About three-and-a-half months ago a girlfriend of mine was laid off and had asked to borrow a large sum of money from me. Naturally, as any concerned friend would, I felt sympathetic and wanted to help in anyway possible. So without further thought I went to my bank and made a withdrawal of the requested amount. I genuinely felt like I was doing the right thing as I counted and placed the money, licked and sealed the envelope; I even wrote her name on it with a heart at the end. A few hours later I met up with her at our favorite coffee shop and the money was lent. No questions asked. This was the easy part.
Almost three months later, four birthday parties, two shopping sprees, a cottage trip and numerous coffee dates and I still hadn’t received a penny of what was owed to me. This is the hard part. I began slowly getting really frustrated when my own budget started to get tighter. As my financial responsibilities grew, the more and more I kept thinking over and over, day in and day out about the money she owed me and how helpful it would be. And it’s not like you’re investing any money when you lend money to a friend, so that’s money out of your pocket for x amount of time. And it’s true when they say money ruins friendships because I was put in a position where I actually resented being around her. I would avoid hanging out with her because all I could think about was how she can afford to socialize so much if she’s in such desperate need of money? Collecting IOUs are never easy.
So I ended up telling my other girlfriend (who also happens to be related to her) the whole situation. I vented for two hours and finally together we devised a plan that we had thought (at the time) would be a great solution. Boy, were we ever WRONG. The idea was that girlfriend “X” would tell girlfriend “Y” that I borrowed money from girlfriend “X” and that rather than paying her back myself, girlfriend “Y” would pay off my new debt as she already owed me. And girlfriend “X” being a family member had no problem asking for the money. At the time it made a lot of sense but it also goes to show how complicated things were getting simply over money.
My friend was so confident that our plan would be successful that she even gave me the money that my other friend had owed me so that our story was actually, somewhat in reality, true. At this point I thought things would go back to normal but I was wrong again! Apparently, because these two are related, my friend just assumed she had a lot more time to pay off the debt and was now playing the same game with my other friend. This whole ordeal caused a huge fight between the two and in the midst of arguing my friend tells the other one that we had to make up a lie so we could get the money because “WE” think she’s a terrible and irresponsible person. My other friend obviously gets super offended and says that if I had an issue with her I should have addressed it with her rather than going behind her back and that the only terrible person is me.
So let’s recap…shall we? I lend a friend money thinking I’m being a good person and that nothing bad can come out of it, my friend for some reason seems to forget the debt and continue to party, I was in need of money myself so I figure out a way to get the money back and now I’m in the middle of a family feud and three friendships have been tainted.
To make a long story short, we ended up having a group meeting and communicating our thoughts with each and one thing we all agreed on is how problematic lending money to your friends can become. And personally after this experience I’d like to say NEVER lend friends money but if you MUST then you have to set solid terms. You can’t be a pushover when it comes to stuff like this and communication is key!
NEW RULE: If you can’t communicate and agree on a repayment plan then you shouldn’t be lending money in the first place. Save yourself the hassle.
Have you ever had a bad experience lending friends money? If so, how did you solve the problem and will you ever lend again?