What If Your Finances Are Solid, But You See Friends in Trouble?

woman holding piggy bank and credit card

Perhaps your own finances are rock solid, but you have a friend or family member who needs financial help. How can you help them help themselves?

If someone has run out of money, they may not take you seriously if you tell them “just make a budget!” That’s kind of like telling an overweight person that they should “just go to the gym!”

Sure, it’s sensible advice, but to some people – especially people who are struggling –it seems unreachable, unattainable, and a little out of touch with reality. Making a budget, just like going to the gym and eating healthy foods, really does work. So how can we motivate others to follow suit?

Lead by Example

Actions speak louder than words. Lecturing somebody about the importance of living within your means may not be effective. But if somebody sees you actually living a good day-to-day example of this lifestyle, they may be inspired.

Though your example, they’ll see that a frugal/reasonable lifestyle can be fun. You enjoy life, spend time with your friends and family, and don’t feel deprived, even though you’re not racking up credit-card debt to pay for large backyard grills and flat-screen TV’s. You also sleep easier at night, and you pile up enough savings to take a fun vacation every now and again.

By setting an example, you make it socially acceptable (among your social circle) to live below your means. People will see that you’re confident and self-assured, without feeling the need to be flashy. This will help them realize that they don’t need to impress others with their big house or large jewelry, either.

So perhaps you don’t need to say a word. Just quietly live the example of avoiding consumer debt and living in a smaller house than you can afford. People will start to notice, and those who are buckling under the stress of their finances will be impressed by your sharp decision-making.

At that point, they may come to you for advice, and that’s the best time to start verbally sharing your thoughts. People often listen best when they’re the ones who initiate the conversation.

Mention Big-Picture Values

Your friends and family may not be interested in the technical details of how you allocate your assets or structure your life insurance plans. They may be interested in hearing about the big-picture values you carry relating to money.

You don't need to watch their eyes glaze over when you start rambling about the difference between term life vs. whole life insurance plans. You may want to casually mention in conversation that you’ve made sure that your family is covered in case something unfortunate happens to you.

You don’t need to delve into depth about compounding interest and asset allocation. But you may want to mention that you’re saving 10% of your income for retirement.

You don't need to discuss the fine details of how to lay out a budget. But you may want to mention that you save 20% each paycheck towards big-ticket future items like buying a car, taking an international vacation, or buying the house of your dreams.

Once you plant the seed in their minds about these big-picture goals, dreams, and values, your friends and family will take it upon themselves to learn about the small details. And when they have questions about these details, they’ll ask you.

Give Books

People may not want to talk about heavy topics, such as money, with their friends and family. They may be interested in reading a book that offers clear, well-organized advice, statistics, and information about these issues.

For an investment of about $10 you can give your friend a budgeting or personal finance book that you highly recommend.

Most personal finance experts strongly recommend against giving loans to your friends. But no one objects to giving somebody a $10 book that could change their lives.

Not sure where to start? Liz Weston, Beth Kobliner and Jean Chatzky are some of today’s most well-regarded personal finance writers.

There are plenty of niche writers in the personal finance world, as well. Dave Ramsey is popular in the Christian personal finance sphere, while Trent Hamm is popular in the frugality and saving niche. Bethany and Scott Palmer co-authored a book about marriage and money. Zac Bissonnette writers for a younger crowd, focusing on college and money in your 20’s.