By Mickey Rox
When a friend or family member comes knocking for cash, pause before opening your wallet – because rarely does this situation go off without a hitch. That’s not to say you can’t lend a helping hand – you can – but your goodwill doesn’t have to put a dent in your own financial situation. Steer the conversation away from handouts with these alternatives to providing support without it costing you a dime.
Offer personal advice
Your friend or family member isn’t the first person to fall upon hard times financially; we’ve all been there. Discuss your personal hurdles, as well as how you overcame those issues. When somebody knows they’re not alone in their struggles, it often gives them the necessary confidence to get back on the right track. Offer your assistance, but not easy money. If you do, you might be opening a Pandora’s box of coming back for more.
Help them set up a budget
Do you have a budget that works for you? If you’ve been successful in this area of your finances, there’s nothing wrong with offering this “service.” As easy as budgeting may be for you, others find it extremely challenging. Sit down with your friend, show them what a solid budget entails, and illustrate how they can use this to their advantage moving forward. Talk to them about how they can cut the fat from their expenses, show them how to use apps to get cash back, and teach them a few of your tricks on saving on everyday items, like gas and groceries. Laziness is no excuse to spend more than necessary, but it’s the root problem of many people’s financial crises.
Let them know that you’re available in other ways
Everybody faces rough financial patches from time to time. When you have somebody to lean on it’s much easier to make your way through these periods and come out a better person in the long run. Don’t turn your back if your friend needs an ear. Instead, let them know you’re available – to talk, listen, and offer advice. You may be surprised at how much assistance you can lend by being their sounding board.
Review their income and expenses
There’s a fine line between helping a friend and going beyond your duty. If the person is open to you reviewing their financial situation, including income and expenses, sit down at a convenient time to see what is going on. Many people need another set of eyes for them to truly realize where they’re running into trouble.
Note: If you are not comfortable with this, there’s nothing wrong with telling your friend that you’d rather not see their personal information. It may be easiest to simply give your friend money and hope it helps them financially. While it may get the person out of a jam for the time being, they are likely to face the same problems again in the future.
Show them how to make new money
There’s no shortage of fast ways to make cash if you work the gig economy to your advantage. Resources like Instacart, Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, Roadie, DoorDash and Rover.com provide opportunities to anyone with a home or car to make extra income with little effort. Any one of these resources can help bring in hundreds of dollars per week when you’re dedicated, and that may be the ticket to getting your friend or family back on track without digging into your own pockets. They’ll be better for it, too. Teach a person to fish and all.
—Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He spends his time writing from the beach with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyrox.