Helping a Friend Financially Without Using Your Own Money

person holding U.S. dollar banknote

If it hasn’t happened to you, it will: a friend or family member is going to hit you up for money. And while you more than likely want to help out, you don’t want to run the risk of hurting yourself — or the relationship. The good news is that there are several ways you can be of assistance that don’t include your cash.

Offer Counsel

There are times when the only reason we think a problem we have is catastrophic is because we’re the ones in it. Looking from the outside, close friends and family know better. That’s because nearly everyone has been in your type of shoes at one time or another. Empathize with them, focusing on how you survived your own situation. That helps to steady the other person and let them know they’re not alone. Something as simple as providing advice, when sought, can set a person on a path toward a solution. Besides, you don’t want to get someone hooked on “easy” money.

Offer to Review Their Financial Situation

If the person is amenable, and particularly if you’re good at it, you can offer to go over their income and expenses. Perhaps they’re in over their head because they aren’t organized or don’t know a way that works for them to keep track of what they spend. Sometimes people just need someone else to help them see where they’re getting in trouble. While you could just fork over some cash – and maybe that’s best in some cases – know that the issue could recur if root problems aren’t addressed.

Offer to Help Them Establish a Budget

Especially if they’ve permitted you a look at their finances, it might be a good idea to see if they’d be open to helping you make a budget, a realistic one that they can stick to. Not everyone is good at keeping tabs on what’s incoming and outgoing and knowing how much they have available to spend on themselves each month. Perhaps you have a budget that works for you. Discuss with them where they can cut back a bit, say on those daily froufrou coffees, and share any tricks you use to save money on essentials.

Help Them Find Ways to Make Extra Cash

Unless the money issue is urgent — in which case, if they own a car, a title loan can provide quick cash – you could help them figure out ways to bring in more funds. Maybe they have a hobby they can monetize, or you know of a part-time job they can pick up. In this “gig” economy, there are lots of ways to make extra money, including babysitting, dog walking, and delivering meals. A lot of services can be provided remotely, over the Internet.

Lend Them an Ear

An ear to listen and a shoulder to rest on can be incredibly timely, helpful – and invaluable. The last thing you should do is disappear just because giving cash doesn’t work for you right now. Sometimes people just need someone to sit by them and listen to them, and maybe even offer a bit of advice. Again, most of them have been up against it financially at some point. When you know someone is there to support you, it’s much easier to navigate through what can be a very stressful situation.

Most people have been in a tight spot before, so they know what it’s like. I’m sure you’d like to see your friend out of theirs. But giving money isn’t always possible, nor is it always best. There are other ways to help out that will keep your finances and relationships intact.