What Not to Say When Your Friend is Struggling with Money

We all have friends who are a blast to hang out with, but who aren’t always the most supportive of our financial goals — whether on purpose or not. The worst is when you realize that you, yourself, can actually be that friend who pressures others into spending, even when it comes from a good place!

For example, you may have found yourself encouraging a friend to go out for drinks or to buy something new, even after they may have casually mentioned that they’re trying to save money. A recent Financial Health Network report found that 70% of Americans are financially struggling so there’s a good chance that one or more of your friends are going through serious financial strain.

So how can you be more supportive? We put together this list of statements to avoid saying to a friend who’s working toward financial fitness, and what you can do instead.

1. “Treat Yo Self.” 

This little phrase can do wonders in getting a person to feel good about an unwise expenditure, but in reality, it may encourage negative behaviors, like splurging and indulgence to occur out of habit. 

If you feel that a friend isn’t giving themselves the self-care they deserve, encourage them with motivational phrases that don’t have anything to do with money, like “You’ve got this,” or “I know you can do it.” 

2. “Our favorite store is having a sale.”

Although this may feel like an innocent way of getting your friend to forget their struggles and do something fun for a little bit, it also carries a heavy burden for their pockets and provokes unnecessary spending. A great way to get “new” clothes is to host a clothing exchange with friends. Everyone brings a few pieces that they no longer want, and everyone leaves with a few items that are new to their closet. 

3. “Just put it on your credit card.”

There will always be something to charge to a credit card, and getting comfortable with putting unnecessary purchases on a card is no habit you’d want to encourage in a friend. If they mention that they can’t afford the item or that it’s not in the budget right now, it’s best to respect that statement. Everyone is on a different financial journey and you should let your friend prioritize their financial goals!

4. “Maybe you can find another job that pays better.”

This can easily be said with good intentions, but it also comes across as unsupportive. First, don’t mention switching jobs or careers, if your friend hasn’t shared a desire to do so. A person’s career can have its own limitations on salary, and career goals vary by individual. 

However, if your friend brings this up first, you can show your support by learning more about what they’re looking for in their next role. From there, offer help with either job searching, resume writing or mock interviews. If they’re open and able to work a side job, we’ve got a list of side hustles they can do right from their phone. Any support you can provide throughout the job search process helps them reach their goals faster. 

5. “I can loan you some cash.”

Even if you’re BFFs, loaning money to friends is a risky move. You may think that this is the easiest way to provide immediate help, but it does nothing to change their current situation. To avoid any potential rifts or pressure, you can offer your help by creating a budget with them together, if they’re open to the idea. 

Related: 5 Tips to Help When You’re on a Tight Budget

If you have a plan that’s worked well for you, use this time to share resources or templates that can guide their financial habits. However, don’t be offended if your friend doesn’t want to talk about money.

When it comes to how to show support for a friend, your first reaction may be to say or do something that provides immediate comfort, but may not offer a long-term solution to their financial situation. By being kind and respectful about their financial choices, you can help — not hinder — your friend’s financial goals.

What Not to Say When Your Friend is Struggling with Money is written by The Financial Gym Team for

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