Money is not just about how much you have in your bank account – It’s about emotions. Consider a situation where one is suddenly hit with a medical bill or payment for car repairs, the feeling is terrifying, embarrassing, and often times can lead to depression. If you’re aware of someone who is going through trying times in terms of their finances, you may think that you can’t offer any help, or proffer solutions. Given, financial debt is highly personal, but if you really care about someone, you want to let them know that you’re there for them. But then again, before you try to have this conversation, make sure there is a problem!
Here are signs that someone you care about might be struggling with debt
Previous Issues with Debt: Have they come to you in the past with problems concerning debts?
New, Expensive “Must Have” Things: Do they try to meet up with the latest trends and acquire the most recent gadgets, yet complain to you about very minor problems?
Change in Weight: Remember the last time you hung out with them? Did they complain about the food or asked for several other plates? Putting on weight or losing several pounds can be a means to put up with their debt, and is a possible indicator that they need help.
Never Talks Finances: Do they try to evade every conversation that is linked with finances? This is another indicator because they are ashamed of their current situation.
Adjusting Spending Habits: This comes in two forms – either they are refusing to eat in their beloved restaurants, or they are spending excessively on silly items and putting them on a credit card.
Often Looks Tired or Mentions Insomnia: Have they mentioned being excessively worn out, or expressed their difficulty to sleep? This can be as a result of financial stress.
Life Event that Impacts Income: Have they experienced any disturbing situations like loss of a job, baby or spouse? These can also result in financial stress.
Change in Emotional State: Have they cut down on their participation in social activities? Do they appear to be in any way secluded, anxious, or very sad?
Mentions Money Worries: Have they mentioned that they are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Unable to pay their bills as at when due? Accumulating more and more debt?
The above-mentioned are behaviors that are often exhibited by people who are experiencing financial stress. So if you find any of your loved ones showing these signs, it may be an indication that they are going through financial stress, and may need your help. This help doesn’t necessarily mean handing them money, but a decent and honest conversation, as well as good advice can do the magic.
You should consider approaching your family member or loved one if you find them exhibiting these behaviors.
Here are seven ways to approach a friend or family member who is in financial trouble.
Help, Don’t Judge
During the conversation about their financial debt, pay attention to the tone of your voice – it must be gentle and not judgmental. It must not in any way point to their wrong doing or turned to a “you’re wrong – I’m right” situation.
Reach Out and Ask
If someone you’re concerned about expressed worry about finances in any way, they may be asking for your help indirectly. Let them know you’re concerned by asking questions about their recent behaviors and spending – for example with excessive shopping or very regular trips. Tell them that you think they may be hurting themselves financially. Inquire about ways that you can help them, however, be sure to let it go if they refuse.
Mention Your Own History of Debt
Recounting your financial experiences which are similar to someone you care about can put a lot into perspective for them, and help them feel more comfortable exploring their options with you. Also, letting them in on the methods you adopted to get out of debt can give them relief from a lot of stress and make them believe once again in their ability to overcome this situation, while at the same time keep them on track.
Be Supportive, Not Distracting
Anything that relates to gathering with family and friends is often accompanied with spending. Eating dinner together, going to the movies, or even grabbing a cup of coffee are expenses that may be beyond their budget owed to their debt. If you continue to pressure them into joining you for all these activities, they may grow tired of having to refuse every time, which may make them feel more depressed and guilty. Instead of doing this, inform them that you’re still interested in hanging out with them without having to spend. They still need to get in the midst of people, socialize and have a normal life in spite of their condition. Consider a bike ride within the neighborhood or the park, or just simply watching a movie at home. Always remember that people want to know that you care and support them rather than giving them money or paying for their stuff all the time.
Offer an exercise program or a financial diet. People tend to perform better if they have to report to someone. Assist them in goal-setting with regular assessments on how far they’ve gone and motivate them to stay the course.
Let Them Find the Solution
You may be upbeat to bring your friend out of their financial “hole,” but it’s their responsibility to find a debt solution. To start with, if you go out of your way to give financial assistance to your friend, they may begin to feel indebted to you. Secondly, if they come out of this by themselves they are more likely to learn from this and they will manage their money situations with more care in the future.
Recommend a Debt Relief Program
An example of a debt relief program is one that is offered by Freedom Debt Relief. These kinds of programs can lessen their debt, and get them back on their feet real quick. Doing as little as placing a phone call for a debt evaluation can cause them to feel less worried and disturbed about their situation. Ensure that the program which you select belongs to a company that is a member of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC).
Always show empathy every time you discuss about finances. There is no need to force the conversation – if they are not ready to tell you about it, then don’t bring it up. This way, you’re showing them that you’re an understanding friend and that you respect their privacy. Also, they’ll know that you’re an amazing friend that truly cares.