Dealing with debt is difficult, and it can be distressing to know that someone you care about is experiencing money worries. The signs aren’t always clear however, and it’s even tougher if that person is trying to keep their debt to themselves.
If you suspect that someone you care about is in debt, keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs…
Panicking whenever a get-together is suggested
Most of us find it tricky to afford social events all the time, especially if your friends are suggesting group holidays, weekends away or expensive meals out. But if your pal is declining invitations they may usually have accepted, or seems to panic at the thought of being able to afford a group outing, it may be a sign that they are experiencing financial difficulties.
A sudden change in behaviour
You may be able to detect more subtle changes in a friend’s behaviour than you realise. Your friend might suddenly become cagey or defensive whenever money is mentioned, or seem bitter or worried about other people’s spending habits. This could indicate stress about their own financial situation. The old adage “keeping up with the Joneses” is true!
If there’s a knock at the door that your friend ignores, or if their phone seems to be constantly ringing but they’re reluctant to answer it, it could be a sign that they’re being pursued by debt collectors or even bailiffs. It’s important that they know what rights they have if this is the case, so it’s worth looking at our previous posts on bailiffs and debt collection companies.
“A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same”
– Elbert Hubbard
Not adapting to a change in circumstances
If someone experiences a big change to their lifestyle (which could be anything from the unexpected job loss to the anticipated birth of a baby) you’d expect their finances to change as a result.
But if your friend is still living the way they were before things changed it could be that they’re burying their head in the sand and ignoring the situation. This is all too common, and though tempting to “splash the cash” it doesn’t help make things better.
It’s important not to make assumptions about your friend’s situation, and also important to remember that you can’t force them to seek advice. However, if they are finding things hard there are ways that you can help.
Keep it cheap and cheerful
Take the pressure off by trying to arrange things to do together that are low cost (or even better, free). Your friend may secretly want to live a bit more frugally but may feel like they need to keep up appearances to make people happy.
If you show them that you too want to save money, they may be more inclined to get smarter with their money. You can turn it into a friendly competition of who can nab the best deal on websites like MoneySavingExpert.com.
Keep the pressure off
You’d be amazed at what little gestures you can make that will mean so much to a friend at the end of their tether. Offering to help out with other areas of their lives that might be adding to the strain can make all the difference.
You could look after the kids for an afternoon to give them some time to themselves, or invite them over for a dinner or a movie night.
You’ve got a friend
As many of us will know, it’s during the tough times in our life when we realise who our true friends really are. Simply being there for your friend and gently reminding them that your friendship is unconditional may help them find the courage to deal with their problems.
If they ask you for your help, you could sit with them while they sort through their paperwork, or be on hand if they want to speak to our helpline or access our online tool, Debt Remedy.