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Ask Chuck: Helping a Friend with Their Financial Stress

by Chuck Bentley January 26, 2024

Hey Chuck,

I work with someone who is under a great deal of financial stress. It’s beginning to affect his ability to work, and I want to help my friend. What approach do you recommend?  

Friendly Financial Help 


Dear Friendly Financial Help, 

I hate financial stress. It can be devastating to our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Far too many Americans are struggling with financial stress right now. The consequences of financial stress are real and to be taken seriously. A look at several recent surveys confirms this:

  • Forbes Advisor: 68% of Americans say financial regrets from 2023 caused stress. 48% think their situation will improve in 2024.
  • Experian: Two-thirds of American adults feel they have experienced financial trauma. 
  • CNBC: Three-fourths of working Americans say they are stressed about their personal finances. 61% of Americans describe their situation as “living paycheck to paycheck.”

Since I don’t know the source of financial pain in your friend’s situation, let’s examine the common causes. 

Causes of Financial Stress

Financial stress can be caused by many things:

  • Economy/inflation
  • Job loss/business failure
  • Investment loss
  • Bankruptcy/foreclosure
  • Lifestyle/overspending
  • Major unexpected expenses
  • Addictions
  • Death, divorce, or family issues
  • Financial illiteracy
  • Physical/mental health conditions

Impact of Financial Stress

People handle stress differently. The inability to cover bills causes many to borrow from friends or family. The repercussions may involve late penalties, utilities being cut, plummeting credit scores, repossessed vehicles, and more. Saving and giving are threatened in the face of survival, and, unfortunately, debt can spiral into more debt. Individuals often suffer with: 

  • Anxiety, depression, fear, and insecurity
  • Guilt, anger, and resentment
  • Substance abuse
  • Physical and emotional pain
  • Arguments and relationship strife
  • Hopelessness and suicide
  • Loss of sleep and altered eating habits
  • Avoidance, denial, hiding, and withdrawal
  • Reduced productivity
  • Lack of intimacy with God 

Ask Chuck Helping A Friend With Their Financial Stress

Helping a Friend with Their Financial Stress

One of the reasons I hate financial stress is that I can relate because of all of the mistakes I have made with money. It gives me compassion and a sincere desire to help others avoid it. Our deepest fellowship is often with those who share or have experienced common suffering. In the preface to The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis wrote, “When pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.” Compassion is a gift we crave in the midst of suffering and a gift we learn to offer others. 

Without any guilt trips, judgment, or condemnation, I would start by asking your friend if you can help. Explain that you desire to be an encouragement and support. If they agree to trust you, begin by asking questions. Can they analyze what can be done to immediately help the situation?  What can be sold? What bills can be negotiated: medical, credit cards, insurance, phone service, etc.? In critical situations, it may be necessary to cash in investments, withdraw from retirement funds, seek a personal or home equity loan, or use a balance transfer credit card. Make sure details and ramifications are clearly understood. Read the fine print, and do not hesitate to ask questions. 

Take one day at a time. Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 ESV) Worrying does not solve anything. 

So here are some practical steps to suggest to help your friend get on track:

  • Humble yourself, and pray.
  • Track spending, identify the problem, and get on a budget.
  • Set goals, and seek accountability with a trusted coach or mentor.
  • Seek temporary help from local food banks, churches, or government resources.
  • Read this article to avoid or reduce financial stress. Read “Climbing Out of a Financial Dark Hole” here.

Some talking points I might use: 

  • Do not try to forecast the future. Instead, look for the positives, and be grateful for all you have today. 
  • Cut all unnecessary spending. 
  • Implement a debt payoff plan. 
  • Exercise, walk, and spend time in nature. 
  • Seek counseling. 
  • Find cheaper housing and transportation. 
  • Choose from the numerous resources Crown has online to help with Biblical financial literacy. 
  • Find fun activities that do not cost money. 
  • Start a support group at your church or with like-minded friends. 
  • Do not complain, but, in everything, give thanks, knowing God is going to work this together for your good and His glory. 
  • Do not lose hope! You can become a wise steward.

Thanks for the question. May God give you favor as you seek to serve your friend. 

Another helpful and trusted source is Christian Credit Counselors. They can help consolidate debt and get your friend on the road to financial freedom.

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