How to be a good friend to someone struggling with their finances.

By Hayley Hemmings
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Personal finance is still very much a taboo subject these days, especially in relation to sensitive money matters.

Money, without a doubt, is very much part of our everyday lives. For some of us, money problems arise that actually end up taking over our lives. According to *October statistics from The Money Charity, 2,102 CCJs are issued every day and a person is made bankrupt or insolvent every 5 minutes and 50 seconds.

Those are extreme statistics of course, but the truth is that many people do experience some kind of difficulty with money during their lifetime. Money worries can really take their toll on a person’s life. Despite how common money problems are, we as a nation seem to find the topic of money difficult to discuss – even with friends.

There are actually some great benefits to be had by being open and honest about money with friends, see here. If you can let your friends know if or when you’re struggling with money, they could help you to cope better.

For example, you might feel more comfortable saying “no” to situations where you would otherwise have to spend money, if you know your friends already understand your financial position.

And if you have a friend who is experiencing financial difficulties themselves, in turn you may find that you can be a great support to them once you’ve started having money conversations.

These tips below could help you identify friends who might need your support and give you some pointers on helping them get into a better place financially.

Recognise a Friend with Money Problems

It’s not always easy to tell when a friend is struggling financially. The first thing to do in order to support your friend is to actually recognise that they’re in trouble. There are some classic warning signs to look out for. If you notice your friend doing any of these things below, they could be struggling with money.

·        Withdrawing from your social circle and cancelling meet ups for various reasons.

·        Avoiding conversations about money.

·        Working extra hours or getting a part-time job.

·        Spending on credit more frequently than normal.

·        Letting unopened credit card statements pile up.

·        Drinking alcohol to excess, weight loss or weight gain (in conjunction with one or more of the above signs).

Approach the Subject of Money

If you have a friend who is experiencing money problems, you could help by encouraging them to talk about what’s going on. By talking things though, solutions may present themselves more easily. As the saying goes, two heads are often better than one!

If your friend is avoiding money conversations, you could try bringing up the subject of your own finances first, perhaps by talking about your past experiences, or the present. Keep your tone light and casual rather than serious, as this may help your friend to feel more comfortable.

Money problems can be isolating and it does help to know that you’re not alone. Your friend may feel like they can confide in you, if they know you’ll be able to relate.

Don’t Put Pressure on Your Friend

One thing you shouldn’t do if you know that your friend is struggling with money, is put pressure on them to take part in activities that involve spending. You wouldn’t want to do this intentionally of course, but what you might not realise is that even meeting up for a quick drink could be enough to cause more money problems for your friend.

For example, your friend may have to consider the cost of transport to actually meet you for a drink, plus the drink itself and any other expenditure along the way. If you paid last time you met up, they may be worrying that they need to pay this time.

For someone struggling with their finances, every purchasing decision will need to be weighed up. So be aware of this when you’re asking them to take part in social activities with you. You could invite them to your house or go around to their place instead to make things cheaper for them.

Resist the Urge to Pay

Following on from the above point, it’s really tempting to offer to pay for someone to take part in something that costs money, if you know they can’t afford it.

You might want to treat your friend to dinner or a few drinks out, but think twice before doing this. By offering to pay for your friend, you could end up making them feel like a charity case or unintentionally put pressure on them as they may feel the need to pay you back.

Paying for your friend is fine, when you know that they will be truly comfortable with the situation of course. But on the whole, what your friend really needs is your support and understanding – not your money.

Be Sensitive about Your Own Money Matters

Lastly, it’s worth being aware of how your friend might feel if you decide to tell them about your own financial successes when they arise.

You’ll rightly want to celebrate your own financial successes, but doing this might make your friend feel worse if they are struggling financially. They may end up comparing your financial successes to their own money problems – and that may not be helpful for them. So perhaps be mindful of their feelings in advance.

Top Takeaway

As a nation, we’d probably all benefit from greater transparency around money matters. If we could talk freely about money, life might just be a bit easier. We could learn from the financial mistakes that others have made and do more to better our own financial position.

Why not be the one to start the money conversation with your own friends? And if you do find that you have a friend in need of your support, you could consider the above ways to show it.

 

What do you think about money still being a taboo subject?

 

*Statistics correct at the time of writing this post.

 

Author Bio: Hayley Hemmings is a freelance writer, blogger and tea addict from Yorkshire. She’s passionate about money matters, frugal living and loves anything handmade. When Hayley’s not writing, she’s most likely to be found enjoying snuggles with her little girl or walking her border collie through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.  

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