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Top 5 Tips for Asking for Financial Help

You hate it, I hate it, everybody hates it. Sometimes, though, asking for financial help is the only way out of a jam. With the holiday season coming up, chances are your relatives are asking you what you want as a gift. What if you gave a different answer this year and got some financial help instead of a new pair of socks? If you choose to go down this road, here are our top 5 tips for making the conversation as easy as possible:

Figure out Your Needs

You’ll feel more comfortable asking for help when you have a clear picture of your needs. Then, you can ask for help tackling your number-one financial priority. Let’s say you’re feeling swamped with student loan payments and credit card debt. Figure out which debt carries the highest interest rate and make this the first destination for any financial help you get.

Ease into It

Top 5 Tips for Asking for Financial Help

If you know someone well enough to ask for financial help, chances are your financial situation isn’t a secret. Just in case, though, make sure you ease into the conversation by setting up the background for your request. Remind your listener of what you’re going through. Maybe you’re struggling to put together money for a down payment because you’ve realized it’s cheaper to buy than rent. Maybe this could be the year you become debt-free if you have a little help. It’s a good idea to acquaint your listener with your situation before the Big Ask.

Find out: Is it better to buy or rent?

Explain the Stakes

What will happen if you don’t get financial help? If you do it tactfully, explaining the stakes isn’t blackmail; it’s giving your listener all the information. Got a bill that will go to collections and mar your credit if you don’t pay it off? That’s something you should mention. Will you save thousands on private mortgage insurance if you can put just a little more money down on your new home? Ditto.

Have a Plan

We all enjoy feeling like our money is going to a good cause, but we also want to know that it won’t be wasted. If you’re asking for some serious financial help, you should have a plan to go along with that ask. Tell your friend or relative how you would allocate the gift and when.

Be Gracious

Top 5 Tips for Asking for Financial Help

Even if you ask respectfully, you might not get an immediate yes. The person you ask may say no, or they may ask for time to think about it. Whatever the answer, be gracious in your response. Thank the person for listening. You don’t want your relationship to be all about money matters, so remember to follow up on your conversation with a normal phone call or visit… where the topic is something other than finances.

Asking for help can make a big difference to your financial health. When handled correctly, it’s a conversation that can leave both parties feeling good about the gift—and the relationship. Follow our 5 tips and you’ll go in to that conversation with confidence.

Update: In need of further financial advice? SmartAsset can help. So many people reached out to us looking for tax and long-term financial planning help, we started our own matching service to help you find a financial advisor. The SmartAdvisor matching tool can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three fiduciaries who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Minerva Studio, ©iStock.com/Lisa5201, ©iStock.com/Kali Nine LLC

Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia's work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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