When is it overdone to help someone?

How can you help a person in debt?

Anyone can get into financial difficulties at one point or another. Often, however, debt leads to shame, making it difficult for those affected to talk about their problems. Relatives and friends usually find out about the financial emergency relatively late, and it is then often very difficult for them to help. So how can you support someone who doesn't know how to deal with their debts?

People who are in debt tell, for example for fear of negative reactions or because they do not want to burden their loved ones, often not from their financial problems. But the support of family or friends can be crucial when it comes to finding a way out of debt. Therefore, offer your active support if a relative or someone close to you has trouble keeping their finances in order. Also give the indebted the opportunity to simply pour out their hearts to you. It may be the first time he's telling someone about it. An honest conversation is an opportunity for him to take the horror out of the subject and to overcome his shame. However, do not let the person who confides in you seek the reasons for their problems only in others in order to get out of responsibility. Help the indebted to see that they can only find a way out of debt if they accept it and understand that no one other than themselves can solve their problem.


People who have been able to get themselves out of the debt trap often report that their lives changed for the better when they stopped taking their debt for granted. Such a breakthrough in your mindset gives you the energy you need to actively fight debt. By being ready to deal with the situation of the person concerned, you take on a very important role, because sometimes a simple conversation is enough to look at a difficult situation from a completely new perspective. This will be easier for you because you are not directly affected and so have a certain distance from it. Make sure that you neither downplay nor exaggerate the extent of the problem, but instead develop a realistic plan of action together.

The first step: create clarity

People in debt often do not know how much their debts really are - so first of all you have to be clear about the exact situation. A very simple way to do this is to make a list of all liabilities and expenses and compare them to income. It is not easy to visualize the problem so clearly, but it does ensure that the extent of the problem can be clearly identified. This already makes the search for a solution much easier, because in this way, for example, the possible amount of the installments for debt repayment can be determined.

Think positive: motivation through success stories

At this stage, how the debt problem is perceived is very important. Emotions should be hidden here, even if it is difficult. Indebted people often feel guilty about the situation and have little self-confidence. This attitude prevents them from taking positive steps. Then it makes sense to tell the culprit about similar cases that have turned out well: Such stories from other people very often offer the opportunity to recognize similarities, to draw new hope and to find the motivation to take action yourself.

Be open: seek contact with the creditors

One of the most important steps for indebted consumers is to organize relationships with individuals and institutions with whom they have defaulted. Therefore it is important to motivate them to take action and to bring themselves to speak to their believers. The point here is to honestly inform the creditors about the situation and to show that you are responsible to them. Above all, those affected should realize that avoiding contact or making empty promises to creditors will only make the situation worse, as this will reduce the chance of an amicable solution.

What not everyone knows: It is only advantageous for the debtor to speak to the claimant in order to find an amicable solution. By reaching an agreement, you avoid unnecessary additional costs, as well as judicial or enforcement proceedings. Therefore it is best to get in touch as soon as possible and ask for the debt to be repaid in installments.

Seek support: These experts will help

If you cannot help yourself, it is also possible to refer to associations or institutions that support people in debt: Non-profit organizations often offer free advice to people with debt problems. Contact points of the Diakonie or the Arbeiterwohlfahrt offer, for example, confidential financial, legal and consumer information. Since many of those affected find it difficult to have a personal conversation at the advice center, Caritas, among others, also offers online advice. The counseling service Money and Household, for example, has useful offers for a debt-free life, such as budget planners and other practical aids. Debtors can use these free of charge to get their financial situation back under control over the long term.