Friendly advice, especially of the financial type, is a strange beast. It is almost always given with good intention and almost always received poorly.
There are times when sound financial advice from a caring friend is exactly what is needed.
If you find yourself in such a position, here are some tips to help you walk that fine line between well-intentioned advice and self-serving arrogance.
1. The difference between unsolicited and asked-for advice.
If you are offering advice to a friend who has not requested it, you are already at a disadvantage. The danger here is you come off sounding like you know more than they do about managing their own finances.
On the other hand, if a friend asks you for advice, pay close attention to exactly what they are asking for. This is not an open invitation to convince them of your deep financial knowledge, but it’s a request for specific information.
2. Try to empathize with their situation.
Ask yourself: Is this repeat behavior, or do they just need to learn on their own from this experience?
If you believe they would truly benefit from a different perspective, offer it. If they simply lack the firsthand experience, maybe they would gain more from that than from your advice.
“If the recipient agrees with
the advice, you’re brilliant.“
3. Do not pry too deeply.
Assuming a friend has asked you for advice and you have considered their situation, do not ask them too many personal questions about their finances.
Many people, and even close friends, are very sensitive when it comes to financial matters. Instead, try speaking generally and watch for confirmation or clarification of the details.
4. Use examples of what you have done in the past.
It may seem that when a friend asks for advice, they are prepared to hear the worst, but do not count on it.
Instead, say things like, “When I was in a similar situation, I found that…” This will make your advice seem less like criticism.
5. Your advice is still just your perspective.
Everyone has different ways of doing things, and there are different ways to manage finances.
If you happen to have advanced knowledge in certain areas, then offer that information generally. If you see an area where your friend is close to causing financial harm, then you may see it as a personal responsibility to intervene.
In any case, give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what is best for them unless otherwise proven.
Finally, remember that even the best advice is only effective if it is received.
Try to keep any financial advice to a minimum and allow the person receiving it to ask for more if they want it. You just may walk that fine line and get to keep a friendship too.