What you can do: Enjoy each other's company on the cheap, says Liz Perle, author of Money, a Memoir: Women, Emotions, and Cash. "Take a walk. Get your nails done for 10 bucks. And unless it's her birthday, don't treat her—that will only make her feel less empowered. Money really is power, and you have to be sensitive to that."
What you can say: "Talking about money is the last taboo," Perle says. "It's like talking to teenagers—never ask a direct question." Get her to open up by discussing your own financial challenges.
What to avoid: Unless she's a responsible person and faced with an unexpected short-term problem—say she totaled her car and needs help with the down payment on a new one—don't loan her money. "Money problems are often about something else; if you take over, you may be solving the wrong problem," Perle says. "Offer support emotionally and help her find a financial counselor." Avoid hindsight advice like "You should have bought an apartment," says Shana (not her real name) from Burlington, Vermont, who is coping with financial problems after a job loss. "We all look back and know what we could have done better."
From the August 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
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