photo credit: mrpattersonsir
The 700 Billion bailout plan is not enough to help struggling American’s save homes currently facing foreclosure notices. In some instances a couple may be living paycheck to paycheck and one minor hiccup can derail the family finances. A hospitalization, a reduction in work hours, or increased expenses could mean the difference between shelter and homelessness. Many large institutions that are labeled “too big to fail” have the U.S. government to help when investments go bad, who can you turn to when you hit a rough spot in your family finances?
Your friends are hurting and feeling financial devastated right now. You want to help, but don’t know how. Should you offer to help them in some way as they are having mortgage paying issues? Solving a families money problems with more money may not be the best solution. How can you help friends who are facing a financial nightmare?
Here are free creative ideas to help friends facing foreclosure or bankruptcy:
1. Date night. Offer to watch your friends children while they have a date night. I’m not suggesting you promote going out to Ruth’s Chris steak house and a concert. You can offer to watch their kids at your house and let them have a night to catch-up. No strings attached and you shouldn’t probably assume they will talk about money issues. It’s just a good opportunity to have them talk again.
2. Recommend financial counseling. If your friend was ill or needed surgery, I’m sure you would recommend a good doctor that they could contact. Since a home foreclosure or bankruptcy is a serious financial emergency, see if they would be willing to talk with a professional. Many local cities and counties offer debt counseling services. Also, if you attend a church you can see if your pastor has access to Good Sense Ministry, Crown Financial Ministries and Dave Ramsey church programs. These courses are free at many churches and can offer ideas to help create a budget and track and cut expenses. I have taken the Good Sense Ministry coursework and while much of the information is very easy to understand, you can implement changes overnight. Tracking your expenses daily will open your eyes to where your money is going. The most important aspect of any of these seminars is open communication between spouses and a willingness to try something new with your finances.
3. Listen to your friend. Talk is cheap and free advice is still free. Listening to a friend who is going through a financial disaster like a foreclosure or bankruptcy can be priceless. You might not have the answers, but offering to listen to your friend in need could be the most important thing they need right now. The hard part is going to be listening, as you probably be tempted to give advice.
4. Cook a meal for them. If money is tight for your family as well, you could offer to fix them a spaghetti dinner or have them over to your house for a combined family meal. This will allow you to talk more and show your support through the financial crisis. A healing meal can be a wonderful blessing to your friends.
5. Recommend a professional. Do you know how to work with your lender and get months added to your mortgage? Do you know what letters to write your lender if you want to extend your foreclosure process? A great, not good, but great realtor or mortgage broker could assist your friend with this information. They have the industry knowledge and could keep your friends in the current home for a few more months. This could also allow them to negotiate the loan terms and keep the home too.
6. Miranda at Yielding Wealth suggested a coupon competition to spark a healthy competition with your friend to try and save as much money as possible. Could you save over $100 a month on your grocery bill? You could also swap coupons or trade coupons with your friends if you don’t purchase a particular item or brand.
7. Buy heating oil in bulk with your neighbors and negotiate a lower price. If you need to purchase heating oil this winter Greener Pastures: Personal Finance suggests helping neighbors save money by buying oil together.
8. Laurel Plum suggests helping friends declutter and sell unwanted items on ebay or craigslist. Laurel has a lot of great info on here website as she specializes in helping people organize and declutter.
9. FruGal emphasizes listening to your friend facing a bankruptcy or foreclosure and also offering to drive kids to school. A carpool to school or even offering to pick up your friends children from soccer practice might give them a little break.
10. FFB recommends calling up a creditor or mortgage company and asking to negotiate the terms of your loan. Can’t hurt when facing a bankruptcy or foreclosure. I would be surprised if they said “no” flat out and wouldn’t be interested in working with the person. If the mortgage lender could add a month or two to the loan, that could help a friend save a home.
11. Jennifer has a wonderful idea to offer and help your friends pets. Pets can be impacted by a foreclosure and might have to be surrendered to a local animal shelter or adoption agency. If you have the room or yard, you might want to consider offering to house a friends pet.
12. Susan suggests watching a friend for signs of stress and depression. Offering to talk, listen, and finding medical help if necessary. She also shares how a prepaid phone card could help a friend in need. This could allow someone to stay connected and negotiate with lenders, creditors, and even a realtor.
Do you have a creative free idea that could help your friends through a financial disaster? Leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list above.