A good friend of mine recently complained that it was difficult for her to get her money back from friends. She had paid for a summer trip in the Hampton and she had to remind her friends many times for the money, and yet they haven’t paid her back. Let’s call my friend, Yvonne.
Yvonne wanted to ask for her money back, but she didn’t know how to do so. She did not want to be rude nor want they to think that she was mean. She decided to write an email reminding them of the amounts they owed her.
She drafted an email and wrote:
Hope all is well, this is just a friendly reminder of the $ you owed from
hamptons or another prior event …I can meet up when you have the $
available, alternatively you can also send a check to my address at
Please do not take this email in any wrong way, it is cuz I am in debt
myself and needed funds…thx..
I thought that the email was very direct and gave her some suggestions. I suggested that she write in a softer tone and focused more on herself. I revised the email before she sent it out and wrote the following:
I am cleaning up my finances on the Hampton bill. I know that we’re all busy, so this is just a friendly reminder if you haven’t had the chance to pay me back. Please let me know if there are any problems.
I thought that the revised email would be less direct about the debt, and instead, it focused more on the lender and less on the debtors, which were her friends. People with common sense who are receiving that email would understand that they owe someone money and that they should pay the lender back soon. The last sentence in the email is to address those people who are tight on money and allow them to explain why they cannot pay back on time. If they have money issues, they should reply back indicating the reason and then Yvonne can respond back with her comments and decisions.
Asking money back from friends is a very sticky topic, and if not handled properly, it can trigger an argument that puts the friendship in jeopardy. Below are some tips to help with the task of retrieving your money from friends. Good luck!
Tip #1: Let them know politely that they owed you money.
There is no need to be rude in the beginning. The trick is to let them know that you have helped them with the money and that they are in debt to you. The truth is, you did them a favor and they should be grateful that you are reminding them. People with dignity would usually be embarrassed and try to pay you back asap.
One way is to send a polite email to remind them of the amount they owed and allow them to let you know if they have any problems coming up with the money. If they are sincere of paying you back, then you can work with them if they are short on money.
An email is usually a good way to remind someone, because it does not put you face-to-face in front of the person, which sometimes the debtor may take it the wrong way and make sincere lenders feel guilty. The email can also be used as a record/proof.
Tip #2: Try to set the time and meeting Place
Make an effort to meet the debtor, the earlier the better. Friends often say, “I’ll pay you back next time,” but usually they forget about it as soon as they finish the sentence. If that friend is notorious for skipping out on his/her debts, then you need to be a little more aggressive. Let your friend know that you are available before the next time they see you. Offer to meet him/her half-way.
Tip #3: Follow up with the money collection
If it has been a while after you have notified your friend about the money he/she owes you, then you would need to take the next step. The period of time depends on your tolerance level. It could be a week, two weeks, a month, etc.
Now you would need to follow up with your friend. Ask your friend if he/she has read your initial email. Sometimes debtors put aside and forget about the email you sent them asking for money back.
If you decide to send another email, it’s best to send it to the person’s office email address. It is almost certain that the person (debtor) would receive your email. Calling them would be another good option and politely letting them know that you have sent an email to them earlier regarding the amount that they owed you. You should expect an answer as to when they he/she will pay you back, and if necessary, make pay arrangements over the phone.
Tip #4: Show them the receipt or evidence of payment
Let your friend know that you had already for the bill and you have to pay your credit cards. Scan the receipts and/or credit card bill. This shows that you are serious. Money is an issue for you and you had to foot the bill. A good friend will not put financial burden on his/her friend indefinitely.
Tip #5: Make accommodations/arrangements
If the amount your friend owes you is a large amount, then perhaps the amount can be paid back in several installments. Of course, it’s best to receive all your money back at once, but having installments is better than having nothing.
Tip #6: Let them know that know that they are hurting your trust in them
If you friend still doesn’t pay you back after some time or they give lots of excuses, then you could let them know that you no longer trust them and will no longer lend them money again. If the person doesn’t care, then he/she may not be a good friend. Make note to self. Also, let other people be aware of this person.
Tip #7: Document everything
It’s difficult and sometimes very messy to keep track of everything verbally. Take notes and make a list of people who have paid and who haven’t. It’s generally a good idea to check off the person once they have paid you in full, so you don’t go after the same person for money again. This also allows you to keep a record of who pays you on time.
Thoughts: Many people have difficulties collecting money back from their friends. Money is a very sensitive topic and can come break friendships. Be polite and sincere, but firm, to your friend and your friend should pay you back. If he/she deliberately does not pay you back, he/she is not worth to be your friend and you should cut your losses short.