People often feel very alone when they have money problems. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Asking for help and support is a powerful way to cope with financial stress.
Money is a personal and private matter. We don’t like other people to know about our finances, which is as it should be. However, it is possible to get financial help without losing your privacy, and getting support from others can make all the difference when you feel stuck in money problems.
Here are a few ideas for getting, and giving, financial support – without any cash changing hands.
Sharing is caring
Find people to share specific expenses with, for example:
• Netflix and Apple subscriptions can be shared with family members and/or friends.
• Bulk discounts on groceries, cleaning materials or toiletries.
• Buy fresh fruit and vegetables with another household if there is a risk that you can’t use the produce before it goes off.
Involve the family
Your personal budget is a private matter, but the household’s expenses are not. You might be the parent and breadwinner, but how the household budget is spent, impacts everyone in your house. Regular family money meetings are therefore necessary, and a good way to prevent conflict about money.
Agenda items for your family money meetings can include:
• Planning for a holiday or a birthday party, or next week’s meals and grocery list.
• Ask your children what they think about money, and how they see your family’s financial situation. Invite them to ask questions and share their experiences.
• Your household’s financial goals and dreams. For instance, a new family car, or tertiary education for all the children.
• Financial concepts, such as saving, debt, responsible lending and whether or not one should lend money to friends or family members. Financial literacy is in very short supply all over the world, and should start at home.
• The family/household budget. You really want every member of your household to understand how much money comes into the household purse and how it is spent. The idea is to help everyone understand that how you spend money is a choice.
Get a money buddy
Money can feel like hard work, especially when you want to change your financial habits. During these times, a money buddy can be a great help. Ask a friend or family member who you trust and who has healthy money habits to help you with things such as:
• Better budgeting. The two of you can get together once a month to reconcile the past month’s expenses with what your budgeted and, based on that information, do your planning for the next month. After two or three such session you should be able to budget on your own.
• Financial planning. It can be very helpful to discuss your goals and dreams with a trusted friend who can help you translate them into money habits. For example, how to save for your children’s tertiary education.
• Spending sanity check. If you are prone to impulse shopping, agree with your money buddy that you can call him or her when you feel tempted to buy something that’s not in your budget. A brief conversation that reminds you of your goals might be all you need to get back on track.
• Peer pressure. If one person in your circle of friends understands that you can’t afford to go out every weekend, he or she can help you to say no, or back you up when you suggest activities that cost less.
• Saving. You and your money buddy can save together for a specific goal. For instance, if you both want to go on holiday at the end of next year, open a joint savings account. You will hold each other accountable to keep saving, and you will both benefit from the interest you earn on the bigger amount.
• Financial literacy. Go with each other to money talks and events, share books and articles that improve your financial literacy, and make learning about money fun.
Getting better at managing your finances doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. When you enlist other people’s help and support, the road to financial wellness can be fun, rewarding and inspirational.Go back