The other day, one of my good friends was telling me about his money situation. To put it simply, he was waiting on his next paycheck to be able to pay for his son’s baseball pictures.
I felt kind of bad for him, and my initial reaction was to start dishing out financial advice. You know: Tell him how he can stop living paycheck to paycheck, and that kind of thing.
But I bit my tongue.
My friend wasn’t looking for my sympathy or my advice. In fact, he’s one of the most frugal people I know. He already knows what to do. What he needed was somebody who would just listen; listen without judging; listen without telling him how he should be living his life.
While driving home, I was extremely grateful I’d kept my mouth shut and been a good friend. I haven’t always done this, though, so I started to think about how often I dish out and receive unsolicited advice.
Are you guilty of the same thing?
When You Shouldn’t Offer Financial Advice
In the case of my friend, he works 40+ hours per week for $10/ hour, and is raising two kids. He’s also frugal beyond frugal. In the wintertime, he blocks off heat to all but a couple rooms to save on electricity. And when his kids aren’t home, his house feels like a freezer. In his case, it’s an income problem.
He know he needs to earn more money, which is why he picks up overtime whenever possible and has been actively looking for another job. But he has a long journey ahead of him — and he knows it. He doesn’t need my advice at all. He needs my support, and I’m so glad I was able to recognize that.
And this is only one example. There are plenty of other situations where offering financial advice is not a good idea — even if you think the person needs it. To be frank: If a person doesn’t want to change and hasn’t asked for your opinion, you’re not going to be able to help them — no matter what you say.
When It’s OK to Offer Your Advice
Think back to the last time someone gave you unsolicited advice. How did it make you feel? Was it a slap in the face?
Probably. And that’s because, like my friend, you weren’t looking for it.
In my opinion, the only time you should give out advice is when someone specifically asks you for it. Otherwise, you’re wasting your breath. No matter how much you think a person needs your help, they’re not going to change until they are ready. And that’s out of your control.
What Do You Think?
I’m going to keep biting my tongue when I get that urge to tell someone what to do. I honestly believe that if we support the people who need our help — instead of judging them or giving unwanted advice — we’d all have better relationships.
Do you agree? Do you give unsolicited advice — on finances, or any other matter?