Financial stress can feel all encompassing. We need money for food, water, shelter and safety. Not feeling like we have enough to cover these basic needs makes us feel like we are always in crisis.
Though it might not feel like there’s not much you can do for a friend in this situation, being there for them to vent or express their worries can be a source of comfort and support.
What it feels like
It can feel like constant stress and worry that is impossible to overcome. A person may feel constantly on edge, overwhelmed, difficult to sleep or eat without worry. They may feel irritable and fatigued, or withdraw from friends, family and hobbies.
What you can do to support in the first 24-48 hours:
Check in on their situation regarding: Access to food, water, shelter and emergency savings
Provide emotional support / be there / listen / offer practical help if needed
Offer to help review their expenses, make a budget, find out where they can get help
Make a time to follow up
Financial worries can flow on to affect every part of our lives. In addition to this there are many practical matters that need to be attended to so issues don’t continue.
Let them know you care
Let them talk through their emotions
Talk through their worries, concerns and plans for the future
Let them know the ways you are able to support them (emotional, practical, financial)
Encourage them when they are attempting to move forwards (applying for financial help, applying for jobs)
Encourage them to keep up regular social events and hobbies where financially possible
Assist them to work out ways to ease financial stress in the short term – review their outgoings together and think about what are the needs vs wants in their day to day life and what
Offer to cook a meal, or invite them over for dinner once a week to take the pressure off as well as ease their spending and distract them
1 Week on what now?
It can feel like constant stress and worry that is impossible to overcome. A person may feel constantly on edge, overwhelmed, difficult to sleep or eat without worry. They may feel irritable and fatigued, or withdraw from friends, family and hobbies. This worry may ebb and flow over time, depending upon bills, other life events and circumstances. If they have children they may also feel guilty and inadequate that they can't provide for or spoil them.
Providing support in the long term
Keep providing ongoing emotional support
Be there when they experience difficulties to listen
Maintain your social connection and plan some activities that don’t impact their budget
Offer to be a spending accountability partner - help them to identify a savings goal and check in with them and challenge them to achieve it
Offer to help with finding ways to ease their financial stress – this might be finding government support, a No interest loan or changing health insurance plans
Provide help with day to day tasks such as cooking, cleaning or childcare to reduce the mental load and ease spending
Support them to set up a new budget and get advice about their finances, mortgage, debts and repayments
Encourage them to take up free/low-cost hobbies, projects and interests so they get some distraction from their stresses
Accompanying them to appointments for professional help – counselling, financial advice