Got Someone Who Borrowed Money, Hasn’t Paid It Back and Is Asking For More? Here’s How To Handle That

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Awhile back, you loaned a friend or family member money. You’ve been waiting for them to repay the funds, but instead, they just asked for even more cash.

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You’re feeling a bit stuck, because you don’t want to offend them, but you’re also not too keen on lending even more money you might not get back.

“It’s important to say no, not only for your own mental and financial wellbeing, but also for the sake of the relationship and the other person’s needed growth and development,” said Joyce Marter, a licensed psychotherapist and author of ”The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life.”

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She said loaning the money is essentially enabling the other person to underfunction.

“In my clinical practice, I’ve seen many people cause themselves financial strain and hardship due to codependency — overcaretaking in relationships at the expense of one’s own health and wellness,” she said. “This often occurs when the other person is dealing with an unmanaged substance abuse, addiction or mental health condition or they are having difficulty growing up and taking responsibility for themselves.”

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If you’re dealing with a loved one who is an addict, Marter recommended considering free and anonymous support through 12-step programs like Al-Anon or CoDA. She said this will help you prioritize yourself and set healthy limits and boundaries — including financial — in this relationship and any similar situations in the future.

Regardless of the circumstances, she said not to blame someone else for your choice to deny the request. For example, don’t claim you’d love to loan the money, but your husband won’t let you.

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“Be honest and take responsibility for the decisions you make,” she said. “This is important for your personal integrity as well as the integrity of the relationship —  [the] ability to trust and have authentic conversations.”

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Additionally, she said taking a direct approach to denying the request won’t cause collateral damage to other relationships.

Despite the boldness of the request, it’s possible you’ll still feel bad about denying it, but Marter said it’s important to prioritize yourself and your own financial wellness.

“This is not selfish, this is financial self-care,” she said. “Just like the case of needing to secure your own oxygen mask on an airplane in the event of an emergency, you need to prioritize your financial wellness or you will have nothing left to give.”

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Marter said to say no in a manner that is kind and true, and keep your response short and sweet.

For example, she said you might say, “I am sorry. I know you are going through a very hard time and I care about you. However, I need to say no. I hope you understand.”

She said a long-winded excuse can inadvertently open the door to further negotiation attempts by the other person.

After this, you need to let go of undue guilt or anxiety, she said.

“Your loyalty needs to be with yourself in order to facilitate mental calmness and financial peace,” she said. “Sometimes saying no actually helps the other person to grow.”

If you need additional support, she recommended reaching out to trusted friends, family or a therapist or counselor. You can lean on these people for encouragement because they truly have your best interests at heart.

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Last updated: Oct. 21, 2021 

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