How To Ask Someone To Pay You Back Without Being Awkward

BDG Media, Inc.

Money matters can be complicated, especially when it comes to loaning someone money. Whether it’s a friend who forgot their wallet when you went to dinner or a friend who was suddenly laid off and is short on rent, it may be hard to say no if they ask you if they can borrow money. You decide to loan them money, but then when you want to be reimbursed, the topic doesn’t come up. So what's the best way to ask someone to pay you back?

Recently Zelle, an app where you can send and receive money, released a new study on consumer behavior when it comes to their person-to-person (P2P) payments platform. They surveyed over 9,000 adults in the United States and found that 28 percent of women stated that they wait until someone sends them money for their portion of the bill rather than requesting the money themselves. However, 65 percent of women want to get paid back immediately when a friend/family member owes them money for a shared purchase, such as concert tickets or a shared meal. In addition, 86 percent of women reported not being paid back after covering a shared expense, such as concert tickets or a meal for friends, with 16 percent of women saying or this happens “all the time.” Sound familiar?

Lending money can put strain on a friendship,” Kathleen Grace, CFP, managing director at United Capital’s Boca Raton, FL branch, tells Bustle. “But if you are like most of us, we sometimes feel compelled to help a friend in need.” She says that if you are considering loaning a friend money, first have the mindset that you may never see it again. “In other words, consider it a gift,” Grace says. “This way, you will not be too upset should you never get all or a portion of the money back.”

But, if you're looking for ways to ask someone to pay you back, as awkward as it may be, there are ways to do it. Below, money experts weigh in with some ideas.


Keep Your Request Short And Sweet

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When it comes to asking your friend or family member to pay you back, Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet suggests keeping your request “short and sweet.”

“They may have simply forgotten that they owe you money,” she tells Bustle. “At the end of a conversation about something else, you can add, ‘Oh, by the way, did you want to pay me back for that money I let you borrow? Venmo or cash works for me.’”

She says that the sooner you remind them about owing you money, the less awkward it’ll be. “And if you are using Venmo, make sure you talk about how much they owe you — no one likes to get an unexpected request for money after the fact.”


Make It As Easy As Possible For Them To Pay You Back

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Melissa Lowry, vice president of Brand and Marketing at Early Warning, the network operator behind Zelle, believes that setting financial boundaries and expectations with friends and family can save your relationships. “If someone covers an expense for you — or you for them — you both want to be paid back as quickly as possible,” she says. “Apps make it super easy to request and send money — it’s totally appropriate to let people know they still owe you — and less awkward.”

In addition to suggesting your friend or family member pays you back via an app like Zelle, Venmo, PayPal, and so on, you can also think of other ways to get them to pay you. “Offer to make it easy on the person by going to their home or work to pick up cash or a check,” Woroch says. “Or, you can provide your P2P payment details if that makes it more simple for the person to pay you back."


Don’t Let Too Much Time Go By

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The longer you prolong asking someone to pay you back, the worse it’ll be. “Try to get the money back as soon as possible,” Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert, writer, and TV personality, tells Bustle. “Otherwise, the IOU can put a strain on the relationship and friends or family may forget, making you feel more awkward to ask.”

She also says that you should never feel bad to ask someone to pay you back. “It’s money that is owed to you that you loaned out of good will with the intention of being paid back,” she says.


Ask Them To Cover A Meal When You're Together Next

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If you want to be a bit more subtle in your approach for being paid back, you can wait until you and your friend/family member are out again, advises Woroch.

“Depending on what the person owes you, ask them to cover you when you are out together for a meal and simply suggest they pay the portion they owe you,” Woroch tells Bustle. “Then, you cover the rest if there’s a balance.” She says that, this way, it’s casual and doesn’t put someone on the spot to come up with cash or a check.


Use One Of These Phrases

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Asking someone to pay you back is not fun, but sometimes being direct and asking face-to-face is necessary. “If you’ve seen no movement on their part to pay you back, just ask,” Grace says. “Say, ‘When do you think I can expect to see a payment?’ or ‘Hey, can you electronically send me the money I lent you?’ or ‘Can we set some repayment schedule for the money you owe me?’”

As you can see, there are some easy ways to ask someone to pay you back. All in all, it may be that the person you loaned money to just forgot that they owe you. “Don’t assume the person is ignoring you,” Woroch says. “People get busy, and if someone forgets to pay you back, don’t be on the attack right away. Give them a chance and call to politely ask for that money to be paid back.”

Although it may be best to avoid loaning people money altogether, if it happens, at least now you have manageable ways to ask for the money back.