We regularly hear from people who have recently found out their friend or family member is in debt. At Debt Support Trust, we don't only assist people with money issues, but friends and family who are worried about their loved ones. For most people, being in debt or knowing someone in debt is a difficult process; you have limited knowledge of the options available, it can be frightening and you may be unsure of the solutions which can help.
It's important to remember that there are debt solutions available and options which can help alleviate money worries. Whether the debt is an unexpected bill or multiple debts accrued over a longer period of time, there are solutions which can be explored. Together, we'll help you understand the pros and cons of each solution so that you or a friend/ family member can receive the information you need.
While many people still believe debt problems only occur because of frivolous spending, it's not the case and in many instances the debt has arisen because of a change in circumstances. For instance, a reduction of income because of a new job/ loss of hours at work, separation / divorce or the cost of living increasing resulting in an over-reliance on credit.
If you would like to speak to a debt advisor from Debt Support Trust, please call 0800 085 0226. Any conversation is confidential and we will not contact your friend or family member without their permission. We can offer you guidance and support to be able to best help a person struggling with debt.
Top Tips to Help People In Debt
There are a number of things you can do to help a person in debt. We've listed our top tips below:
- Supportive - The first tip we can offer is to offer support. It may have come as a shock to you and you may initially panic and worry, however by being supportive you're encouraging a person in debt to take the necessary action to become debt free. Remember, your friend or family member will have been dealing with this debt for some time before you found out, so they may simply just need somebody to listen and reassure them. Support them in taking steps to regain control of their finances.
- Positive - Reassurance is important for anyone in debt. Positivity breeds positivity so by saying "It's OK, there will be options" or "don't worry, we can get this sorted" you're offering positive reassurance that things will improve. That often gives a person the courage to speak to a debt advice charity and seek help.
- Be Helpful - Offering emotional support is important but factual information can be useful too. Why not sit down and help complete a statement of affairs? We can help you with this. You want to list the monthly income, expenditure, amount of debt and monthly contractual repayments as well as finding out if there are any assets. This will help clarify the financial position for the person in debt and help them to see ways they could save money or whether they need debt advice from a registered charity.
- A Problem Shared - Many people struggle to tell anyone about their debt problem, never mind their family or friends. Often when people call the Debt Support Trust charity helpline the feelings of guilt, anxiety and overwhelming pressure are evident. Through years of experience we know that anybody could find themselves in debt and that what's most important is supporting and empowering a person with money worries to be able to take back financial control. Understanding the journey a person in debt has taken to tell you about their financial situation is vital to being able to support them.
- Guidance - Offering guidance can be invaluable to a person worrying about debt. For instance, you could agree to meet them to open their mail and collate creditor statements, gather necessary information about the debts and even be there to help them whilst speaking to a debt advice charity. People in debt can sometimes feel alone - by offering guidance and clarity you're helping them take positive steps to resolve the debt.
Try To Avoid
We've created a list of things you should try and avoid. These are often difficult because a debt problem can come as a shock, which you may be trying to process yourself. However, if possible, it's best not to:
- Criticise - we often hear from parents, siblings and friends who are worried about someone in debt, where they'll say a phrase such as "I don't know how they could be so stupid". While it's not uncommon to think debt arises from overspending, it's not always the case and it's typically a problem which will have occurred over a number of years.
- Ignore the problem - encouraging someone to deal with their debt will ensure they're taking steps to be debt free. By continuing to ignore the problem, it will make the issue harder for your friend or family member to take the steps they need to make to get the debt under control.
- Take too much control - from time to time we speak to people who want to over-manage a person who has debt problems. This can include taking control of their bank account and liaising with creditors on their behalf. While this can be helpful at the initial stage, it's important to empower a person with debt worries to take control themselves. Try to act as a support but not take overall control to resolve the problem.
A Little Extra Support
Debt and money problems can occur for anybody - whether it's a celebrity worth £20 million or a retired pensioner who is struggling to pay an energy debt. The reason for debt is always the same; there isn't enough money to pay the necessary expenditure and cover the repayments to debts from the income available.
However, you can be a positive support to a person in debt. If they've trusted you to tell you about their money worries, we're here to help too. You can call us on 0800 085 0226 if you would like some advice or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.