How to Talk to Your Friends About Money

If you’re asking a landlord for a rent reduction, for instance, you might acknowledge the fact that they’re being hit by this crisis, too. If a friend has lost a job, it might feel awkward to reach out at first, especially when you still have yours, but you can address the awkwardness and let them know you’re thinking about them.

“It feels uncomfortable to talk about it, but it’s important to check in,” Ms. Roberts said. “And if you feel guilty, that’s something you need to reconcile for yourself so you can have the conversation.”

It’s human nature to avoid awkwardness in these situations, but ignoring the problem often makes it worse. In most cases, it’s best to address the discomfort from the beginning.

For example, if you’ve asked a roommate for a rent reduction because you’ve lost your job, you might feel guilty ordering takeout later. To mitigate hard feelings, have the conversation upfront, Ms. Lowry said. “Just say to them, ‘I’ve had a really bad week and I would like to spend 15 dollars ordering from my favorite restaurant. I just want to tell you that before it gets awkward.’”

If you feel compelled to offer a friend financial support, there’s an easy way to make it feel less like a handout and more like a gift: Offer something tangible aside from cash. “So instead of just sending them a hundred bucks, Venmo them $100 with a note like, ‘Use this to splurge on some takeout, buy from your favorite restaurant, get your favorite meal,” Ms. Lowry suggested. “That way, your friend isn’t thinking, ‘Oh she’s taking pity on me because I lost my job.’ It’s a gift, a nice gesture.”

If you decide to lend money to a friend or provide some other kind of financial relief, avoid micromanaging the situation. “Only give what you can afford to give and when you do give, it’s a gift, not a loan,” Ms. Lowry said. “And if you get the money back, great. But you have to mentally frame this as a gift.”