Thanks to Dave Ramsey, we all know someone paying off debt.
I don’t mean that as a bad thing, regardless of my feelings on Dave. Any step towards financial freedom is a good one in my book.
Maybe you’re the person paying off debt, in which case you’ll probably be nodding your head in agreement as you read this list. I know in our circle of friends we are the debt snowballers, as are a couple of other families, but we’ve also been on the other end of things: trying to encourage another friend or family who just needs a little pick me up during a long and emotional debt payoff journey.
Paying off debt is much like losing weight, in that it’s a touchy subject. Many common responses to debt payoff could be considered offensive, but that doesn’t mean they were meant that way.
If you’re struggling with wanting to encourage a friend, these 12 practical tips for how to help a friend paying off debt:
Give Them A Kind Word – About Anything
Many people are very private about debt and income and therefore may not publicize the fact that they’re struggling to get out of debt. So if you suspect, or you’re in that inner circle of people who actually know, just give them a kind word not related to money. Tell her that her outfit looks great, compliment the kids’ behavior, or anything else you can think of, because sometimes all it takes is one kind word to completely change someone’s day – and paying off debt has a way of getting you down when it gets tough.
Offer To Take The Kids So They Can Have An At-Home Date Night
If your friends have been debt snowballin’ for a while, chances are they’ve been sorely lacking in the date department. If you can, offer to take the kids for an evening so they can have an inexpensive, at-home date night. Or, if you need a date night too, offer to swap date nights with them, or split a babysitter. Everyone wins!
If They Are Public With Their Journey, Make A Point To Drop By Their Blog And Drop An Encouraging Comment
Some people are very private about debt, while other (like yours truly) publish every detail on a blog. If your friend is open to discussing their journey, comment on their Facebook status, drop a note on their blog, or find another way to support them in a way that they’re comfortable with. While it’s kind of scary, it will mean a lot to them that you’re following along and that you’re happy for them.
Or, Send Them a Private Note
Other may not be so public about their journey, so if you’re in that small circle of friends that DOES know that your friend is debt avalanching, find a smaller, less public way to drop them a note of encouragement. Try a facebook message, a text, or even an email or actual handwritten note. Just let them know that you’re thinking about them, and that you think what they’re doing is really admirable (even if you don’t really think that, just suck it up and be supportive!).
Ask Them How Much They’ve Paid Off
Again this one only works if they’re open to discussing their journey. If they are, think of it like losing weight, and ask them how much they’ve paid off, or how far through the journey they are. That way, you don’t have to discuss certain numbers, but rather time-frames or percentages. Leave the question open so they can brag about their accomplishments, but in whatever form they’re comfortable with.
Ask Them How They’re Feeling
Debt payoff, especially a long journey, has a way of making a person emotional. Years of deprivation, cooking from home, lost date nights, and whatever other sacrifices they’ve made to make their lives better in the long run has a way of wearing on a person both emotionally and physically. If you’re know they’re in the thick of it, simply ask them about how their feeling and actively listen to their answer. Talk therapy is free and an extremely effective way to lift someone up.
Put Together a Care Package
Nope, not money or gift cards. Put together a simple care package to let the friend know you’re thinking about them. It could be warm socks and hot chocolate during the thick of winter, or squirt guns for the kids during the summer. Don’t spend a lot of money, but rather put a good deal of thought into what they would honestly appreciate and would make them feel better.
Have Extra Produce? Offer It To Them.
The cardinal rule (see below) of encouraging someone paying off debt is NOT to offer them money, but if you have extra produce from your garden, it’s perfectly ok to offer it to them. It’s not an act of pity, you’re simply preventing good produce from going bad.
When They Offer To Host Game Night, Say “Yes”
You may not know 100% for certain that your friends are Dave Ramsey devotees, but if they offer to host a game night, movie night, or other low-cost night out. When that happens, assuming you don’t have a legitimate conflict, please say yes – enthusiastically! It may not be your first choice for a night of fun, but please make an effort, because it was most likely very hard for this family to even ask.
Try A Random Act of Kindness
Think of a non-monetary way you can help a friend who is paying off debt through a random act of kindness – anonymous or otherwise. There are so many ways that you can help without being offensive. Just like with the care package, it’s less about money and more about putting a lot of thought into what this particular friend could benefit from, and then giving of your time.
Don’t Pressure Them To Go Out To Dinner/Date Night/Movie
We get it, you’ve been better with your money (or just haven’t discovered the beauty that is debt freedom yet) but please don’t try and convince a friend who’s on a long debt payoff journey to do anything expensive with you. If they can afford it, I’m sure they’ll jump at the opportunity, and if they can’t, they’ll politely decline. Don’t make them feel bad for correcting prior mistakes.
Don’t Offer Them Money
Lastly, I’m going to state the obvious: don’t offer them money. That’s just demeaning and mean. Your intentions might be completely genuine, but trust me, they won’t be received that way.
Paying off debt is HARD. I’ve been there, I’m still there, and I’ve had friends that were there, so trust me, they NEED your support.
Here are more helpful resources for debt payoff and financial freedom:
- How We Paid Off $24,000 in 2015 (on a $30,000 Salary)
- The Truth About Living Within Your Means
- An Open Letter To All Of You Who Struggle (With Debt)
- How We Ditched Our Budget & Started Communicating
- 8 Tips For A Financially Fit 2016
- Holiday Credit Card Debt? 6 Tips To Get Back on Track
- 6 Things You Should NEVER Say To Someone Paying Off Debt
What are your favorite ways to encourage a friend where debt is concerned? Share you favorites in the comments!
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