How to Give Financial Advice When You Weren’t Asked for It

As you become more financially savvy, you’re more likely to notice friends and family who aren’t. How do you help guide them towards financial stability, even if you aren’t asked? You don’t want to be pushy, but you want them to be financially secure.

When is it okay to share advice, and when is it better that you keep your mouth shut? How much advice is too much? And is it okay to share when they did not ask for your opinion?

These questions are tough to give a generic answer to, but are certainly things that must be discussed. Although there isn’t an answer that will always work, there are some general guidelines that will help you know how to approach the tough subject with your loved ones.

When and What to Say

Here are some tips for deciphering what to say and when to say it.

Start small. If the subject of money comes up, approach it cautiously.
For example, let’s say your friend mentions that they are spending twice their budget in groceries each month. Rather than dropping a big explosive bomb like “You need major help with your finances,” start small. Say “Sticking to a budget is rough. Would you like me to send over my weekly grocery allotments? I originally developed it from my mom’s budget. Maybe it would help you tweak your own.”

Always be kind. If you want your advice to be heard, give it gently and out of love.
You’ll catch more flies with honey, remember? Harsh advice will not be welcomed. Beware of sounding judgmental, and imagine how your words will make them feel.

Choose your words wisely.
It’s very easy to mean one thing but “say” another, and that’s a good way to offend someone you care about. The way that we phrase sentences can do a great deal of damage when giving advice. Do not patronize or embarrass your loved one. Be more cautious than usual with the words that you speak, and your body language, while approaching this touchy subject.

A kind demeanor with reassuring words will encourage change rather than cause fights. Say “I know you work long hours and don’t feel like cooking when you get home from work. I don’t blame you. Since eating out is so expensive, have you considered meal prepping on the weekends? It would save you the time and energy while also saving a ton of money.”

Use “I” instead of “You” Statements.
This simple tip can help with both your tone and word choice. By taking the focus off of them and putting it on yourself, they may feel less attacked and alone.

Rather than saying “You could cut back your grocery budget and pay off your debt,” change your focus.

Say instead, “Back when I struggled with debt, I had to cut back my grocery budget and only buy the necessities each week. Although it was tough for a little while, it helped me in the long run.”

If it goes poorly, walk away.
If your friends or family do not want your help, do not force it on them. Rather than beating a dead horse, take a deep breath and walk away. When it comes down to it, you are only responsible for your own financial decisions. You cannot force change on those who are unreceptive. You certainly cannot force complete lifestyle changes on anyone who is less than fully committed. I know it is hard to see your loved ones struggle financially, but your advice could do more harm than good if you pressure them.

Have you ever helped a love one with their finances, without being asked? If so, how did you approach the situation and what worked best?

Emilie is the brains, the brawn, and the beauty behind Burke Does, inspiring millennial women to live financially, physically, and professionally fit lives. She writes about overcoming debt, while balancing trying to eat healthy, stay fit, and have a little fun along the way. Read more about her journey here.

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