5 Ways to Help a Friend Going Through Financial Hardship
A good friend is always there to help, in good times and bad. But if a close friend of yours is struggling with financial problems such as a job loss, overwhelming debt, or major expenses like medical bills, it can be hard to know how to help.
Often, giving or lending money is not the best solution. While there may be situations when providing a small amount of cash is harmless, this isn’t always the case. A friendship can quickly get complicated once money is involved, especially if this leads to resentment over an unpaid debt or if this gets in the way of your own financial needs.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways you can help. In honor of the International Day of Friendship, which is July 30, we’ll show you how to help a friend who’s struggling financially without having to spend your own money.
1. Emotional Support
Being emotionally supportive is the best place to start. Here’s how.
Listen, Don’t Judge
Financial problems are about more than dollars and cents. Your friend may be dealing with anxiety and depression. Take the time to learn about their situation. Even if you feel you have the answer, listen first. Simply making yourself available to let them talk about what they’re going through can provide much-needed relief.
Share Your Own Experiences
Maybe you’ve dealt with similar financial issues in the past. Whether it was out-of-control credit cards or a job loss, don’t be afraid to talk about your own experiences and how you got through them. For those experiencing financial hardship, it can be comforting to find out that their situation isn’t unique – or permanent. Telling your story can also provide insight to help them deal with their own financial struggles.
Connect Them With Outside Help
If your friend is dealing with stress or other mental health challenges due to their financial issues, encourage them to seek help from a professional or support group.
2. Support at Home
People who are living paycheck-to-paycheck or trying to climb out of debt can easily feel overwhelmed by their financial circumstances, which can make it harder to manage other areas of life. Instead of lending money, you can help them in small ways that relieve their stress and give them more time to focus on their priorities.
- Invite them over to dinner or offer to cook meals to freeze.
- Babysit for free so that they can get a night to themselves or some much-needed rest.
- Help them clean, declutter, or organize.
- Lend a hand with yardwork or small household repairs.
If they decline your offers of support, don’t press the issue. They have the right to say no with dignity. They know that you’re available to help and may still take you up on it later.
3. Career Support
If the issue is related to a job loss, use your own professional savvy to help them find a new opportunity.
- Help them write or revise their resume or cover letter.
- Create or update their profile on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other career sites.
- Teach them to use a software platform or help them learn another professional skill to increase their job prospects.
- Practice interviewing with them.
- Take them shopping for a new interview outfit. Make sure you’re clear about how much they feel comfortable spending.
4. Network Support
Helping a friend with their career issues or other challenges may be tough for you, but you might know someone who can help. To start, offer to send out an email or make a discreet post on your professional social media network.
Does your friend have a very specific financial need and a compelling story, such as the need to cover medical expenses or pay for their child’s summer camp? Encourage them to set up a crowdfunding campaign and share it with your network.
5. Financial Support & Guidance
If your friend is open to it, help them take small steps to clean up their finances, such as organizing paperwork, creating a plan to repay debt, setting and following a budget, or better managing their banking. These steps can help.
As much as you want to support your friend, there may be some financial issues beyond your ability to help. If your friend is facing a bankruptcy or being hounded by creditors, work with them to find a reputable, free or low-cost credit counseling service.
This organization could help your friend create a debt-management plan, avoid future debt, and negotiate debt repayment with their creditors. Some organizations may offer access to legal guidance. The Federal Trade Commission offers tips for finding a legitimate credit counselor and avoiding a debt-relief service that is a scam.
Support for American Heritage Members
At American Heritage, we know that financial difficulties can be a reality for many. Through our partnership with Clarifi, a trusted nonprofit agency in our area, we can help members access valuable guidance and financial education to help them get through financial hardships and build greater financial security. Learn more about Clarifi here.