Life Skills: How To Ask For Money That Is Owed

By Susan Moskop
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) We all know it can be a delicate subject (asking to be paid back). Savings expert Lisa Rowan and Erin Lowry, Author of “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together” have a few suggestions on how to get the job done.

Chicago Tribune

Q: It’s the end of the month, and you’re taking a look at your finances and realize you lent out money without ever getting repaid. How can you gracefully ask the borrower to pay you back?

A: Set a deadline for when you expect the person to pay you back. For example, when he or she gets a paycheck next. Once the deadline hits, give a couple of days of grace period.

If they haven’t reached out within three days, say, “Remember it’s the deadline and you owe me,” or, “Can you Venmo me please?”

An upcoming event is an alternative to having a confrontation. Before the bill comes, even before sitting down, give a heads-up and say, “We’re going to meet at 7 p.m., and it’s your turn to pay,” or, “I got lunch last time. Can you get it this time?”

For larger amounts, start with a phone call establishing a plan to pay back the money. If calling doesn’t work, switch to email so you have a written agreement.

Bottom line: Never give out money that you’re going to miss.
-Lisa Rowan, writer and savings expert at The Penny Hoarder

A: Be direct and honest. These days, it’s easy to hide behind the passive Venmo bill and not have a direct face-to-face conversation.

Payment requests are easy to ignore and not everyone gets the notifications on their phones. If you can work it into a direct interaction by asking for a Venmo or PayPal to be sent, that’s always best.

Explain yourself to the borrower by saying, “Remember a couple weeks ago when I spotted you $20 at the bar? Do you happen to have that on you today?”

For small amounts, while it’s always within your rights to ask for your money back, do a cost-benefit analysis. Is the pain of the conversation worth $5 to you?

But if it’s $50, and you’ve worn yourself out asking for it back, that’s a risk you took and you shouldn’t lend the person money again.

-Erin Lowry, Author of “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together”

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