It’s hard to ask for help with your money issues.
For all that people love to talk about what the stock market is doing or their favorite money saving tips, ask something personal like “how much do you make?” or “how much are you saving for retirement?” and you’re more likely to get a cold stare of death than an honest answer.
This is really hard. Because when nobody else is talking about money, it can start to feel like you’re just supposed to be able to figure it out on your own.
But know this: you’re definitely not supposed to just know how to handle money, and the truth is that most people don’t talk about it because they’re not comfortable with it either. It’s not that they already have it figured out. It’s that they don’t have it figured out and they feel just as ashamed about it as you do.
So if you’re feeling confused about money, if you have questions or if you’re feeling stuck, know that you’re not alone and that you don’t have to do it alone.
Here are four reasons why you should ask for help, and four ideas for who to ask.
1. It will save you time
There’s no such thing as a self-made man. Every successful person you know had plenty of help along the way. In fact, many of them will probably tell you that the hardest and most important thing they learned along the way was how to ask for help. And if they had learned that sooner, they probably would have found success a lot quicker.
There’s always someone who’s already been through whatever it is you’re going through now and had to ask all of the same questions and sift through all of the same information. Sure, you could probably duplicate that effort and get to an answer on your own, but if you can find that person and ask for their help, you’ll reach your goals a whole lot sooner.
2. It will save you frustration
Working through a problem yourself can provide a lot of benefits, but feeling stuck and continually banging your head against the wall is just a quick route to frustration. You might start to feel lonely, or stupid, or like there isn’t actually a way to get where you want to go.
Asking for help is a great way to break through this frustration. You’ll find other people struggling with the same things and you won’t feel so alone. You’ll also immediately get some ideas for how to move forward. All of this will make your situation feel a little more hopeful, a little less unique, and will give you a renewed energy take it on.
3. You’ll find answers to questions you didn’t know you had
To me, this is the big one. As soon as you ask someone for help, you get access to knowledge and ideas that you didn’t have before. And there’s no telling what they might know. You might ask for help starting a budget and instead find out that you can accomplish the same goals without a budget. You might start out asking how to retire by 65, and find out that there’s a whole different set of options out there.
When we put ourselves out there and connect with other people, we open ourselves up to new opportunities. And it’s impossible to know what those might be ahead of time, so the best thing you can do is just start asking.
4. You’ll have more fun doing it with other people
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get so wrapped up in my issues that sometimes I forget that asking people is even an option. But every single time I remember to get out of my own head and reach out to someone, the problem almost instantly becomes much more fun and exciting. There’s just something energizing and engaging about sharing the experience with another person that makes the whole thing a lot more enjoyable. And sometimes you can even make a lifelong friend out of it.
Who should you ask for help?
If you do want to ask for help, where should you look? Friends and family, normally the source of most of our support, often either aren’t comfortable talking about money or don’t know much more than you do. So without that, it can be hard to know where to turn.
Here are some resources I’ve used that have helped me:
Friends and family – Wait, what? But you just said that… Yeah I know. I literally just said that friends and family often aren’t much help. But sometimes you can find a couple who are, and that can be huge. Even if they aren’t any more knowledgeable than you are, just having someone you love to talk things through with can be a big help. You might not find a lot of support here but it’s at least worth looking.
Online communities – There are a ton of online communities dedicated to talking money. Some of them are incredibly active and are filled with a lot of smart people who genuinely just enjoy talking about these things and helping people. Two of the best I know of are Babycenter’s Family Finances group and the Bogleheads forum.
Professionals – One of the most popular posts on this site is my explanation for why whole life insurance is a bad investment, but the truth is that I almost got suckered into buying some of it myself just 3 years ago. You can read more detail about that here, but my saving grace was having two friends working as fee-only financial planners who I could ask for advice. They both strongly warned me away, and I was able to avoid a big mistake.
People I don’t yet know – There have been a number of times that I’ve been looking for an answer to something online, found someone who seemed to know the answer, and so I found an email address or contact form or something and reached out to them. Most of the time they responded, and some of them became friends I still keep in touch with today. Never be afraid to reach out to someone, even if you don’t know them. You’d be surprised how willing people are to share their time.
Work + help = success
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t put in your own work too. You’ll actually get a bigger benefit from asking for help if you’ve done some work on your own first. You’ll have a better sense of which questions to ask and you’ll be in a better position to understand and use the advice if you’ve already done some prep work.
But don’t wait too long before reaching out to others. We all need support every now and then, and the more comfortable you are in asking for it, the more successful you’ll be.
So tell me: what’s something you’ve been struggling with that you’d love to get some help on? How are you going to ask for help?