Most financial articles are self-help so I thought it might be good idea to discuss how to help others. I suspect most people can’t fix their own finances without some kind of help from someone else. Yes, ultimately it is still up to each individual person to apply financial wisdom, but they need your help.
- Encouragement is one of the best gifts you can give to someone. Encourage means to give courage. Tackling financial problems isn’t easy, and people feel defeated. You can help them by telling them they are smart, intelligent and creative people- because they are, everyone is, in their unique way. You can encourage them by telling them how you struggled or avoided it, and how you clawed your way out. Tell them they can do it, and to keep trying. Few people totally succeed with their first few efforts and encouragement really helps.
- Financial study is key. Tell them how particular authors, blogs, or financial personalities helped you. Great writers and speakers like Mary Hunt and Dave Ramsey too where nearly, or were bankrupt, and they learned from others how to dig their way out. Point people you know towards these writers.
- Taking classes is essential too. We lead two Financial Peace University (FPU) classes each year, because they work. They work because Dave Ramsey’s video lessons teach everything people need to learn to get their house in order. In addition, they have small group breakout discussions so that people can get extra help and accountability. Go to www.daveramsey.com to search by zip code for classes nearby- they are offered all over town, and start soon. If someone lives hundreds of miles away from civilization, they can pay a little more and get the do-it-at-home course.
- Sponsor someone to take the class, but don’t pay the entire amount. Most people need to have some skin, or investment in the game. If people don’t invest a few dollars into it, then they will not be committed to the class. Some people don’t like help, but come up with a creative way to pay some of the cost (usually around $100), or babysit their kids while they are in class.
- Help them budget. If you know someone who is having a tough time, tell them you will sit down with them and show them how to manage their income and expenses so that there is money left over at the end of the month. Research says 70% of people live paycheck-to-paycheck, but most people don’t know how manage their monthly finances or balance their checkbook. Use simple paper and pencil forms, or great software like www.ynab.com, on their PC or mobile device.
- Lead a FPU class, if you have already taken the class. Leading FPU is easy, they provide all of the ‘how-to’s’. Lead a class in your neighborhood, apartment complex, Bible study group, work lunch break, or local community center.
- Be a good example, by being wise with savings and investments, and spending. Have a good attitude and tell people who helped you. You can have a lot of nice things, but don’t flaunt your wealth, but be grateful for the good things God has given you and walk in humility. My brother Barry, and my pastor Rich Nathan, have been lifelong examples for me of managing money wisely.
- Be generous. Give to churches and organizations helping others with their finances, jobs and other essential lifestyles skills. Help others with basic needs if they are going without food, or utilities. However try to offer it with humility, along with offers to help them budget and take financial classes if appropriate. If people are making bad decisions, and you don’t provide wisdom along with cash, at least at times you might be hurting them more than helping them. Many churches offer benevolence assistance with bills for people that are struggling, and provide it with accountability. Get involved in your church’s benevolence ministry and help them do just that.
- Pray for those who are struggling. Lead a small group financial Bible study, like those offered by Compass.
- If you are in the position to start a business, consider doing so. Nothing helps people financially more than a good job with benefits.
- If you are a leader in business, get behind offering financial education classes to your employees. Several studies have shown that they help people with their finances, and help them be better employees.
- Lastly, teach your children how to manage finances at home, and lead financial classes for youth at church. Some financial institutions have sponsored financial classes in schools.
Helping others will be good for them and you. It is satisfying, and character building to do the hard work to help others carry their burdens. Finally, when we help others we are following what Jesus called the second greatest commandment in Matthew 22:39 ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’