What To Do When Someone Owes You Money

Photographed by Raven Ishak.
When somebody owes you money, and you actually need that cash to get through the month, a knot can form in your stomach, for sure. It’s uncomfortable and makes you feel vulnerable. But, can asking for the money you need hurt your relationship in addition to your wallet? How, exactly, do you get your loved ones to cough up what they owe you?

Talk In Person
Don’t text, email, or call; it’s all too easy for faceless communication to be taken the wrong way. And said borrower will have a harder time avoiding you face-to-face.

Be Specific
Chances are, your loved one doesn’t even remember that he or she owes you money, never mind the specific amount. Regardless, don’t leave room for doubt. Ask, “When do you think you’ll be able to pay back the $100 that I lent you?” By naming the specific amount, you ensure you're on the same page. Ask for a specific time you can expect to get paid back, too — it'll help keep the borrower accountable.

Related: 3 Pieces Of Unconventional Financial Advice You Need Right Now

Set A Deadline
Some people need multiple reminders. That’s life. If the borrower doesn’t pay you back right away, set a firm deadline. Soften the ultimatum by referring to an upcoming event: “You know, with my vacation coming up, I could really use that money I lent you. Could you please pay me back by Friday?”
Offer Flexibility
If your friend is having a hard time paying you back, or if the amount owed is substantial, offer to break the repayment into smaller chunks.

Pick Your Battles
Sometimes, you have to decide what’s more important: getting your money back or remaining on good terms with your friend. If it’s a small amount, say $10 for cab fare, and you’re in the financial position to do so, let it go. It’s annoying, but pestering over and over again could cause a rift in the relationship.

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