Tips For Helping Someone Else Financially (When You’re On A Tight Budget)

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When we see our loved ones living in financial uncertainty, it can be tough. But money problems don’t have to be solved with your money. Here’s how to help!

A blue post-it on a tack board with a hand and pen writing You Are Not Alone and another picture of two hands reaching out to each other at dusk

How To Help A Friend Struggling Financially

It can be really tough watching those around you struggle financially. In this age of natural and unnatural disasters, it is an issue that will likely exist indefinitely. In addition to this, most of us have people in our lives who we love, but who maybe don’t make the best financial decisions.

While most of us can absolutely relate to having the desire to help someone who is in need, we don’t always have the funds to be able to help in that way. That said, there are lots of good ways for helping others without going broke yourself. Here are some tips for helping someone else financially even when you’re on a tight budget.

Provide the Manual Labor

If you have a good friend or family member that has just been through a natural disaster, death in the family, are looking to sell a house, or any other difficult time where there is physically more than they can handle, offer to pitch in with the cleanup.

Providing your time is often more of a generous contribution than money, so do what you can to volunteer to help on your days off from work or after school. Help to go through water-damaged items or take smoke-scented loads of laundry home with you to wash. Offer to help donate no-longer-needed items to shelters or do some of the physical tasks that you see they can use help with. Do the yard work or any other physical activity that you can see needs to be done. Having a friend’s back in this way will likely mean more than handing over your own money.

Give Them Resources

You don’t have to be the one to dispense the money when someone is having financial problems. Instead, help them hunt down resources in order to get help somewhere else. Whether it is links/phone numbers to a food pantry, a job search, counseling, financial assistance, or local resources, give them information to help themselves. It’s a great place to start.

Helping someone with money problems doesn’t mean doing it for them. The best way to help someone through financial hardship is to be there while they figure out how to make their own ends meet. You can provide emotional support and guidance during their tough time, but allow them to complete the next steps themselves. The best thing you can do is help to boost their confidence in this way. 

Donate Plasma with Them

Did you know that you can get paid around $300 per month for donating plasma? (This may be more or less depending on both area and current industry plasma needs). That is a significant amount of money when you’re having financial struggles.

Offer to donate plasma with the person in need – so they aren’t alone – and you both make money with your generosity. Providing help for someone else when you are having a hard time is a good way to boost your mood and your attitude. Simple acts can mean a lot in the long run. 

Do a Google search for where to donate plasma in your area to find the most convenient locations for you.

Pay Bills Directly

It is never a good idea to give someone cash – no matter how much you may love a close friend or family member – because you truly don’t know what it will be used for. Many times, financial trouble occurs because the person wasn’t wise with their money in the first place.

Don’t put them in a position to be irresponsible with a cash gift. That can bring about all kinds of difficult conversations and frustrations that you never meant to be a part of. 

If you’d like to provide some financial help, pay their utility bills directly, make a payment on their credit card or medical bills, put gas in their car (don’t buy them a gas card – these often get cashed), or buy what they might need at the grocery store. This allows you to protect yourself by knowing exactly where your money is going, while still helping out here and there.

Help Them Make a Budget

The key to taking control of your finances is making a budget and sticking to it. One of the many reasons people have financial difficulties is because they lack the skills to save, plan, and be patient.

Sit down and help them list out everything they spend money on – from medical expenses down to coffee from Starbucks. Then bring in the amount of money they earn every month. Work through the necessary steps that need to be taken to get through the financial crisis. 

Teaching your loved one how to budget their money is a huge first step towards financial independence. And you can read more about budget mistakes to avoid to help keep you both on the right track.  

Pay Them for Work

Do you have housework that needs to be done? Does your yard need to be mowed or does your storage shed need repainting? Instead of paying contractors to do the work, pay someone in financial need. This helps build work ethic, but it also gives you the chance to help them with financial support.

If you plan to do this, be sure to write out a contract. On any piece of paper, write down what you expect to be done, what materials you will be providing, and how much the job is to be paid. Make sure that it is signed by both of you and that you each have a copy.

You don’t want to ruin a friendship over these kinds of financial issues. If the job is worth $200 to you, be sure to agree on the price in writing so that no one is unsure. 

Consider Combining Plans (But Consider Carefully)

If you thoroughly trust the person you are helping, you could consider combining family plans (such as cell phone bills) to get a better deal. Many cellular companies offer better deals for two households with multiple lines than they do for one person. 

*A word of caution* – be sure that this is someone you can really, truly trust. If your friend has a history of not paying bills in the past, this could affect your plan and your credit as well as your friendship. Don’t add any money worries to your life if you have the least bit of doubt. 

Give Them Time

Sometimes all someone needs to get their own finances in order is a little time. If you don’t have other commitments, offer to babysit or walk the dog as you can. Don’t let people take advantage of your personal relationships with them, but if you can see that their current situation could be greatly improved by having someone lend a helping hand around the house, see what you can offer. 

If your best friend has started a new job or picked up a side job, consider helping them with their childcare for those first two weeks so that they can get organized. 

Ask for Donations

In some situations, there is a legitimate need where a person has fallen on hard times without being at fault. Between hurricanes, tornadoes, and forest fires, most of us know someone in a situation just like this. In addition, if a loved one dies, a child gets sick, or a company closes its doors, you may feel your heart being torn even more.

Instead of depleting what few financial resources you may have, ask for donations to help. If many people offer $5, it goes a lot further than a one-time contribution from you. Consider anything from a GoFundMe page to a bowling party fundraiser. 

Just Say No

Sometimes tough love is what will help a person most. The fact that they always get bailed out of a financial situation (if you see a pattern) is only enabling them. When it comes down to it, saying no may be the best and only way you can help a person.

This doesn’t mean that you have to abandon a person in need. If they need an accountability partner or to talk about their financial stress, decide if that’s something you can provide for them. But when it comes to personal loans, gift cards, or taking care of their unpaid debt, it is time to help them see that they are capable of managing their own life by saying no. 

If you need a little emotional backup, my series on empowerment will hopefully help. 

Just Be There

Whether someone has just been through a natural disaster or a personal one, what they often need more than anything is a shoulder to lean on. Offer to have them over for breakfast, come by for a chat, or just be available by text whenever they need. Not everyone wants to talk about their issues on a regular basis, but knowing that you are there if they need you can be gesture enough.

Helping someone financially doesn’t have to drain you financially. The bottom line is that you care, not that you have money to solve any problems. Show your love and support without putting your own family at risk – there really are ways.

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