Friendship and money often don’t mix
Don’t be a day late or a dollar short.
Money issues can destroy and impair friendships, according to the Friends Again Report, a recent in-depth study from Bank of America that explores the impact money can have on close relationships. Indeed, more than half of consumers have seen a friendship end over money owed, and 43% of Americans would be willing to end a relationship with a friend who hasn’t paid them back.
And it doesn’t take much money to wreck a relationship: One in three people say their breaking point would be $100 or less in unpaid funds, with 4% admitting that $10 or less would do the trick. For 36% of people though, it takes between $100 and $500 to end a friendship.
For Shauna Mehri, a communications director in Los Angeles, repeated spats over money with her roommate caused a rift that lasted three years. “I lived with one of my best friends and she couldn’t pay for utilities but she would come home with shopping bags and hide them from me,” says Mehri. After catching her and confronting her, Mehri would put her roommate on the spot and ask her how much she’d spent. Mehri tells Moneyish, “Once I had to write a check for a thousand dollars and it took her at least a month to pay me back in increments. I had to ask her for the money all the time and it ended up being so dramatic that we didn’t speak for years.”
Since their falling out, Mehri says they’ve reconnected and her friend has shown a new awareness and ownership of her fiscal responsibility. “She’s paid me back for everything and it seems like she’s really on top of her finances now,” says Mehri.
There are things you can do to avoid falling out with a friend over money. For one, don’t be afraid to remind them about paying you. “Chances are, your pal doesn’t even remember that she owes you money, never mind the specific amount,” says financial journalist and New York Times bestselling author Nicole Lapin who wrote Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together. “Regardless, don’t leave room for doubt. Ask, ‘When do you think you’ll be able to pay back the $100 that I lent you?’ By naming the specific amount you ensure you’re on the same page.”
This, of course, is something that stresses people out. More than four in 10 people (44%) would rather discuss family drama, weight, their love life and personal hygiene rather than money, believing it to be a stressor to a friendship. But mobile payment apps like Zelle, Venmo and PayPal are making it easier than ever to ask for money and to settle up on the spot — which may be why approximately one in five consumers say sending money via mobile would improve their relationship with friends.
You should also confront the issue head-on and ASAP, says relationship expert Dr. Melanie Ross Mills: “It can be tempting to to avoid the problem or turn to passive aggressive tendencies, however, the longer you wait to discuss the issue head on, the more difficult it becomes to resolve the issue in a positive manner,” says Mills. It’s also key to try to see the issue from your friend’s point of view — “it’s important to understand everyone’s unique relationship with money,” says Mills — so you can view the issue as something that’s going on with them rather than an affront to you personally.
Even doing all of this won’t guarantee that you’re repaid, so Lapin recommends setting a deadline. “Some people need multiple reminders. That’s life. If the borrower doesn’t pay you back right away, set a firm deadline. Soften the ultimatum by referring to an upcoming event: “You know, with my vacation coming up, I could really use the money I lent you. Could you please pay me back by Friday?” says Lapin.
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