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:
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:
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:
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:
Some talking points I might use:
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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