How to ask friends to pay back money they owe you
Asking friends to pay back the money they owe you can be pretty stressful. With the tips in this guide, you can make the process much easier and a lot less awkward.
There's nothing worse than having to ask a mate to borrow money from them when you're skint… except maybe asking someone for money back that you'd lent them.
Asking for money from friends can feel pretty awkward. But as much as it makes you squirm, it's definitely not as bad as being out of pocket when you're already struggling to make ends meet.
With that in mind, we've put together some tips on how to approach asking your friends to repay their debts.
Should you lend money to friends?
It might seem a bit late to be discussing this now if you've already lent your friend some cash. But, just think of these as tips for future reference (or skip further below for tips on how to get your money back).
Before lending friends money, it's important to consider the following factors:
Can you afford to lend someone money?
Lending cash to friends can be particularly tough if you're a student. It's hard enough to support yourself on a Student Loan, never mind having to help others. Don't feel under pressure to dish out cash if you don't have the budget for it.
Unless you've agreed on a repayment deadline, you have no idea exactly when your mate will be able to pay you back. You have to be sure you're in a situation where you'll be able to survive without that cash for a relatively long time.
Think about why you're lending the cash
If you're planning to lend your mate money solely for the purpose of showing them that you care, that you value their friendship and want to make sure they're okay, our advice would be not to do it.
Although this is incredibly decent of you, you can't make this your primary reason for lending them cash. That is, unless you can honestly say that you won't mind if you never see your money again.
Think ahead to a situation where your friend is unable to pay you back and you have to continuously ask them for it. This could put a whole load of pressure on your friendship and have a negative impact. Remember the risks involved there.
Why do they need the money?
We can all agree that it's probably ok to lend your mate a few quid to help them pay the rent. But is that why they're asking you for money?
If they're just looking to spend the money on a night out, or buy some new clothes, seriously consider whether it's worth parting with your cash. This is especially true if you're already hard-up yourself.
Have they tried other ways to earn money?
We're kind of stating the obvious here, but borrowing money from friends isn't the only solution to a cash crisis.
Your friend has a few options. Point them in the direction of your university's money advice service. They could be eligible for funding from the uni's hardship funds, or even some bursaries and scholarships that they weren't previously aware of.
They should definitely avoid payday loans. There are alternative funding options that could help them get their bank balance looking healthy again without any of the risks associated with high-interest loans.
Do you trust them to pay you back?
As we're talking about friends here, it's likely that you'll automatically believe you can trust them to pay you back… because they're your mate.
But remember that if someone is particularly bad with money, they might find it genuinely difficult to stick to money-related promises.
Do you know if they've borrowed money from friends before? Did they pay them back? Have a think about this before you commit to anything.
Asking for your money back
Here are the best ways to ask for money back:
Don't get confrontational
If you really value your friendship, then don't get confrontational when asking for your cash. You might be annoyed that it's come to this, but you could end up waving goodbye to your friendship as well as your cash if you're rude about it.
You've obviously got a kind heart and a compassionate nature if you offered to lend the cash in the first place. Remind yourself of this, as you're much more likely to emerge from the situation unscathed if you manage to keep a cool head about it.
Drop hints about needing money
No one likes asking for money, and it's safe to say that no one likes being asked for it either. Although you might not see it this way, it's equally stressful for both parties, so the less painful you can make it, the better.
Rather than coming straight out with the "give me my money back" bombshell, try dropping a few hints here and there first. Something like, "Sorry, I can't come to the pub tonight, I'm too skint."
If your friend is sharp enough, they should be able to pick up your hints and you can avoid having that dreaded conversation altogether. Worth a try!
Highlight your own financial situation
This is similar to the above point in that you can make your friend more aware of your own situation and encourage them to be a bit more empathetic.
If you're both students, surely they'll understand that surviving financially isn't easy on you, either.
Ask for money back in writing
Depending on how you prefer to approach situations like this, having discussions about lending and borrowing cash can sometimes be easier if you do it via text or email.
This means you can squirm about the awkwardness behind the safety of your computer or phone screen. But you'll also have everything in writing, regarding how much cash is crossing your palms and when it's agreed to be repaid.
You could even try sending a money request through PayPal or if you have Gmail, clicking the currency symbol at the bottom of the message (which links you up with Google Wallet).
Be flexible about receiving money back
Depending on the circumstances of your situation, like how much money it was that your friend originally borrowed from you, it might make the situation a bit less stressful if you suggest they repay you in a few instalments.
This way, you can start seeing at least some of your cash again. And it will show your friend that you really are sympathetic towards their situation. Win-win.
Add a sense of urgency
Adding a sense of urgency to your request will help your friend to understand that you are now in a tricky financial situation after lending them the cash.
Phrases like, "I'm sorry to ask this, but I really need that money to pay an energy bill by the end of this month", would work well. Don't set the deadline too soon, though, otherwise, you could get your friend into a real panic.
Give them a bit of notice so they can scrape the cash together first.
Ask them to cover your half of the bill
This is a bit of a cheeky one, but it can work a treat.
We would suggest that the next time you're out in a bar or restaurant with your debtee, ask them to pay your share of the bill since they owe you some cash. This doesn't just work for eating out – it can work when you buy drinks on a night out or tickets at the cinema.
Put it simply as a case of you having no cash on you, and since they owe you money anyway, would they mind paying your share? Easy!
Ask their parents
This is a bit of a last resort. But if you're getting desperate and you think the amount of money you're owed is significant enough, contacting the guilty party's parents could finally put the issue to rest.
Nobody wants to be known as a tell-tale. But, when someone owes you hundreds of pounds and is showing no signs of paying it back (or, at the very least, any signs of trying), they kind of deserve to get a telling off.
It might do some permanent damage to your friendship (if one still exists at this point), and there's no guarantee it'll work. But, hopefully, their parents will be able to knock some sense into them (or better yet, give you the money themselves).
Not sure if this would work? Save the Student's very own Jake Butler had to go to his housemate's mum while at uni to ask for £100s back. He spoke about his experience in our No More Beans podcast.
Here are some great ways to make extra money if your mate still hasn't coughed up and your purse strings are feeling tight.