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5 Tips to Help You Ask Family and Friends for Financial Help
Most people hate asking for help and wait until they are desperate to make any direct requests for financial assistance.
While you don’t want to make a habit of it, asking friends and family for money during a one-off time of financial need is far preferable to the high-cost alternative.
Asking for help is common.
While it may be difficult to ask family and friends for help, you should always consider this option before taking out a payday loan. Friends and family aren’t likely to charge you interest or fees, and they won’t demand repayment within two weeks.
With their support, you can pay them back over time, while keeping up with your everyday expenses. Payday loans, on the other hand, can devastate your financial future, eating up more of your income than you can afford.
Asking for help is a more common financial strategy than you might think; more than one-quarter of survey respondents said they offered financial assistance to support the everyday expenses of a person outside their immediate household, according to research from Pew Charitable Trusts. And less than half of higher-income households viewed their financial gift as a burden.
If your request is respectful and you demonstrate a repayment plan, you may find that your friend or family member will be happy to help--especially if your only alternative is a trip to your local payday lender.
1. Determine your needs.
To avoid asking for more or less than you need, write out the exact amount you need and what you need it for.
If you can trim your budget or put any of your income towards your own cause, show how you plan to do that, and determine the amount of assistance you’ll be asking for.
2. Explain your efforts so far.
If you’ve made unsuccessful attempts to help yourself already, explain what you’ve tried, and your friends and family will be more likely to assist you.
For example, you might explain that you’ve tried to get a second job, asked for a personal loan from a bank, or applied for government assistance.
3. Develop a repayment plan.
You’re going to feel better about asking for help if you’re not asking for a handout.
Develop a repayment plan to illustrate your intent to borrow the money for a specific period of time. Be realistic about how long you’ll need. You can even write out a written loan agreement to make certain that both parties are on the same page.
Prepare a budget for your expenses and subtract that amount from your income to get a reasonable monthly payment. Even if it just ends up being a few dollars each month, you’ll know you’re on your way to financial independence.
4. Give help in return.
While you’re asking for financial assistance, consider offering your free time to help friends and family.
If you can’t find a second job to cover your financial need but you have a few hours on the weekend, offer to babysit, clean, cook, or mow the lawn for the person helping you pay your bills.
You’ll feel better accepting their help if you can offer something in return.
5. Be respectful.
Give your friends and family time to consider your request, and leave them with notes about your current needs and your future plans to gain financial independence.
Follow up the discussion with a friendly visit that’s not about finances. If you do receive help, find a way to show your gratitude.
Finally, make sure to check in frequently to let them know you haven’t forgotten their gift, and you’re on your way to paying it back.
Build an emergency fund.
While borrowing money from friends and family is preferable to borrowing a payday loan, your best strategy is to have money saved up for unforeseen expenses. In short, your best bet is to have an emergency fund.
Unlike long-term savings for retirement, an emergency fund should be easily accessible. This means keeping it in cash or in a savings account. When an emergency strikes, you want this money at your fingertips.
Ideally, an emergency fund should cover at least three months of living expenses to protect against an unforeseen job loss. But that's a big ask, and aiming for three months right off the bat could be too imposing.
Instead, aim for an easily achievable number like $1,000. The sooner you start saving the sooner you’ll get there. Once you make saving money a top financial priority, you’ll be surprised how quickly your savings will grow.