If you’ve ever lent somebody money and have had to actually ask to be repaid, you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s an incredibly uncomfortable experience. The better you know the person, the more uncomfortable it becomes.
In fact, this isn’t just awkward if you lend a friend or family member money, it can also be something else that you’ve lent (think your favorite sweater) and they haven’t been particularly forthcoming with paying you back.
At a really low point in my financial life, I lent a friend $20 because she forgot her wallet. This is at a time when I was struggling with paying my tuition, my rent, groceries, gas, and insurance, and was in a lot of credit card debt, so every penny counted back then and that $20 leaving my wallet felt like a lot more. She didn’t pay me back right away when she got her wallet, which is what she’d promised. In fact, I began to suspect that she forgot about the money after a few days when she didn’t bring it up.
This put me in an incredibly awkward position, and many people feel the same way. Especially if you aren’t comfortable with approaching them and asking for it back. But aside from the fact that your money is worth asking (you work hard for it!), it’s worth it for a myriad of other reasons, too:
- It sets a foundation for your relationship with the other individual – if you let them take something from you without returning it or paying you back, they may think they can do it again
- If you don’t ask for it back, it gives others the opportunity to use you
- Being bold and asking for something that is rightfully yours will increase your self respect
But the problem is, most of us just don’t know how to approach the subject with somebody who owes us.
Here’s some suggestions on how to avoid that uncomfortable situation and request the money:
If you are introverted or shy and have a hard time asking for things (such as if you have a hard time asking for promotions, etc), try emailing or using social media to ask for it back. If you are still uncomfortable, give them a reason (not that you need one). Use little white lies. For instance, send them an email or text that says:
“Hey! I’m short on cash this week and just remembered that I lent you $x awhile ago”.
Using humor to get through awkward situations is really quite common. Try asking for the money back in a playful way.
That can make the other party feel more comfortable too; it’s possible that they just forgot to pay you back.
Not Directly Asking for Money
I find it a lot less awkward to ask to be paid back if I’m asking in a way that isn’t requesting money. If my friend owes me $20, and we had plans to go out for dinner, I might suggest a place and let them know that they’re paying. I might say something like “We should go here. Do you like that place? Don’t worry about paying me back that money I lent you, just pick up the dinner tab”.
That way it’s not accusatory; you’re assuming that they are also worrying about paying you back, but also reminding them and indirectly getting the money back.
If You Decide Not To Ask..
If you decide that the loaned money is just going to turn into a gift and that you aren’t going to request it back (for whatever reason; maybe the other person can’t afford to pay you back, etc), I urge you to still mention it. Just let them know that they shouldn’t pay you back. At least bring it up.
That way, they’ll know that you didn’t forget and that they can’t just take advantage of you whenever they need cash. It’s easier to take advantage of somebody who seemingly forgets about what they lend, than somebody who clearly remembers but gifts it.
Have you ever lent somebody close to you anything and have had to ask for it back?