How to Help a Friend...
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.