There are many out there that like to think of themselves as a good, supportive friend. In times of trouble in life, we turn to our friends for their guidance, opinion and understanding. In the same way, your friends will turn to you. When you have friends dealing with money issues and being in debt, it can be uncomfortable. This isn’t because you or they are doing anything wrong, but because debt is still very much a subject that is taboo, it’s difficult to know how to offer support, especially if you’ve never been through it yourself. When your friends go through divorce and bereavement, you want to be there for them and let them lean on you and being in debt can be just as scary and devastating as anything else. Debt is just not talked about as much as it should be, especially when so many of us have debt in some way.
The reason that debts can be so hard to talk about is because they usually come about due to our own impulses. Some debts, such as buying a house and student loans, can be considered to be good debts to have, because you get a house and an education out of them. Credit card debt and catalogue debt, however, is often down to buying too much without having the money to do it. It’s embarrassing to talk about for a lot of people, but it really shouldn’t be. Debt is a big part of our life of consumerism today, and while no one wants to be in debt at all, it does happen. There’s no one suggesting that to be a better friend to someone in debt that you should look into guarantor loans to help them to consolidate their debts, but there are a lot of things that you could be doing to be there for them in a time of need. Keeping your friendship running as smoothly as possible should be your top priority, but it can be difficult if you don’t know how you can help. Below, we’ve outlined three ways you can support your financially fraught friend.
1) Limit Activities Involving Money
Someone who is in debt doesn’t need to be constantly invited to the theatre or for drinks. They cannot afford to do it in their budget and every time they get invited to be somewhere that could cost money, all it does is raise feelings of guilt and worry and make them feel inferior. As a good friend, this is obviously going to be the last thing on your mind as you won’t want them to feel any less because they’re in difficulty and living to a budget. Instead of mentioning it or getting upset that your friend may step back from financially motivated activities, why not suggest places to go that don’t involve spending much? You could invite them on a picnic after a visit to a free museum. You could take in galleries and treat for a cheap lunch. You could even just have a duvet day watching weepy films on the TV. It let’s them know that their financial status doesn’t dictate your friendship.
2) The Little Things Are Big Deals
A cup of coffee at Starbucks may be nothing to someone like you who can afford that cup of coffee, but to someone in financial straits it can be the difference between being able to put an extra fiver on their electricity meter. Instead, swap your coffee morning in your favourite café for coffee at their house or yours. You can invest in a coffee machine if you want to, and then you can play barista. All the fun with none of the expense.
3) Don’t Offer Money
Your friend is going to feel embarrassed enough as it is, without you being wonderful and offering them some cash to help them. Be there for them emotionally and support them in everything that they need from you, but don’t give out money like sweets. There’s an unwritten reciprocation rule here and they’ll feel that they have to repay you in some way even if you decline the cash back. Mixing money and friendship is not a good idea. Just be supportive.
Your friends may not be able to head out to lavish spa days when they’re in financial straits, but that doesn’t mean that they want to be treated any less. Be mindful of your language and ensure that you are available as a shoulder to lean on – trust me when I say they’ll be grateful.