5 Reasons Your Friends Won’t Pay Back That Money You Lent Them


We’ve talked about this before.
The husband and I have actually had more than one of our (many, usual) heated, pseudo-intellectual discussions on this matter (which is I why I suppose he felt compelled to find this piece by the Huffington Post and tag me in it on Facebook!).

Yes, I’ve lent money to people who haven’t paid me back. Some are large sums and not just their part of a bill from drinks or a meal.

Yes, call me a pushover, but I generally feel very awkward asking for money back; it seems so crass and almost…rude to. I only really do it for large sums of money I’ve loaned out, or when I am asking on behalf of someone else.

For most small amounts, I let go.
For my inner circle, we never count the cost. In fact, I am happy to pay for them. (I do know which friends take advantage of this though. And while I strive to be a good person, I am very flawed and very human – I am just not as open with my wallet with these people as I am with my closest ones. True friends don’t try to take advantage of one another.)

Yes, even #4 on the Huffington Post list has happened to me (for the record, I still haven’t recovered all the money; I’ve written it off; we are still friends, but we didn’t talk for months after said friend claimed the money was all returned – and proceeded to have the audacity say I was stingy for asking for the outstanding sum back!).

With all that said, I’m no angel on this matter myself – and it’s really not because of any of the reasons on the Huffington Post list list. It’s for the simple matter that I forget.

And yes, admittedly, it is also because I don’t place it as a priority on top of the many things I need to get done. Now, these are not big sums; they are mostly split bills after a night out or a meal at a restaurant. But it is still not acceptable and it shall be one of my resolutions for 2017: to pay people back in a timely manner.

My granny used to tell me to never borrow money as it ruins relationships.
She did not elaborate beyond that, and it didn’t make sense to me then. I now understand why she said that.

Have you ever lent money to someone who said they are really tight and cannot afford to pay it back, only to see them buying new things, enjoying life at expensive restaurants and worse, going on holidays abroad? Think about how that would make you feel, especially if you are a person careful with your own spending.

I found myself in a conversation once with someone who had tried to borrow a sum of money from a mutual friend. The would-be borrower was actually annoyed that her request had been rejected, on grounds that the other person “is so rich and has so much money”. I couldn’t believe the sort of sense of entitlement I was hearing.

Is this not intrinsically wrong? Everyone gets by and earns money in some way; some end up richer and some have less. Perhaps the richer one got so by working extra hard; two jobs, maybe, while the one who has less decided time and enjoying life is more valuable and chose to work less and play more. Is it fair then to expect the richer person to always willingly give lend hard-earned money?

I am by no means rich, but I have seen too many cases of my granny’s words come true that I have stopped lending large sums of money out to people, no matter what my relationship with the person is.

Unless someone is dying, everyone should work hard, earn their own money, and most importantly, live within one’s means.

My family is your typical, HDB-dwelling, middle class Singaporean one. Both my parents worked to support us – and both are still working. We led simple lives as we were not rich, but neither were we in the poorhouse – although sometimes compared to my friends while growing up, it almost felt like we were. We were taught that most things in life were luxuries, not everyday items and definitely not necessities.

Soft drinks were luxuries. (I tasted my first Coca Cola in Secondary school.) New books were luxuries. (We were taken to the public library weekly.) Toys and candy were definitely luxuries.

So it’s been drilled into my head from a young age that a person doesn’t need a lot to be happy – and that living beyond what one can afford is unacceptable.

I’ve been brought up with the mindset that borrowing money in general is taboo – and that borrowing simply to upkeep a certain lifestyle is terrible. I have never done that before, but it also doesn’t excuse my tardiness in returning small sums of money owed to friends for meals and drinks!

So in 2017, perhaps we could all strive together to not only live within our means and not put relationships in jeopardy (or loved ones in a spot) by asking to borrow money, but to also make the effort to prioritise returning any money owed – no matter how insignificant the amount.

I’ve said it here to commit myself to making it happen as well – no more procrastinating on making that transfer!

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