How to Ask for (Financial) Help

Asking for financial assistance from anyone, let alone from friends or family, is never an easy task—especially when a little something called pride gets in the way of asking for help.

Pride is that inner voice that tells us “you can deal with this yourself”. It’s fuelled by the fear of judgement, sense of defeat, or weakness, but by letting our pride take over, we can potentially cause more harm than good to our mental and emotional well-being.

If you think you’re the one of the few people struggling with debt, think again. According to a recent report by Statistics Canada, “for every dollar of household disposable income there was $1.68 in credit market debt” (Globe and Mail, 2017). That means that Canadians owe more debt than what they make, and it’s at a record high since the last quarter. Everyone needs help every now and then—and we must remind ourselves that it’s okay to ask for help in times of need.

While we recognize that every situation and type of debt owed is different for everyone, here are few suggestions on how you can make asking for financial help a little less awkward:

1. Crunch out those numbers

Evaluate your current financial situation, and determine exactly how much you’re asking for. Start by understanding your regular expenses, how much debt you owe, and how much income is coming in.

If your day to day living expenses and credit score are jeopardized by accumulating interest charges, calculate exactly how much will help get you out of your current financial rut. When asking for help from a friend or family member that you trust, it’s important to not ask for more than you need.

2. Come prepared

After calculating exactly how much you need, come prepared with your financial statements and records to show your friend or family member that you are serious about paying them back. Lay out the amount you owe, your regular expense activity to show your spending habits, and a repayment schedule that you can both agree on. Being transparent and honest about your financial situation is a great start to show why you’re asking for help in the first place.

3. Put it on paper

As formal as it may seem, having everything on paper will prevent any misunderstandings or awkward conversations when it comes to lending or borrowing money. Set a date on when the funds will be returned to the lender, and review all the information together. The last thing you want is to damage a relationship based on money when it can be prevented by having simple contract to show your appreciation and gratitude for their help.

4. Be prepared if you get a “no”

While asking for financial assistance can be quite emotional, don’t expect the first person you ask to say “yes” right away—even if they want to. It is important to remember to never pressure them if they say “no”, or be impatient with them if they need some time to decide. Even if their final answer is “no”, do not be bitter towards them, and thank them for their support for just lending an ear.

It’s also important to remember that asking for help doesn’t always have to involve money. Is there an opportunity for you to receive financial counselling from your friend or relative, or even someone that they can recommend? Can they refer you to some opportunities to start a side hustle? The more open you are about accepting help (in any form) from those who care about your well-being, the less isolating the journey towards debt repayment may seem.

We hope this helps reassure you that you are not alone when it comes to repaying debt, and encourages you to reach out to your support network (or our team here at Koho) if you need help with your debt repayment journey.