If you think someone you care about is going through a difficult time with money, there are ways you can help.
To support a friend with money worries:
Our team of debt experts help thousands of people every week to deal with their debt problems, and get their lives back on track. Free debt help is available online 24/7.
Spot the debt warning signs
Fewer than one in three people will seek help with their debt problems. It often takes a ‘tipping point’ (such as an emergency expense or sudden change in circumstances) before the financial reality finally hits home.
If you suspect that your loved one may be in debt, keep an eye out for these ten ‘red flags’:
- They’ve been in debt in the past. Debt can be very difficult to escape from. One common debt that people struggle with is an overdraft – once you’re in too far, it can be hard to get back out
- They’ve had a recent loss of income. Obvious examples include the coronavirus pandemic, childbirth, being made redundant, illness, divorce or bereavement
- They’re living beyond their means or overspending. They always seem to have the latest ‘must have’ items but not the money to cover this
- They seem anxious, withdrawn or depressed. They’re not as eager to socialise and may even panic if you try to plan a social event that involves spending money
- They may seem more secretive and avoid talking about their finances
- They’ve changed their spending habits, either by reducing spending (going on fewer holidays or eating out less) or overspending (spending without a plan for repayment, such as putting luxury items on credit cards)
- They’ve sold their car and switched to public transport
- They seem tired or are having trouble sleeping
- Unopened bills lying around the house
- They avoid speaking to you or seeing you. This can hurt, but it’s important to understand the shame that comes with being in debt. In fact, people often withdraw when they most need support from others.
Keep talking about debt
Saying “I’m in debt and I don’t know what to do” out loud, even to someone you trust, can be terrifying. Who is your friend most likely to open up to? Is it you or someone else?
Talk to a mutual friend or family member in confidence. You may find this other friend has noticed the same things you have.
Talking about debt can reduce stress, make money worries feel normal and also encourage your friend to get help.
Show them they're not alone
We help thousands of people each week, providing independent and non-judgemental debt advice and support to help them to take back control of their finances. More and more people are facing debt problems these days - they're not alone.
Our real life debt stories, from people who changed their lives, may encourage your friend to ask for help.
Be supportive but look after yourself
It's natural to want to help a friend or loved one, and chances are you’ve probably lent them money now and again. Many clients who get in touch with us have fallen into debt because they sacrificed their own income to help friends or family. It's important to look after your own finances and not lend large sums if it will lead to your own money worries.
If your friend is struggling now, chances are they’ll struggle to pay back a loan on time each month. So if a loved one asks you to be a guarantor on a loan, you could explain that you don’t want debt to ruin your relationship, but that you’re there for them and want to help in other ways.
Worrying about someone can take its toll on your own mental health. Remember to take time to practise some self-care.
Mental Health UK say:
“We recommend practising the five ways to wellbeing:
- Connect with others, such as friends and family. This might be for a quick chat over a cuppa or a long conversation
- Be active – physical activity is great for our mental health and has even been shown to work as well as antidepressants
- Take notice – be more mindful of the world around you and your surroundings. You can find some great mindfulness videos on YouTube
- Keep learning – it’s important to keep your brain stimulated. You could try to pick up a new craft, skill, or have a go at a book of puzzles
- Do something for other people - we all know that feel-good feeling we get when we do something nice for others. Doing something good can boost our own wellbeing"