What to do When Friends Don’t Pay You Back

Learn what to say when friends won't pay.

Trent Armstrong
5-minute read
Episode #100

Today's article comes from another reader email question. We'll take a look at the frustration of the friend who buys all the tickets to an event only to be stuck with the awkward situation of not being repaid.

The Manners of Getting Paid Back

Dear Modern Manners Guy!

I love your podcast, and I have a question. I often coordinate various friends for events like concerts, plays and simple gatherings. A couple of good friends whom I enjoy socially have the habit of being late with the payments of gas or tickets, or simply rounding down the sum to the lower number. Consider a bill of $53 rounded down to 50 instead of 55 or simply 53. In the big picture of life this does not matter, however it makes me feel silly and I am afraid I might develop a slight negativism toward them. How would you advise I talk to them about it?

Dear friend, the first thing to remember in this situation is that friendships come with the good and the bad. Always remind yourself that each of us has faults, including your Modern Manners Guy. Friendships are the strongest when we learn to be patient and have grace with each other.

Manners v. Tough Love

But your real answer has to do with "tough love." Sure, it's reasonable to just approach your friend on the phone or in person and tell them, though they may not understand, they are making you feel silly when they are late paying you back or don’t pay you back fully. Try not to be accusatory when you talk to them, but let them know they are moving down the list of friends who will be invited to the events when they burden you with paying for everything. I'm not even opposed to you just not inviting them any more. When they ask why they weren't included, you can tell them you didn't think they were excited about doing that kind of stuff because you thought their disinterest in paying you back was the result of them trying to save their money for other things.