yourself.
1 Allow them to say “no, thanks.” Make sure to give your friend an out for anything that might cost money. Even if you’re offering a free activity, sometimes it costs them gas money they don’t have to make it work. Or childcare. Or time away from work.
2. Cook together. Avoid expensive outings by making an adventure of creating great meals. Continue to spend time with them in ways they can afford.
3. Offer support in ways that matter. Perhaps you can help with childcare, rides to and from work, or even just being a listening ear. Get creative with finding ways to support them.
4. Point them towards resources that can help. There are non-profit credit counselors qualified to help people get out of debt and stay financially free. Share that information with your friends. This not only gives them the tools they need to dig out, but it also relieves you of pressure to be the expert.
5. Consider how you can help, but be quiet about it. Anonymous Christmas gifts or school supplies for kids, footing the mechanic’s bill at the repair shop, or a grocery gift card in the mailbox can do wonders for someone’s spirits, but not if you’re acting like the hero and bringing attention to it.
6. Organize a clothing exchange. A clothing swap gives all participants the chance to donate their gently-used items to the collective group, and then pick out a number of items they need from the lot. Coordinate this event monthly or quarterly, so as kids grow, they can have a few free items regularly.
7. Put yourself in their shoes. Many of us have been in a similar situation, where the bills seem to just pile up faster than we can handle. If you recall, there are things people did and said that irked you. You can easily avoid those pitfalls now that you’re on better footing. Knowing how to help a friend in financial need can be as simple as imagining you’re in the same situation – what would you appreciate?
8. Be inspired by the sacrifices they make. When you see the financial sacrifices your friend makes to keep from going under, allow yourself to be impressed. It’s not easy to say “no” to activities that blow the budget, so be inspired to make good financial decisions alongside your friend. Believe it or not, this may spur your friend to stay the course and stick with that budget.
9. Advocate for financial changes. Often, a cycle of financial hardship is hard to get out of, and raising awareness can help. Speak up for those who struggle. Coordinate rides if they don’t have regular transportation. Volunteer in ways that enrich lives. Feeling extra ambitious? Run for town council or lobby elected officials to help the cause of those in need by tackling the issues that matter to them.
What are some other creative ways to help a friend who’s struggling financially? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
If you have a friend experiencing financial difficulty and they are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help them make sense of their options. CESI is here to help. Our counselors are available to assist if they are experiencing job loss, temporary loss of income, or financial hardship during this time. Let your friend know they can contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY