finance

'The worst question you can ask someone in a time of crisis.'

The author of this article is known to Mamamia but has chosen to stay Anonymous. 

I hate when people ask that question. That one question that nobody wants to answer. “What can I do to help?” Or worse, “Let me know if you need anything.”

Has anyone actually ever said “well, actually, I really need to borrow $500 as I can’t afford to fix the tooth that is keeping me up all night in agony.” Or, “We’re under enormous financial pressure, can you please help me out with a few groceries?”

Unlikely. No one ever takes up the offer. Not because they don’t want to. Not because they don’t desperately need to. But because it’s so damn hard to actually ASK for help. No one wants to stoop that low. No matter how shockingly shit things actually might be – no one wants to say it out loud. It’s not that you’re in denial. Oh no f*&%#ing way! There’s no denial when you’re putting items back as you’re standing at the checkout and your face is burning with humiliation. There’s no denial when you can’t afford the gap to take your kid to the doctor. There’s no denial when you’ve sold everything you can possibly sell that’s worth anything and there’s still no money for petrol.

It’s just so bloody hard to ask for help.

Nobody is sick, thank the Lord above, but life is frigging tough. There’s just not enough money coming in to meet the output. Day in and day out, all you think about is making ends meet.

You know that grocery list in the kitchen that you keep adding to? Well, I call it a wish list. Ever had to go through your shopping list item by item, crossing off the non-essential things? Things like face wash (when you can just use regular soap) or honey (you can probably make it through another week). That’s me, That’s how I live my life. I mentally calculate the items in my trolley as I make my way through the supermarket. Maths has never been my strong suit, but managing an almost non-existent budget means I know – almost down to the last cent – what I’ll have to cough up at the checkout – all in an effort to avoid that ultimate humiliation…having to put items back as an impatient line of shoppers watch on.

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So here’s what I want to say: Don’t ask or offer – just do it!

If you’re one of those fortunate people who don’t need to worry about money from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, until the moment you close them at night – here are five things you can do to help a friend who is going through a tough time financially:

1. Leave groceries at their front door.

The best way to do this, is anonymously. That way there’s no need for your friend to have to call you in tears, to thank you. Think of what your ‘tough-times’ friend might need in a week and buy it! Maybe it’s meat or chicken, maybe it’s fruit and veg or even snacks for the kids lunchboxes – all of this is massively appreciated by someone who is doing it tough – especially if they haven’t had to ask for it.

2. Leave an envelope with money or a gift card in their mailbox.

Again, do this anonymously. Even $20 can be an enormous help and could mean the difference between having petrol in the car – or not. Or maybe it means meat for dinner instead of pasta or potatoes again. You have no idea the difference even $20 can make.

3. Drop off a voucher for a mani, pedi or massage.

Chances are that the person doing it tough hasn’t had the indulgence of a good mani or pedi in…. well, forever. Nothing makes a person feel more indulged and nurtured than being treated to a luxurious and relaxing experience.

4. Leave a meal on their doorstep.

This one is profound. For a struggling working parent – coming home to a ready-made, fresh family meal can literally be life-altering. It means healthy, fresh food and a night off from having to cook. It could honestly mean the world!

5. Offer to have their kids sleep over.

Give your friend a break from having to cook, clean-up and nurture for just one night. And if you really want to go the extra mile… hand over a bottle of wine when they drop their kids off at your place!

So stop asking what you can do to help and just do it.

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