Debt is daunting for many reasons, especially the mental and emotional strain it can put on people. People carrying debt may even try to hide this fact from the rest of the world by continuing to spend beyond their means to keep up appearances. Put plainly: It’s hard to talk about debt.
While you can never get out of debt for someone, you can encourage your friends and family members to get out of debt for the sake of their own financial and overall well-being. By letting people know they don’t have to do it alone-and by helping them with some of the legwork-you can make your loved ones’ odds of eliminating debt that much higher. Here are a few tips for doing so.
Start the Conversation
Sometimes it seems like starting an honest conversation with a loved one about money is half the battle. Despite the fact that it’s so common to carry debt nowadays, it’s often considered a taboo subject in social interactions. One survey found that 85 percent of respondents “were hesitant to talk about their credit card debt.”
This reluctance to discuss debt may stem from shame, denial or another negative emotion. But it tends to be a problematic phenomenon because it can perpetuate more debt-people may spend above their means in an attempt to “portray a debt-free image” to family and friends.
The first step in assisting a loved one in getting out of debt is to start the conversation in a compassionate way. Acknowledge the difficulty of opening up about money issues. Remind the person that you want to act out of their best interest rather than trying to guilt trip or force them into action. If you’ve experienced similar struggles, be transparent about your own journey. Remember, you don’t want this conversation to veer into intervention territory, as this may cause the person to clam up and disengage.
The hope is that this first conversation will help you lay the groundwork for future honesty. Reassure your family member or friend that you’ll be available for moral support, motivation and guidance throughout the journey. They should leave the conversation feeling empowered rather than patronized or pitied.
Explore Concrete Debt Relief Options
Oftentimes the first hurdle to people taking action is simply feeling overwhelmed. By researching some options and evaluating them alongside your loved one, you can be the catalyst for change. Go into your conversation with a rough idea of the options available, including the pros and cons of each.
For example, if your loved one is carrying more than $7,500 in credit card debt, you may consider debt settlement through an agency like Freedom Debt Relief. The primary advantage of this option is the possibility of lowering the principal amount owed through negotiations with creditors. Of course, this option isn’t for everybody. So do your own research regarding debt relief services and Freedom Debt Relief reviews online.
If you believe your family member or friend is in a position to pay off their debts on their own by modifying their lifestyle, you could present a mock budget demonstrating the savings they’ll accumulate from changing their behavior. For example, you could suggest meal prepping instead of eating out. This strategy saved one Buzzfeed employee $300 in just two weeks. They can then apply these savings to strategically paying down their debts, either by targeting those with high interest rates or working from the smallest to the largest.
Talking friends and family into getting out of debt is no easy feat, but it can be very effective if you approach it from an angle of genuine care and concern.