Sometimes in life we have to have tough conversations, and hands down one of the most awkward discussions can be those concerning money. Especially, if you’ve lent a friend or family member you’re hard-earned cash and they’ve yet to pay you back. There never seems to be the perfect words to start that “Well, I kind of need my money back” conversation.
One of the wisest pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to not lend money at all. According to my grandmother, it’s okay to be a monetary blessing to someone but you should never expect it back. She always said money has a funny way of messing up your personal relationships so only give gifts, not loans.
However, I admit, I haven’t always listened to her wise words. I’m guilty of helping a family member or two, even at times before my own personal needs were met.
Luckily, I’m older and wiser now. I’ve learned a few rules of the “money” game and they haven’t failed me yet. Here are 5 rules I’ve learned about borrowing and lending money, and most importantly how to ask for it back.
1. Don’t let anyone guilt trip you.
Mixing finances and loved ones can be risky so make sure you are giving from you heart. Don’t let anyone force or guilt trip you into your decision. Take time to think about your choice, even if it means giving yourself a few days before you give a yes or no answer.
2. Write a contract.
Both parties should have a clear understanding of how much money is being lent and when it will be paid back. Whether we are dealing with a small or large amount of money, the best way to be “on the same page” is to write and sign a contract. In event of the worst-case scenario, a contract gives you proof to purse legal action.
3. Communicate by phone or in person.
Communicating via text message and email is an easy way for misunderstandings, which can lead to hostility, to occur. When you initiate the conversation, be as pleasant as possible and try asking about what they borrowed the money for. For example, if you lent money to help your friend get a new tire ask, “How is your car running now with the new tire?” Being straightforward, yet pleasant, is the best way for the already-awkward conversation to go best. Also, if they don’t have all of the money at once try recollecting it in installments.
4. Have them spot you during an event.
If months go by and the person has yet to reimburse your cash, don’t go on a yelling and screaming rampage. That will continue to ruin the already tarnished relationship you have with the individual. Try a more sneaky way to have them repay you. Invite the person to lunch or the movies, and when the bill comes ask if they can cover you. Say, “Well you owe me that $40 dollars so if you cover me we will call it even.” This may not work in every situation, but it’s a fun way to try.
5. Don’t bring other people into the situation.
Complaining about your owed money with other friends and family members can perpetuate the problem. You must understand the risk of not getting the money back with you initially give it out. You may be forced to take a loss. However, you should feel comfort in knowing that the next time they ask you for money — because they usually do — you can politely decline.