How do you ask for your money back?

by Erika Torres

hand giving money to another

We’ve all been there. We lend money to someone and they forget to pay you back.

Do you risk looking like a miser by asking for it back? Or do you let it go? Does it depend on who borrowed the money?

Back in February, Eric did a favor for a co-worker and it cost us $80. The understanding was that Eric would get this favor done, but the co-worker would pay him back.

In February, Eric and I were still pretty tight on money. This was pre-$10,000 in savings, pre-paying off student loan debt.

Every month, I would ask Eric: Is he going to pay you back? Has he paid you back yet?

And the excuse was that he hadn’t worked a same shift with the guy in all this time (they work different 24-hour shifts at different stations). Then the excuse became that he was going to leave a check in Eric’s locker (he never did). Then the excuse was that they were going to get together (they never did). I even told Eric to blame it on me and say that his wife is riding the our checkbook’s ass and keeps asking about the money (he wouldn’t).

This guy lives five minutes from us. You’d think he could just drop off a check at our house? Mail it? After five months?

Making it even more complicated is that this co-worker is a superior. While he’s not Eric’s boss, he’s still above Eric’s rank.

I’ve pretty much stopped asking Eric if we will ever get our money back. It’s not like it was $5 or even $20. It’s $80 freaking dollars.

We didn’t get $6k away from being debt free by giving away $80 to anyone who asked.

A part of me gets angry when I think about it. I feel like Eric could be a little bit more responsible with our money. Another part of me is just over it. We’re not destitute and the $80 is not going to make or break us at this point.

What would you do?

Do you ask for your money back even though it’s several months later? Do you let it go? Casually mention it one day “oh hey by the way…remember those $80 I lent you?”

I’ve reminded Eric one last time. But I think I’m done. Most of all, I hate that Eric lending someone money has put me in the position of being a nag. It seems so unfair, I think.


On the Run Tour - What Not to do With Concert Tickets August 5, 2014 - 10:19 am

[…] quick to write about Eric’s money mistakes (he has a penchant for lending money to friends who never pay him back), so when I recently found myself in a money fiasco that was going to cost us more than $1200, Eric […]

lynne @ lgsmash July 30, 2013 - 6:55 pm

We have a similar situation – except it’s a lot more than $80… it’s a few hundred! My husband and I paid for a condo for a ski trip upfront and everyone paid us..except my husband’s best friend. I kept asking about it but I don’t think he’s comfortable bringing it up to him. It’s a hard spot to be in! I’m not sure we’re getting that money back – which really sucks but it’s a hard lesson learned!

Alexis Marlons July 25, 2013 - 8:57 am

I actually lend money to anyone, especially those that I do not know so well because I don’t know how to ask back for it.

Emily July 24, 2013 - 9:49 am

That is such a bummer. I think the hard part is really that the longer it goes, the less likely it would be to get it back. It is also tough that $80 to him might seem like no big deal while it matters to you (as it should!). Does he know how much it was? Paying for something could be mistaken for $20 rather than what it actually cost. I think I would feel like that ship had sailed. I also think it’d make me want to be sure we weren’t scrimping as a couple because one of us paid for something for somebody else. Maybe Eric needs to decide if he’d mention it again/ go out of his way to try to get it back or if he wanted to give something up. Maybe it just sets the standard for next time.

Thomas | Your Daily Finance July 22, 2013 - 4:39 am

Personally I would have never lent it to him. Doesn’t sound like the guy is a close friend but rather someone who just needed money. I have been there and done that and now if someone asks to borrow money I only lend what I am ok with not getting back. This way I dont get upset and it doesn’t mess up our check books. People are that way and I am sure he as spent $80 on garbage instead of paying back. It being a superior makes it even more screwed up.

Isabelle July 19, 2013 - 5:44 pm

I’ve occasionally lent money that wasn’t given back to me soon enough for me, and I always asked for it back. Too bad if I look like I’m cheap, I don’t care. Good accounting makes good friends. I do the same thing with books, I don’t mind lending them but if they keep it too long, I ask for it back.

Budget and the Beach July 19, 2013 - 3:51 pm

I think that’s a live and learn situation, but that guy would never, ever have my trust ever again that’s for sure. I’d be friendly, but not a friend. I think people take for granted that other people consider every dime to be valid…to be something that buys something they value. If this guy thought that way, he’d feel terrible for waiting this long, but my guess is he is either someone who makes so much he doesn’t care, or someone who pisses all his money away carelessly. It’s a sucky situation but I’d try and let it go.

Lizzi July 19, 2013 - 2:41 pm

UGH! How irritating! I HATE being in these scenarios… for some reason, some people feel they can get away with it. I would ask for the money back. I know time has passed, but, it just isn’t fair. Especially how it’s affecting your lil’ family. Good luck, dear!

JW_Umbrella Treasury July 19, 2013 - 1:15 pm

Ugh…this seems like a sticky situation, especially because of the hierarchy aspect. It’s also annoying that this coworkers seems to have so little regard for the fact that he owes you guys money (and not just $5, either!)

