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6 min read

How to Help a Friend in Debt

If you think your friend may be in debt, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to help. We’ve covered some tips which may be helpful when considering how best to help a friend in debt.

Two friends talking about debt

When people have been close for a long time, it’s normal to notice when something might be wrong. Perhaps your friend has become more withdrawn or maybe they are more reluctant to join you on nights out. Regardless, it’s never easy to watch someone you care about struggle.

Fortunately, if you suspect your friend has a debt problem, there are several things you can do about it:

Is my friend in debt?

If your friend isn’t quite themselves, there may certainly be other reasons. Therefore, without asking them about their finances directly, here are five ways you can identify if they’re struggling with money:

  • They talk about working extra hours or are searching for additional employment.
  • Their cards are declined when shopping for goods or services.
  • They start applying for alternative financial products, such as payday loans.
  • Unopened bills are lying around their house.
  • They receive more phone calls than usual – these could be from creditors requesting money.

How do I talk to my friend about debt?

When we’re struggling with money, many of us will keep the matter to ourselves. It’s not completely unheard of for those in debt to wait months or even years before seeking help. As a result, confronting your friend about their financial situation can be difficult. When it comes to having this conversation, try:

  • Not to judge, but to support. Playing the ‘blame game’ over money issues never ends well.
  • Talking to them in confidence.
  • Sharing stories of your debt problems and how you dealt with them.
  • Reassuring them that debt can be overcome.
  • Not offering a solution but instead presenting a variety of options and letting them choose.

How to help a friend in debt

One option which comes to mind when helping a friend out of debt is to repay what they owe yourself. However, unless you’re in an excellent financial position, this solution may not be suitable. Furthermore, if you resolve their debts for them, there is a chance your friend could just get into financial difficulty again.

Without paying their debts for them, here are several ways you can help:

1. Be someone to talk to

Being in debt can be an isolating experience so it’s impossible to overstate just how valuable a supportive voice can be. Listen to their situation, be non-judgmental, and let them know they aren’t alone.

At the very least, this can make the burden of debt much easier to bear.

2. Help them find extra work

Although it’s essential to maintain a good work/life balance, there might be some ways your friend can earn some extra cash. Potentially, it might be possible for them to get a better job, request a pay rise, or do some extra hours. Furthermore, if they have a spare room, could this be rented out to a lodger? Between the both of you, you should be able to come up with some ideas to either bring in more money or make some cuts.

3. Plan inexpensive activities

When in debt, it’s difficult to not impose a form of self-exile. Your friend probably won’t want to go out or do anything which costs money. Although this makes financial sense, it’s not great for a person’s mental wellbeing. As a result, take the lead and come up with some free activities the both of you can do together.

Just because someone’s struggling with money doesn’t mean they have to become a hermit.

4. Help them set up a budget

Before seeking help with debt, it’s important to get a good idea of the situation. By working together on a budget, you can identify exactly how much your friend has coming in and going out. This may also identify options for cutting back or bring spending under control.

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