Whew. This week is a doozy! A friend asked me for advice on how to handle it when friends owe you money. Now, growing up I was always told "Don't mix friendship and money" but the truth is, that's really hard advice to follow. If you're selling a car and your friend wants to buy it, are you really going to turn them down because you'd rather sell it to a stranger? Of course you're not.
So. For whatever reason, a friend owes you money. First, decide if you really need the money back. If, for instance, you were out for lunch and your friend only had AmEx and the restaurant only takes Visa, and you say "Oh, don't worry, I'll pay for it" and your friend swears they'll pay you back after payday but then they forget, that's a pretty easy debt to dismiss. But if, as mentioned above, your friend is buying a car from you and is behind on the payments, that's pretty hard to let slide.
Start up gentle and amp the pressure up. The next time you see them in an appropriate situation, casually mention the money and give them the chance to pay you. Maybe they were already planning to. If that doesn't work, you'll probably have to call or e-mail them and say something like this:
Hey friend! Just wanted to remind you that you're three months behind on the car payment. According to my records, you still owe me $2000. I know things are tight so I'm willing to work with you on this. We can change the monthly payment or when it's due if you need. Let's talk about it.
Adjust as needed to fit your particular situation. But do try to be flexible if you can. Of course, things may be just as tight for you, so you may need to be a little more firm:
Hey friend! Just a reminder that you still owe me $500 for your share of Jill's bachelorette party. That's $200 for the hotel, $100 for dinner, $100 for the limo, and $100 for the sexy fireman. Let me know if your math is different. Either way, we had agreed you'd pay on the 10th and it's now the 18th. Please get the funds to me ASAP! Thanks!
One important note: Keep the money dispute between you and the friend in question. Please do not drag it out at group gatherings. I once witnessed a very messy friendship-breakup over money where they kept bringing it up at social gatherings until they had to be asked not to. That's an awkward situation for everyone involved.
That's it for this week! Remember that you can E-Mail Me if you'd like your own Politely Worded way of handling your problems.