It’s hard to see a loved one under stress from financial strain and our need to “fix, rinse, repeat” can leave us feeling depleted both financially and emotionally when we jump on their financial roller coaster. Helping someone with their financial debt can create a crevice of emotional debt that can be hard to climb out of. Find a balance that honours your desire to help while protecting both your financial and emotional capacity.
The first step in helping anyone through a difficult situation is to talk about it. While conversations about money and finances can be awkward anytime, it can be especially so when the other person is struggling with it. But don’t be afraid of hard conversations! The last thing your loved one wants is to feel judged or be lectured about their poor financial decisions, which is probably why they’ve been internalizing their worries. Before starting the conversation with them, take a moment to assess your words. It’s important to address the topic gently and with empathy, but to not make light of the situation.
When friends and family are under a great deal of stress, sometimes they just need the support of someone who cares about them. A good cup of coffee and an hour to listen can go a long way. If you’re in a positive financial situation, perhaps share the wealth of your knowledge rather than the wealth of your bank account. Tools and strategies to build better budgeting habits are essential to stop the cycle of debt and forge a foundation for financial longevity.
Now that you both have begun being honest with each other about money and debt, this is a great opportunity to suggest being one another’s accountability partner. Decide how often you both will check in with each other about your money, so it doesn’t feel one-sided on their part. Most people find success when they have someone cheering them on, so be that person for your loved one.
Sometimes, at the end of the day, you can’t provide all the support your loved one needs. And that’s okay! Thankfully, there are many financial resources and services in Alberta to help them on their financial journey. Encourage your loved one to make an appointment with a free credit counselling organization (like Money Mentors!), who will walk them through their financial situation and provide unbiased, experienced advice. Whether it’s money coaching, credit counselling or debt consolidation, Money Mentors is here to support your loved one in whichever way they choose.
Just remember: While it’s commendable helping a loved one with their struggles, don’t forget about looking after yourself, too! In order to be the best support for someone, you need to support yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself in the process of helping your loved one with their debt and identify clear boundaries for you both.
Your loved one is lucky to have you in their life!