Can someone help me financially

You should keep this in mind if you want to help others financially

Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
Helping someone out financially can be a tricky business. Not only when your own bank balance is low, but also because money is a very emotional thing. Bringing up the issue of money can unbalance the existing dynamics in your relationship (be it collegiate, friendly, or romantic) - even if you have the best of intentions. It can change the nature of the relationship forever and, in the worst case, even cause it to break.
Half a year ago it sometimes seemed the best option not to even address the personal financial situation - in other words: to treat it in a similar way to other controversial topics such as religion or politics. But then Corona came. If someone who is close to you has lost their job in the wake of the pandemic in the past few months or has been sent on short-time work, you can now simply no longer bury your head in the sand. As well as when one of your loved ones has to constantly worry about not being able to pay the next rent. So it may well be that you are currently wondering whether you should offer financial help to the person in question - be it a family member, your roommate, a colleague or a friend.
"COVID makes many think about the people in their lives," said Aditi Shekar, founder of the personal finance app Zeta and an expert on money issues in private relationships. She says that in addition to our loved ones, we should not forget the people who played a major role in our lives before the Corona, such as housekeeping, childminders or dog walkers. In short: everyone who works in the service sector could currently have little or no income. And that's why we mustn't forget her, says Shekar.
However, while money has been an issue from the start in relationships with people like these, there are also relationships in which it just hasn't emerged. And with that in mind, now you may be wondering how best to address it. Even if you know he or she is struggling a lot: Isn't it somehow presumptuous to offer friends money on your own initiative? “When it comes to money, there is always a certain amount of guilt, shame, resentment and fear,” warns Shekar. “Even if you mention it in a conversation with good friends, it can cause uncomfortable feelings on both sides. It can make for a really difficult conversation. ”So think carefully about whether it's a really good idea.
According to Shekar, when you've decided to bring up the topic, there are a few things you should definitely think about beforehand. “Do you want to get the money back someday? Where are you financially? Do you see this as your opportunity to contribute to the livelihood of your friends or family? ”According to the expert, you should definitely ask yourself these and other questions, because the answers can have a great influence on the conversation between you and the Person you want to help is running.
Be honest with yourself and give yourself a lot of thought. Don't just offer amount X because that's the amount you'd like to give wouldonly to find out in retrospect that you can't afford it. Shekar advises whether you are giving the amount as a gift or borrowing it (although the latter is of course not objectionable!), Make sure that your account allows for it.
If you are doing extremely well financially and decide to give someone money, try not to control what the person does with the money. "Otherwise you may encounter her later with contempt or resentment," warns Shekar. It is completely up to him or her whether he or she uses the money to pay for rent, food, or membership in a yoga studio. You cannot assess from the outside what he or she needs most urgently at the moment, so do not give tips, no matter how well meant, how the money should be invested. If your grandmother used to give you 50 euros for drinking coffee, she didn't tell you what you could and couldn't buy with it, did she? "You have to get used to the idea of ​​giving someone money owes she or he you nothing. It's not your place to tell him or her anything. ”It can be difficult not to subconsciously fall into this trap - even if you don't want to be biased, judgmental, or upset at all.
In a 2017 academic paper, researchers Juliana Schroeder, Adam Waytz, and Nicholas Epley found that we give money to individuals less often and prefer to donate to the Tafel or other non-profit organizations because we think we're smarter with the money than the recipient would. But nobody wants to be treated condescendingly. So it would be good if you try not to see your cash injection as charity or donation. See it as a kind of redistribution; as a way of distributing funds to those places where they are needed more urgently. This is not about compassion, but about compassion. So try to have the conversation honestly and empathetically, says Shekar. “I have often observed that the“ donors ”behave a bit presumptuous or conceited. According to the motto: 'Am I not great that I'm doing you a favor ?!' This behavior is difficult for the recipients to deal with. "
Which brings us straight to the next point: Think beforehand about what reaction you are expecting. "It's okay if you want some form of recognition," says Shekar. “To be very clear: Sometimes it's just nice to hear from someone, 'Thank you for doing this for me'.” But how will you feel if the recipient doesn't expressly thank you? Or not in the intensity or in the way that you would like it to be? Could that change anything in your relationship? Can you curb your expectations and help someone without expecting a minute-long (virtual) hug or a tearful outbreak? That sounds like a question that you answer with “Yes, of course!” should. But before you act too quickly, first listen carefully and be really honest with yourself.
Of course there are also people who want to help anonymously or at least in a more inconspicuous way. People who want to make “no big deal” out of the whole thing. "If you live with someone, you could, for example, buy most of the groceries or drugstore items without necessarily hanging it up," says Shekar. If you split up into rent and bills, you could take on a bigger chunk without making it big. Otherwise, Shekar also knows people, for example, who have not given any money, but have ordered certain items online for a friend, or who finance an (Amazon Prime) membership or mobile phone contract, for someone who simply has better resources needs. "We've seen really phenomenal acts of charity (in the last few months)," says Shekar.
But let's go back briefly to the subject of loans. If you can't (or don't want to) afford to give someone money (which, as I said, is completely okay!), You should definitely talk about the conditions in advance. For example, according to Shekar, the conversation can start as follows: “I am in the fortunate financial position to support you and help you, and I would very much like to sit down with you and talk about exactly what that might look like.” Be you but be aware that the person you are offering help to may instinctively refuse it. "As I said before, there is this shame and this feeling of 'I don't want to expect anything'", says the expert and also advises to approach the issue of repayment realistically. “Just always start with double the time,” she says. So if your friend says she wants to pay you back within six months, don't expect it to be available for you for another year. “Just so that you can remain flexible yourself. At the moment everything is so uncertain; after all, if for whatever reason the person has some problems or faces additional challenges in the near future, you don't want to have to say, 'But you said you would pay me back in six months' - just because, for example, you have your own You may not have assessed finances realistically and calculated with the money. "
The circumstances are extraordinarily tough, especially for many. And that is why Shekar also calls for extraordinary actions, more precisely to help others. But before you get started, you should definitely take the time to reflect on yourself. By offering financial help, you can show someone how much he or she means to you, but don't forget about your own financial situation. Also think about whether you want to give or borrow the money - and whether it should be money at all or maybe some other form of material, emotional or temporal support.