Helping a friend or family member in financial hardship
Being there for others in the best
way you can
If you want to support a friend or family member who is having a
tough time, here are some tips about what to do, and services that
may be able to help.
Talking about money
Money can be a very sensitive and personal issue for many
people. It's important to remain unbiased and non-judgmental so the
other person feels comfortable to open up to you about their money
problems. Here are some tips:
- Only ask them about relevant information that you need to know
in order to work out how to help them. Avoid prying into personal
details that are irrelevant.
- Put yourself in their shoes and show compassion for the
situation they're in.
- Accept the person for who they are and don't try to change
- Let them know there is support available for them.
Work on a budget together
If you feel comfortable, ask them to bring you copies of their
financial documents such as pay slips, any Centrelink statements
and bills so you can go through them together and get a clear idea
of their income and outgoings. The easiest way to get an idea of
their financial situation is by helping them do a
Find the right support
It can be confusing and stressful to work out where to go when
you need help. The greatest help you may give your friend or family
member is helping them find the right support.
- See urgent money help if they need
immediate help with living expenses such as rent or bills or to buy
- See no or low interest loans, if
they need help to pay for essential household items such as
fridges, washing machines or to fix a car
- See trouble with debt, if they are having
problems managing debts or dealing with debt collectors
- Use Centrelink's payment finder to see
if they are entitled to any government assistance.
Financial counselling is an
independent service offered by community organisations, community
legal centres and some government agencies. Financial counsellors
help people in financial difficulty. They provide information,
support and advocacy for people with immediate financial problems
and minimize the risk of future problems. Their services are
Think carefully before lending
money to friends and family
It can be really hard to refuse a friend or family member when
they ask for financial help. But it's important to ensure that
helping them won't put you in a difficult financial position. You
also don't want to risk losing a good friend or falling out with a
family member because of money.
Before lending money consider the following:
Can you afford it?
Check your budget to see if you can afford to lend them the
money and factor in the chance that they won't pay you back in
Can they afford to pay you back?
Don't be afraid to ask them how they intend to pay you back and
agree a time period.
What will you do if they don't pay you back?
While it is a sensitive topic, ask them upfront before you lend
them money what will happen if they don't pay you back on time.
Make sure you are comfortable with their response and seriously
consider how not getting the money back will affect your
Get it in writing
While it may seem overly formal, it is wise to write down any
agreement. Include the amount of money borrowed and the agreed
timeframe for them to pay it back.
Are there other ways you can help?
It's ok for you to say no to a friend or family member who asks
to borrow money. There may be other ways you can help out:
- offer to babysit their children or help cook or clean so they
can attend work or meetings
- lend them tools, appliances or even your car so they can save
money by not having to buy them
- suggest they see a free and independent financial
Take care of yourself
Providing support for someone in financial difficulty can be
difficult and emotional. Make sure you set clear boundaries about
how involved you get in another person's life. It's important to
seek support and comfort for yourself as well.
If a friend or family member is having
problems with money it's natural to want to do what you can to help
them. Talk to them about the issue and find out what services and
support are available.
Last updated: 24 Feb 2015