As we’re seeing globally right now, millions of people are losing their jobs or having to close businesses due to the impact of the coronavirus and related issues.
This new reality means many people – often those who were already struggling – are in a bad place financially. As time passes, this number is likely to increase, too, as the economic fallout from the health crisis fully hits.
You may have family members, either people in the same area as you or located around the country or abroad, about whom you’re currently anxious. If you’re keen to help those in financial trouble, here are some things to consider.
Be Clear on What You Can Afford to Offer
While it’s natural and kind to want to help people, be careful not to offer so much assistance that you end up in a tight spot yourself. Understand what you can truly afford to provide to others before you commit to aid, or start giving money away.
When someone you care about is struggling, it’s also wise to pause and think about whether their problem is temporary or likely to be long-term. Consider, too, whether they have a plan for avoiding getting into the same situation in the future. You no doubt don’t want to enable negative habits that could repeat in the future, such as gambling addictions.
If you’re in a position to, you may want to help your family monetarily. You can give people a cash gift all at once, or provide them with smaller amounts on a periodic or regular basis until their troubles resolve. If you plan to hand out a substantial sum, read the Internal Revenue Service’s information about annual gift tax exclusions. Plus, if you’re giving a gift, let the recipient know that it’s not a loan needing repayment.
Alternatively, you might decide to provide a loan, whether short-term or long-term. Talk frankly with the person you’re providing the credit to, create a written contract detailing the repayment terms and other details, and have both sides sign it, with at least one witness also notating the contract.
Your paperwork should cover the term of the loan, conditions of the loan, and repayment amounts and due dates. Also, detail any interest rates you plan to factor in and how these will be calculated, and information about your recourse if your loved one doesn’t live up to their side of the agreement. For large loans, again consider tax implications and speak with your accountant or a tax specialist for advice.
If you’re going to transfer a considerable sum of cash to someone in a different city, state, or country, look for ways to reduce the fees you and the other person have to pay for the service. Read up on how to affordably send money online for best practice tips.
Other ways to monetarily support someone who is having a rough time of things right now are:
- Buying them gift cards to stores they frequent
- Giving them pre-paid debit or credit cards
- Paying their rent or mortgage payments for a time
- Paying some of their other bills, such as credit card bills or utility expenses
- Letting them stay with you so they don’t have to outlay money on rent or other accommodation, or can rent out their home to cover their mortgage repayments
Provide Other Support
If you’re in a situation where you don’t have much spare cash yourself or worry about the complexities or awkwardness potentially involved with helping out with money, remember that there are all sorts of other ways you can support people.
For example, provide services to give them more time to bring in extra income or simply to alleviate some of their stress. You could cook them meals or bring them groceries, offer babysitting services, mow their lawn, clean their house, or tackle other tasks.
If you have relevant skills, consider providing support such as budgeting assistance or job-related things like resume and job application assistance, and interview practice. You might help your loved one to update or create a website or to network more effectively online via social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
You may also be able to help family members update their training in some areas or connect them with or provide them information about free services and other support.
Furthermore, remember that people who are struggling also need lots of emotional support. Being there for them, providing a shoulder to cry on, or someone to listen can make a huge difference.
Anything you can do to help those in need is going to not only help them financially but also make it more likely that they’ll persist through the hard times and come out in a stronger position later.