December 13, 2011

What To Do When Your Friend Owes You Money

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What is the issue?

Money is a touchy thing, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter if you have a ton of it or none at all, it’s a universally awkward subject. We like to pretend it doesn’t exist, that we’re all on some equal playing field, but we’re not. This is especially true when you’re in your twenties. The people who are fortunate enough to still get help from their parents can live la vida luxury while the less fortunate ones have to consider foot fetish modeling on Craigslist just to survive.

No matter what hand you were dealt, however, certain rules should apply when you borrow money from a friend. We’ve all been there. Hell, we’ve probably been on both sides of the coin, which means that we understand how awkward things can get when they don’t pay you back. In an ideal world, we could all just have the following conversation when we agree to lend money to someone:

The Borrower: Hey, do you mind if I borrowed like 30 bucks from you? I’m sorry, I’m in a pinch, but I’ll pay you right back. I get paid tomorrow!
The Lender: I mean, I really don’t want to but you’ve already seen me withdraw money from the ATM so you know I have it. You’re notorious for never paying me back though. Will you actually pay me back this time?
The Borrower: Um, I can’t promise that. But I’ll try.
The Lender: Okay, well you know I’ll resent you if you don’t, right? Every time I see you spending money, I’ll think, “How do you have the money for new shoes but can’t pay me back thirty dollars?!”
The Lender: Yeah, I’m aware of that. So can I have the money or what?
The Borrower: No. But yes.

Sound familiar? You wish you could be this honest, right? Well, you can’t. Because society said so! What you can do, however, is change your reaction to it. Instead of letting the resentment build and being passive aggressive, you can actually try to get back your money. Here’s how!

1. JUST SAY NO.

Before we delve into your options, I feel like I should at least mention that you could always, you know, just say no to your friend who wants money. Just tell them you have barely any money yourself. Who cares if it’s true or not? It’s too awkward to challenge and the borrower will just let it go. But whatevs. I know we’re too cowardly to do this so I’ll just move on.

2. Remind the borrower only once that they owe you money.

You know what really gets my goat? When you lend money to someone and then you have to become a nag who’s constantly reminding them to pay you back. HELLO, THIS IS NOT YOUR JOB. You did a wonderful thing by helping your friend out. You shouldn’t have to become a bugaboo about something that’s not your responsibility. If I do you a favor, it becomes your job to repay me. If, for whatever reason, you don’t have the money, just say so. At least acknowledge that there is a debt. Don’t hope that the lender has forgotten it because trust me, they haven’t. Be upfront about it. Update them on when you think you’ll be able to pay them back. Chances are the person doesn’t mind getting the money late. They just want to know that you haven’t forgotten about it.

3. Do an activity with someone who owes you money and make them pay for it.

This is my favorite (and most effective and sneaky) way of getting paid back. Let’s say someone owes you thirty bucks and hasn’t paid you back. They stopped mentioning it, in hopes you would just forget about it, but that’s obviously not going to happen. The best way for you to get paid back is to go out to lunch with them, the movies, or maybe even to a concert. Then, when the subject of money is brought up, just say, “Oh, well you owe me that thirty bucks from forever ago. So why don’t you just get this one and we’ll be even?” HA HA. Sucker! You’re trapped! The person has no choice but to pony up the cash. Seeing their crestfallen expression as they say something like, “Oh my god, right. I remember. Perfect!” is gold. Their insides are fuming because they know you planned this. You weren’t going to let them forget and now their wallet is pinned against a wall. Listen, sometimes you gotta be a little manipulative so you can get paid back. It’s not your fault. They’re the ones who forced you into this position!

4. Scream and yell.

If you’re one of the few people who doesn’t care if things get awkward, then you should ignore all of my previous advice and just harass your friend daily until you get the money. Pout, scream, yell. Do whatever you have to do. This approach is so shocking that the person you lent money to will most likely pay you back ASAP. “HERE. JUST TAKE IT! I CAN’T HANDLE THIS HONEST APPROACH!” TC mark

image – ©iStockphoto/ Tomislav Forgo
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