Emotionally supporting a loved one who is struggling financially

When one's financial situation becomes overwhelming, maintaining a strong support system is critical. However, supporting a loved one who is wrestling with debt is not always an easy task. Should you employ tough love or offer assistance? Should you avoid discussing the situation or help that person navigate practical approaches to debt relief? These are common and understandable questions for anyone in this situation to entertain.

Each individual financial situation is unique. And therefore supporting someone who is struggling is ultimately a unique process. However, following a few general tips can help you to remain a solid support system for your loved one while maintaining a healthy distance from entangling yourself in the situation itself.

First, lecturing the individual about their past spending habits is generally a bad idea. The debt that your loved one has is already money long-since spent. As a result, it is not helpful to chastise that person for spending in the first place. It is far more helpful to seek solutions that will help that individual free him or herself from debt and avoid similar spending habits in the future.

Second, it is generally unwise to avoid talking about the subject of your loved one's crushing financial situation. Confronting the issue does not mean that you are obligated to help them in any way. But when a loved one is struggling, knowing that you will listen and offer what emotional support you can is often more helpful than you might suspect.

Finally, if you feel that you are able, helping your loved one to access various resources and expert advice in order to navigate the situation is possibly the best thing you can do. By guiding them to speak with an attorney, access trusted books and websites on debt relief and providing other avenues of hope, you may ultimately aid your loved one in remaining on his or her feet for good.

Source: Fox Business, "Seven Things not to say to Someone in a Financial Crisis," Erica Sandberg, Mar. 8, 2013

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