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How to Borrow Money from Friends or Relatives (Without Ruining Your Relationships)

How to Borrow Money from Friends or Relatives (Without Ruining Your Relationships)

In the words of William Shakespeare, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” The problem with borrowing or lending money is that it poses a serious threat to your relationships. Borrowing money from family and or friends is especially risky because it puts you in an awkward situation and can easily taint a perfectly good relationship. For example, being in debt to your mother or best friend can lead to feelings of guilt and associated problems when you realize you can’t pay back your debt on time–or at all.

If you care about your relationships, you will try to avoid borrowing money completely. Even if you are able to pay back the money you owe in full and on time, it still can change the nature of your relationship forever. That being said, asking for money from someone you care about is often the surest refuge out of a difficult financial fix. If you must borrow money from family or friends, do it as the very last resort and only for temporary financial shortfalls.

Here are some basic guidelines to help you borrow money from friends or relatives safely without ruining your relationships:

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1. Be honest about your financial situation

Personal finance is a topic that most of us would rather not discuss. But, if you are asking for financial help, it is necessary to show some level of humility and a willingness to be honest about your financial condition. This is necessary because your lenders will want to know how you will use money they give you.

Don’t paint an eternally rosy picture of your financial condition when it is not all that rosy. Explain all the risks involved honestly so your friend fully understands what she is getting into from the outset. Being transparent will also create room for her to be honest too and give you genuine advice.

2. Borrow only for essential stuff

Never borrow money to obtain non-essential things like a new smartphone or to invest in volatile markets like the stocks. Borrowing money to obtain unnecessary stuff is not prudent at all. Your brother-in-law will also not be amused if you ask a significant sum from him and blow it all in a single event, such as a party.

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Ask for a loan from relatives to address real emergencies, such as hospitalizations. If you must borrow to invest, invest in solid things that appreciate steadily like an education or a house. Just be prudent about how you use your loan and make sure your friend or family member invests a comfortable amount, in case things go sour.

3. Put it on paper

Treat loans from family members and close friends just like you would treat any other loan. Put your loan on paper and document the loan terms, principal, interest rate, and repayment frequency. This helps to minimize risk of a misunderstanding in the future and ensures your friend is clear on when to expect repayments and when the loan should be fully settled.

Also, record any provisions for repayment extensions or reliefs in case you are unable to repay your loan as agreed upon. Of course, you can do away with this formality especially where the loan is only a small amount. But, it’s recommended you insist on documenting the loan just to be on the safe side.

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4. Pay up on time

This goes without saying. Once you agree on the loan repayment terms, be professional and stick to them. Pay your loan on time without making excuses. Remember that a personal relationship you turned into a business relationship is at stake here and not just another random relationship.

If your financial situation improves before the loan repayment period lapses, pay off the loan early. This will be a pleasant surprise to your friend or family member and may help you win back some of the “points” you lost by taking the loan in the first place.

5. Maintain communication

If you are struggling with your repayments, don’t run or start hiding from your lender. Hiding gives a bad impression that you don’t intend to repay the money you owe. Maintain communication throughout the life of the loan and be honest and sincere about your situation. Being honest might take away more “points” from you, but it at least allows you to keep some of your honor.

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Resist the urge to get agitated when your friend or relative starts to nag or hound you to pay up. Put yourself in his shoes and imagine how you would feel if you were the one on the other side. You would likely also remind him constantly to pay up. Take it in stride and pay some amount back even if it is only a fraction of what you owe to demonstrate sincerity and ease the tension.

6. Return the favor

Life has a way of turning things on their heads. In time, you may find the friend or relative who helped you out of your financial fix is in need of help themselves. Return the favor extended to you by offering yourself and your resources to help them out. Do this even if you repaid your debt with interest or had incidents when your relationship was strained by the loan. Showing this kindness to others is a mark of maturity and reflects well the favor paid to you—and it was a favor!

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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