Nairobi July 19, 2013 - 12:50 pm

The sad thing is that if you leave 6,600 in yr savings account for 1 yr, you may never gain 80 dollars interest. You will have to earn 1.2% to get your 80 bucks back,

I have learnt the hard way to look at money very differently, however little—80 in groceries can feed you for quite a while.

Remy @MLISunderstanding July 19, 2013 - 10:37 am

That stinks. From your perspective, it was a crappy thing for your husband’s coworker to have done. You’ve asked repeatedly and been put off. At this point, I think it’s unlikely that you’ll recover the $80. Write it off. And write off that friendship (if there was one). If he comes up with the money, consider it a bonus. But don’t trust him in the future.

Ceci Bean July 19, 2013 - 10:16 am

Someone once gave me the advice that you should never lend money you can’t live without. While I might be more hesitant to give, I also don’t have to carry the burden of being angry with whoever owes me money. Let it fall on the borrower to repay you or feel guilty.

Of course, I guess that is poor financial advice. lol.

Debt and the Girl July 19, 2013 - 9:32 am

Sounds like you lost $80. It sucks that this happens but you can take it as a lesson learned. I generally don’t lend money to anyone (except VERY close friends and family) because of this very reason. I have been burned too many times before. Sorry about that.

ND Chic July 19, 2013 - 8:47 am

It doesn’t sound like you are going to get your money back. I guess its a lesson learned. I’ve been in your shoes before with lending money to a friend. Now I only lend if I’m okay with giving them the money.

CeCe @Frugalista Married July 19, 2013 - 8:22 am

Tough situation but $80 bucks is $80 bucks and if that person doesn’t pay it back then he is totally taking advantage and it’s just not fair. Do you know where he lives? Stop by and ask for it. I know it’s bold but I would totally do it because at this point I’d be at the anger point and determined that this person is not going to get over whether it’s intentional or not. Just be all casual like and say I thought I’d stop by to see if I can get it. If now’s not a good time I can come back tomorrow. Pin it down. Eric is not going to push it. Men are like that; plus he probably feels awkward about it. Then he can just apologize for his “crazy wife.”

Lizzy July 18, 2013 - 10:10 pm

This is why I hate lending stuff to people!!! I let them borrow it thinking I will get it back, but they either stop talking to me, give it away or completely forget! I am not a fan of the people who say “Let me borrow x and I will give it back to you as soon as I can” and 5 months later, nothing. I had to take someone to small claims court because he stole my rings, we first had an agreement he could use them then I told him not to but he did anyways, and so he said he’d give me the money for them. I gave him a timeline, which it’s been almost 6 months!, and still nothing. I ended up taking him to small claims court, he didn’t show up, and he lost the case to me and ended up owing me more than the original amount. It’s a pretty big chunk of change too and I want it to pay off bills!

Army Amy July 18, 2013 - 6:51 pm

Hmm. Tough situation. I think the statute of limitations on collecting your $80 has passed. If it was a larger amount (something in the hundreds, maybe) or if you really needed the money, I’d say keep pursuing it. Since that’s not the case, chalk it up to a learning experience. Now you and your husband can talk about how to handle lending and collecting money in the future. (Maybe if the person who agreed to lend the money doesn’t collect it, they have to give up something from the budget? Too punitive? Maybe you lending cap? Maybe a zero lending policy?) But I agree that you shouldn’t have to be the bad guy in this situation. It does suck. Thus the need to head this off so it doesn’t happen again.

I also want to say that it’s kind of crappy that the other guy even asked for the money being that he’s in a higher position. That’s an integrity issue in my eyes. (There’s an enlisted guy in my husband’s unit who loaned money to an NCO. Big no-no!)

Michelle July 18, 2013 - 6:30 pm

Ah that’s a tough situation. $80 is definitely a good amount of money and that would really bother me.

Micah July 18, 2013 - 5:32 pm

Even if $80 isn’t make or break for you, it’s still a good chunk of money. For me, that’s my energy bill for a month. Regardless, it’s pretty crappy of this guy not to pay you back. He really took advantage of yours and Eric’s generosity/friendship.

Nairobi July 18, 2013 - 5:09 pm

I stay away from lending money to people. Especially those that say I’ll pay you back or “let me hold 10 bucks, ill pay you back when I get paid ?’ It’s not supposed to take that long in the first place- I mean if u are employed.. you are not supposed to be that broke!! I’m sure he owes others money too- borrow from Peter to pay Paul.

Lend on to those who have shown good gestures in the past, like help you with gas money, picked up a gift for your kids, bring booze or drinks to the house when having a house party, or even treated you to a movie or dinner.

It’s painful, but let it go or confiscate his cell phone :-0)–for some reason they always tend to find away of coming back to you to borrow more.

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies July 18, 2013 - 5:05 pm

Ugh. I totally know what you mean. I’ve been trying to get $80 back from an event that was cancelled back in December and have just about given up. I’ve heard every version of “I forgot” and “I put it in the mail!”
There’s some consolation that the event organizer burnt the bridge in our town and will never be trusted again… I think there are at least 50 of us out money on this.


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