Budgeting & Banking

How to ask friends for money that they owe you

Asking friends to pay back money they owe you can be pretty stressful. We've got a few ideas you can try to make the process a bit easier and less awkward!

how to ask friends for money

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There’s nothing worse than having to ask to borrow cash from a mate when you’re too skint to feed yourself… oh no, wait, there’s having to ask a mate who you know is also broke for some money back that you lent them! Ugh!

Asking for money from friends can be a horrible and awkward situation, but as much as it makes you squirm, surely it can’t be worse than being out of pocket when you’re already struggling to make ends meet yourself, right?

Our National Student Money Survey found that 14% of students turn to their friends for money, with this rising to 23% in the event of a cash crisis.

So with that in mind, here’s some tips from us on how to approach asking your friends to repay their debts!

Struggling to survive on your maintenance loan? We've got a great guide on how to go about asking your parents for some financial support.

Before you lend your mate any money

should you lend friends money

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Maybe it seems 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 parting with your cash, consider the following factors carefully, as it could save you a lot of future hassle.

  1. Can you really afford to part with the cash?

    Lending money 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, so 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.

  2. Think about why you're lending the cash

    If you’re planning to lend your mate cash 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 – don't do it.

    Although this is incredibly decent of you, you can't make this your primary reason for lending them cash (unless you can honestly say that you won't mind if you never see your cash again).

    Put it this way – think ahead to a situation where your friend is unable to pay you back and you have to continually ask them for it. This could put a whole load of pressure on your friendship and could have a negative impact, so remember the risks involved there!

  3. Why do they need the cash?

    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 refresh their wardrobe, seriously consider whether it's worth parting with your cash – especially if you're already hard-up yourself.

  4. Have they explored their other options?

    We're kind of stating the obvious here, but borrowing money from friends isn't the only solution to a cash crisis.

    Aside from these ways to make money quickly, 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 other sources.

    While they should definitely, definitely avoid payday loans, these payday loan alternatives could see them earning the same money without any of the risk associated with the high-interest loans.

  5. Do you trust this person 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, it's common that they can find it genuinely difficult to stick to money-related promises.

    Do you know if they’ve borrowed from friends before? Did they pay them back? Have a think about this before you commit to anything.

Have a look at our guide to student budget calculators – we'll help you get your finances into good shape!

Asking for your money back

how to ask friends for your money back

Credit: 20th Century Fox

  1. 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.

  2. Drop hints first

    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 “gimme 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!

  3. Highlight your own financial situation

    how to ask for your money back

    Credit: Universal Pictures

    Again, similar to the above 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.

  4. Get it in writing

    Depending on how you prefer to do things, having discussions about lending and borrowing cash can sometimes be a bit easier if you do it through texts or email.

    Not only will this mean you can squirm about the awkwardness behind the safety of your computer or phone screen, but it also means you have everything in writing regarding how much cash is crossing palms and when it's agreed to be repaid.

    You could even propose using an app like Payfriendz, that sends notifications to your friends automatically to remind them when they're due to pay you back – so you're saved that awkward convo!

    Other options would be sending a money request through Paypal or Circle (you get £5 free when you sign up through us!), or if you have Gmail, clicking the currency symbol at the bottom of the message (which links you up with Google Wallet).

  5. Be flexible

    ways to ask friends for your money back

    Depending on the particular situation and 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 installments.

    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.

  6. Add a sense of urgency

    Adding a sense of urgency to your request will help your friend to understand that you yourself are now in a sticky financial situation after lending them the cash.

    Phrases like “I'm sorry to ask this, but I really need that cash to pay an energy bill by the end of this month” would work well (although don't set the deadline too soon, otherwise you could get your friend into a real panic. Give them a bit of notice so they can scrape the cash together first).

  7. Play them at their own game

    how to ask friends for money back

    Credit: ABC

    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.

    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!

  8. Go to 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 that it'll work, but hopefully their parents will be able to knock some sense into them (or better, give you the money themselves).

Save the Student's very own Jake Butler had to go to his housemate's mum while at uni to ask for £100s back. Find out how he approached it, and how successful he was, in our podcast!

Do you have any good tips on how to ask your mates for money that they owe you without it being extremely awkward? Please share them with us!

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