Once in a while, someone might come to you with a problem that they just don’t know how to resolve on their own, or they are feeling so weighed down with stress and worry. As a friend or family member, it can feel like quite a lot of pressure saying the right things or knowing what to do. This is especially true when the problem is a financial one, and the word ‘debt’ is used.
There is no need to panic though, as you might help the situation just by taking the time to listen to what they have to say. Of course, it is helpful if you have a couple of other tips or suggestions for them too. Most of these come back to seeking ‘proper’ advice, but more about that later. So if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here is what you could do:
If the debt problem is minor, and they are simply concerned about forgetting to make all of their payments on time and so on, it might make sense to bring up the topic of debt consolidation. This is something that people with multiple credit agreements can find helpful as it allows them to pay just one creditor instead of keeping on top of all of them. On their website, Zopa question whether people are paying more than 16 percent interest to credit card companies. This is because a low rate loan from Zopa could allow them to pay less interest through debt consolidation. Debt consolidation loans do require that applicants have a good credit history, so it may not be for everyone. It is especially important to be able to demonstrate a good track record for keeping up with monthly bills. If repayments are a difficulty, you can suggest speaking to creditors directly to arrange a payment schedule to help clear the debts.
Refer them to a place that can help
When debt problems are more severe, it might be the case that you are out of your depth and have no further suggestions on specific things they can do. It is important to not feel as though you are letting them down as you know that you would help if you could. What you can advise them to do is to speak with someone or do some research online that could give them the knowledge they need to tackle the problem. In the United Kingdom, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Money Advice Service are common places to seek help from, and there is also information online at gov.uk. Whilst you can only suggest that someone gets advice from elsewhere, you should not feel responsible if they do not.
Continue to ‘be there’
Once someone tells you something in confidence, there is a good chance that they will want to speak to you about it again in the future. Even if you feel that you are not a whole lot of help on the subject, you could be playing your own part just by being there for them. Whether it is just to reassure them, or being a shoulder to cry on, sometimes there is not much more that you can do. Yet for some people, this is much better than them being left on their own carrying a massive burden.