What’s the Best Way to Help a Family Member Struggling Financially?

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Q. Our daughter and son-in-law are struggling to pay their mortgage and other bills each month. She was laid off from her job and has been caring for our son-in-law at home. He has multiple health issues. Our son-in-law may be influenced by addictive behavior such as gambling or using drugs. He is very depressed since he has had to deal with health issues that have been causing considerable pain. I’m wondering how to best help them. What resources are out there to help them?

Dear Reader,

It sounds like your daughter and son-in-law are going through tough times, both financially and emotionally. And your heart and mind are in the right place trying to connect them with the right resources to help them get back on track.

There are plenty of resources if you know where to look. If you suspect your son-in-law is depressed and having issues with substance abuse or gambling, you and your daughter should help him get in touch with the appropriate health professionals. Clinical depression can only be diagnosed and treated by a doctor, and it often requires a combination of medication and therapy. You could ask the family doctor, other family members and friends for recommendations. Alternatively, you can also call 211 to get information about community-based programs available in your area.

While they take care of their health issues, they should also focus on their finances. If they are falling behind on their mortgage payments, they may be at risk of losing their home in the future. So, their best resource to deal with this situation is to enlist the help of housing counselor from an NFCC-certified nonprofit agency or any other reputable agency. A housing counselor will review their overall financial situation and help them find ways to prevent a foreclosure. There are many programs and strategies to help struggling homeowners, a popular one being loan modification programs. These programs usually make monthly mortgage payments more affordable for homeowners so that they avoid foreclosure. Depending on their current situation, their housing counselor can find modification programs they may be eligible for and help them throughout the application process, which can be cumbersome. In addition to addressing the housing situation, the counselor can also help them deal with their mounting monthly bills by optimizing their budget, working with their creditors through lender hardship programs or even identifying potential income sources. Together, they will set goals and create a strategy to follow over time. But, since it is two of them in this situation, it’s essential that both your daughter and her husband work together and follow the counselor recommendations. I encourage you to work with your daughter and support her through the counseling process, especially as she takes the first steps, which are always the hardest. It will take time for them to recover and attain balance and financial stability in their lives, but I am sure they can do it with perseverance and patience. Good luck!

Bruce McClary, Vice President of Communications

Bruce McClary is the Vice President of Communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). Based in Washington, D.C., he provides marketing and media relations support for the NFCC and its member agencies serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Bruce is considered a subject matter expert and interfaces with the national media, serving as a primary representative for the organization. He has been a featured financial expert for the nation’s top news outlets, including USA Today, MSNBC, NBC News, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, MarketWatch, Fox Business, and hundreds of local media outlets from coast to coast.

If you have a question about your own specific financial situation, don’t hesitate to submit your question to our experts today! If you would like a thorough review of your personal financial situation, contact one of our nonprofit credit counseling agencies today!

*Some questions have been shortened and/or altered for publication purposes while others have been published as is.