I can think of so many times in the past couple of months where people have asked me what I do for a job and where I work. I always give the same spcheel…I work for LSS Financial Counseling and we give people the tools they need to get out of debt. We also help people rebuild after banktruptcy and even save their homes. I would say 9 times out of 10 I get the same response from people…”I wish my friend/mom/sister/uncle should call you!” And I always tell them it’s a really tough challenge to talk to someone about sensitive financial stuff but go for it if they feel comfortable.
Why is it so hard to convince people to get help?
First, it’s hard to convince people to do anything! (I have a 2 year old that does the exact opposite of what I want him to do…ALWAYS!) Then, add in icky subjects like debt and you could be looking at a downright awkward conversation. Many people have mixed feelings about the idea of getting help with their finances. Often they are embarrased and feel defeated, overwhelmed, lost, etc. One common coping method is avoidance. It may seem safer to avoid making changes and work to convince themselves that everything is okay. But that is exhausting. Each time I have had money issues I remember avoiding my online banking like it was the plague. I just didn’t want to know.
And often people want to try and fix their financial issues themselves, but deep down they feel hopeless about their ability to change. They don’t know who to call and what is a safe resource.
Another reason is fear. They are scared of making a change. What if it gets worse? And they are scared to see how bad their financial situation really is. It’s easy to not open the bills or answer the phone when someone calls from an 888 number. But it will catch up to you/them.
I also know that people are embarrassed to ask for help with their financial situations. There is a stigma attached to financial counseling and there really shouldn’t be. I think about myself and I would be more embarrassed about hiding my debt than dealing with it.
What’s the best way to let people know about financial counseling?
I think the best way to talk to someone about a touch subject is to have compassion and empathy. I don’t know anybody in my life that can’t relate to financial struggles. By relating to their situation you are showing them that this can happen to anyone. Here are a few tips:
- If you are uncomfortable with the idea of bringing up the subject, email them a link to a blog post or website that discusses credit counseling. (Like ours!)
- Tell them about your situation or the situation of a ‘friend.’ Let them know that they felt such relief just by taking the first step and contacting an agency like LSS.
- Take baby steps….share a blog post about finances. Then tell them about a ‘friend’ who was helped. Or share a testimonial.
- Encourage them to create a budget and track their spending. The simple act of writing down everything you spend can create a clear picture of what’s really happening.
- Be positive, supportive and patient.
Remember that this is a tough situation and the person you are worried about is uncomfortable too. The key is to be helpful and respectful.
Have a friend that could use our services? Have them call 888.577.2227 to schedule an appointment or share some of our many resources with them. Visit ConquerYourDebt.org or send them a link to our blog, Sense and Centsibility.
Author Kate Swenson is a Project Manager at LSS Financial Counseling.