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Minimizing the Impact of Your Financial Problems on Others

Often, financial problems don’t just affect the person struggling, but end up rippling out to those around them. Financial Coach, Lauren Canafranca , explains to our reader, Gary, how to minimize that impact.

The question…

Dear Experts,
Covid really took a toll on my finances. I’m taking steps to get back on my feet, but it’s going to take a while. Any advice on how I can minimize how much my financial problems impact those close to me? I don’t want them to be burdened.

Gary K., Niagara Falls, ON

The answer…

Hi Gary,

The pandemic affected so many Canadians’ finances. Sweeping layoffs, inflation, interest hikes and prolonged emotional and financial stress have produced hardship across all income levels. Canadians are carrying more consumer debt than ever before and financial stress is getting harder to ignore. You are not alone with your money problems. Many of the people around you are dealing with challenges of their own.

Needing help does not make you a burden.
Everyone struggles sometimes.

While true that sometimes financial hardship is preventable. Often though, it’s not. Unfortunately, things outside of our control, like a global pandemic, can lead us into a time of financial hardship. We just didn’t see it coming.

There is an emotional gap between knowing better and doing better that is often overlooked with money. Our money beliefs and behaviours do not adjust as quickly as our income can. A sudden drop in income can be difficult to navigate at any income level.

So how do we acknowledge our financial problems and minimize the impact on others?

Get clarity

The first step towards moving the financial needle is getting really clear on where you are standing.
Sometimes things feel much worse than they are. Occasionally they are worse, but it is important to have that information so you can make a plan.
To begin you will need to know whether you are earning enough each month. Construct a basic budget by making a list of all your monthly expenses and then adding them up. Subtract that number from your take-home income. If the number you end up with is negative don’t panic. All this information tells you is that you need to make some changes.

Explore your options

Initially, you will look at your expenses to see where you can make some cuts. Review your expenses. Phone and internet plans are usually a good place to look for cost-cutting, as well as, adjusting some discretionary spending.

Next, it is important to assess your debt service. This is the amount you are required to pay towards your debts each month. This number has grown for Canadians throughout the past several years and it takes a significant toll on our mental health. High debt payments limit us from saving and can degrade our sense of well-being. It keeps us in the debt cycle as we are forced to cover unexpected expenses with more debt.

As our debt payments climb we are less able to engage in activities and hobbies that we enjoy. These are the things that give our lives substance beyond work, pay bills, and repeat.

If your credit card payments are too high it may make sense to talk to a Credit Counsellor about your options.

Next look at your income. Is there an opportunity to pick up more shifts, negotiate a raise or even switch jobs for higher pay? Work both sides of the budget equation to find balance.


The second half of your question relates to how your financial problems can impact those who are close to you. I’ll admit I’m a bit limited in how well I can address this without knowing exactly who and how they may be impacted. What I can say is that once you have a plan it is vital that you communicate that plan to the people in your life you are worried about. Whether the burden you are describing is real or perceived it is beneficial to everyone to have open communication. Transparency with those involved is critical to preventing resentment and maintaining your relationships.

  • If your spouse is paying for more things than they are used to, opening up a dialogue about your finances can be helpful. Share how you’re feeling and what you plan on doing. Ask them how they are feeling about the financial situation. You may find that the story you are telling yourself isn’t anywhere near what they are thinking and they may have some great ideas. Being able to share your plan and timeline leaves the guesswork and storytelling out of the relationship.
  • You may feel like you won’t be able to participate with your friends the way you are used to. If that’s the case, I recommend talking to them about your current goals and what you are working toward. You may not be able to host the dinner party or pick up the tab but there are other ways to engage with friends and show them you care about them.
  • If you have had to borrow money from a family member, stay open about your repayment plans. Keep a shared tracking sheet to record your repayment. Stay in contact if something comes up and you have to make a smaller payment.

Money affects our relationships; interpersonally, romantically, and intergenerationally. Things get weird when we let shame take over. It requires vulnerability to have these conversations. The people in your life will appreciate that you are facing your financial problems head-on. Your relationships will benefit from clear open communication.


The last step is to put your plan into motion. Don’t let the situation stagnate. Prolonged financial stress can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other negative health consequences. Keep moving forward. Worst-case scenario, you’ll make a misstep on your way to getting back on your feet. That’s okay, adjust and move forward. Best case scenario, your progress will motivate you even more and you’ll get back on your feet even sooner than expected.

Remember, yes, you may have to adjust your lifestyle but help is out there and you don’t have to handle this alone. A benefit of communicating with the people involved in your financial situation is that you have a team of people now supporting you. You can do your part on the team to stay engaged.

  • Create a check-in system with those involved so the communication lines stay open.
  • Stay the course. If you get extra income beyond your plan, prioritize your emergency fund to prevent this situation in the future.
  • Celebrate. Acknowledge when you hit milestones. Allow yourself to feel proud of the steps you have taken. Recovering from a financial crisis is hard work and you deserve to celebrate.

You’ve got this.

About Lauren Canafranca

I am an Accredited Financial Counsellor® Canada which means I have a fiduciary responsibility and a code of ethics that ensures the advice I give is in a client’s best interest. I help clients rise from the overwhelm, pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, and build safety through their finances. I guide them to a debt-free life so they can start dreaming again and rise into an abundant and intentional life. All wrapped up in a judgment-free space.

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