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How To Ask For Money Politely: An Etiquette Guide

Sarah Li Cain4-Minute Read
November 12, 2021

When it comes to talking to friends or family about money, it can feel uncomfortable and strange, especially when you’re asking to borrow money or you’re looking for money you’re owed. The good news is that there are some guidelines on how to ask for money politely so that a potentially uncomfortable conversation won't be as awkward.

Asking For Money As A Borrower

If you need money and want to ask a friend or family member to lend you some, it’s important you approach the conversation in a respectful manner. Here are a few best practices on how to ask someone for money politely.

Be Honest And Open

It is crucial you’re being honest about why you need the money. After all, asking someone to lend you money assumes a certain level of trust between you. By not being truthful about your reasons, you’re breaking their trust. Doing so could mean changing the course of your relationship.

Try to be as open as possible — you can consider talking openly about your current financial situation and why you turned to this person. Being vulnerable about your financial situation is hard, but worth it if it means you’re able to maintain a strong relationship with the person lending you money.

Have A Plan In Place

Coming up with a plan of attack to solve your financial situation is an essential item on your to-do list. You need to show your lender how you plan on spending the borrowed funds, as well as how you plan on paying it back. Doing so will help your friend or family member feel more comfortable with lending you money.

The key is to get as specific as possible. For instance, if you need $700 for a car repair, tell your lender that the money is for that reason. You should also map out a repayment plan, like paying them back $70 a month for the next 10 months. If you’re paying them back interest, outline a plan on how to work that in as well.

Put It In Writing

Once you have a plan in place and both of you agree to it, it’s crucial you have the terms of the loan in writing. That way, it clearly outlines what your and your lender’s roles and responsibilities are, including what happens if either party doesn’t fulfill their side of the agreement.

If you choose to, you can seek the assistance of a legal expert to ensure the written document is legally binding. You can also consider signing it in front of a notary.

Asking For Money As A Lender

When it comes to figuring out how to politely ask for money owed to you by a friend or family member, it can feel awkward. However, it might be essential if your borrower isn’t paying their money back on time, or you’re concerned that it might happen. Here are some best practices you can implement when you lend the money to ensure there are no surprises during repayment.

Set Deadlines And Reminders Often

Setting deadlines for repayment, such as the due date and how many installments the payments will come in with your borrower, is important so you have the expectations laid out clearly. That way the borrower knows exactly when and how much they need to pay you back each month.

You can even take it one step further and give polite reminders about upcoming deadlines. You may want to consider reminding them a week or a few days before the due date. As for how to remind them, a simple email or text message will suffice. Be sure to have these deadlines in writing so everyone knows what to expect.

Be Stern, Not Confrontational

As a lender, you need to set boundaries on the loan. While you want to be considerate of your friend’s or family member’s situation, you also need to make sure the borrower is sticking to the repayment schedule. Being stern is important so you can stand up for yourself — you want your money back, after all. However, avoid being rude or confrontational as that won’t help anyone. There are different tactics for talking with friends versus taking with family about money and financial situations – be sure to research some approaches to make sure you’re getting through without getting harsh.

Practice Communication

Talking about money can be difficult, so get some practice on how to be more comfortable with these types of conversations. That way, if you need to talk to the borrower about repayment terms, and what you’ll do if they don’t pay you back, you’re well prepared.

Some suggestions on how to be more comfortable include talking to other trusted friends and family members about money in general, then progressing to more detailed conversations. You might even want to practice various scenarios with your partner or a close friend, such as when the borrower won’t pay you back.

Accept That You Might Not Get Paid Back

The truth is that you may not get your money back — it’s the reality when lending money to friends and family. To prevent this from happening, get all the borrowing terms in writing to potentially avoid this issue. Like mentioned earlier, consider asking for legal assistance so you know what your rights are in case you have to escalate the matter.

The Bottom Line

Borrowing from or lending money to friends is usually not a simple black and white scenario. As long as both of you approach the conversation as clearly as possible, outline the reasons for the loan, and agree on repayment plans, you’re off to a smooth start. Don’t forget to get all the terms written down so both parties understand what it is they're getting into. If you or your borrower need to pay off debt fast, check out this article on how to help you do so.

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Sarah Li Cain

Sarah Li Cain is a freelance personal finance, credit and real estate writer who works with Fintech startups and Fortune 500 financial services companies to educate consumers through her writing. She’s also a candidate for the Accredited Financial Counselor designation and the host of Beyond The Dollar, where she and her guests have deep and honest conversations on how money affects our well-being.