Tell me I’m not alone in this, folks. My husband and I can negotiate a well-reasoned understanding about our division of household chores. But implementing the plan becomes challenging when clouded by our clashing recollections of “whose turn” it is to do certain tasks, making it very easy to forget things that we don’t want to do.
The way I see it, the same principle comes into play when friends loan and borrow money. I surmise that an actual written I.O.U. with outlined terms for repayment is rare. Without documentation, we are left to rely on our casual exchanges, which, like remembering whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher, can be very self-regarding, especially when money is involved.
We all can recite Shakespeare’s warning from Hamlet: “Neither a borrower, nor a lender be.” Few, however, recall the next line that illuminates the admonition: “For loan oft loses both itself and friend.” Borrowing among family and friends is a thorny issue, capable of souring even the healthiest relationship.
A problem with loaning a friend or family member a bit of your hard-earned cash is the flashing mental neon sign over her head detailing the date and amount of the loan whenever you see her. It rankles when you cannot afford to buy that new dress you’ve been wanting since your wallet is a little light due to your untimely, generous loan.
And the kicker—your friend seems happy go lucky. She is having the time of her life on your dime. In fact, it’s as if she doesn’t even remember that she owes you money. Just that quickly, resentment can seize a relationship. An elephant has entered the room and will linger until the debt is either paid or forgiven. Unresolved, resentment will ruin your friendship.
Borrowing a cup of sugar is one thing. But loaning a friend money is a sure way to bake a friendship, if you are not careful. To avoid the angst inherent in making a personal loan to a friend, be prepared. Here are a couple of options to consider:
Option 1: Tell the borrower that the money is a gift with no expectation of repayment. (Mind you, once you pronounce the money a gift, you are not allowed that flashing mental neon sign to impair your vision at your next meeting.)
Option 2: Confess that you are a faithful follower of Judge Judy. If there is one lesson you have gleaned from hours of television, it is that any agreement about borrowing money needs to be in writing. Get an I.O.U.
Option 3: Be honest and kind, but explain you have a hard and fast rule against lending money to friends. They may be disappointed, but in the long run, your friendship will be spared.
I’m here if you need me. Until then, y’all behave.