What It Feels Like to Lend Money to a Friend

Logan Sachon: Matt Powers, hello. Hi. Mike Dang is travelling so you and I are going to have a conversation about something about money. You just treated me to Thai food because I bought you drinks last week, so maybe we’ll start with that. FRIENDS AND MONEY. To set the scene, we are sitting across from each other with our laptops at your kitchen table eating Skittles and Sour Patch Kids.

Matt Powers: We are eating these directly off my table, and my table is definitely not clean.

Logan: Can we light this mahogany and tobacco scented candle to SET THE MOOD?

Matt: That’s my roommate’s candle, from a speciality shop in Arkansas, and while he is normally mild-mannered, burning even the slightest wick of that candle would send him into an unforgiving rage.

Matt: Also hurry up I’ve almost finished the Cherry Sour Patch Kids. Last call.

Logan: You take them, kind sir, they are yours. As for the candle, my apologies. It was so indelicately placed atop an empty Pocket Thins bag and next to an open and crusted container of hummus, you can see my mistake in viewing it as FAIR GAME.

Matt: It’s part of our apartment motif: “expect the unexpected.” Everything you see before you is intentional.

Logan: So we really can’t light the candle?

Matt: I’m going to need you to stop with the candle. My roommate may be sleeping but even the slightest whiff of tobacco and mahogany would incense his more maligned sensibilities and precipitate a murderous rage.

Logan: Okay. Okay. Okay. No mahogany. No tobacco. No candle. So Matt what I actually want to know is, do you feel like our friendship is equal? 

Matt: I think, like any friendship, it’s a constant give and take, and like any quality friendship, no one’s keeping score, nor does the score matter.

Logan: So that’s a yes? I’m going to read that as a yes. You’ve lent me money before. Do you remember that?

Matt: I do. You repaid it, in a very timely manner, and with very generous interest that I told you was unnecessary. But I think it was covering some sort of bar tab. I would love to loan you money again in the future.

Logan: Oh I didn’t give you cash back? That’s gross of me. I believe in paying back in the original form. So if you borrow cash, you return cash. If you owe someone a drink, you buy them a drink–you don’t give them money for a drink. So if I didn’t give you cash, that sucks.

Matt: No no you handed me a twenty and four or five ones, and we just happened to be at a bar, and then I, on my own volition, immediately used that to cover my bar tab. So it felt like a free night of drinking, because once I lend or spend money my brain immediately assumes it is gone forever, so when I get something back, my brain immediately assumes I have won some sort of prize. My brain is very dumb.

Logan: No your brain is totally right!

Matt: Hear that brain? You’re alright!

Matt’s Brain: I like eating ~snowcones~!

Logan: Have you lent money to friends before?

Matt: I have lent money to people. Friends are usually reliable to get you your money back—I can’t remember anyone outright stiffing me. But I do think the lending money relationship is one of the biggest stressors in our Western civilization. When someone asks you to lend them money, our society dictates that it is rude to say no. So you feel pressure to say yes, unless you are absolutely strapped for cash. On the other side, our society also says it’s rude to then ask that person for your money back. You seem almost greedy, or singularly-minded when you ask someone to pay you back. There is no right way to do this. Even when it goes perfectly, both sides still feel dirty.

Maybe this is just me, but I hate having to remind people to pay me back. When it starts getting into months, these people aren’t going to suddenly remember if they haven’t been checking in with you, updating you on their plan to pay you back. Which rarely if ever happens anyway. So even though Western society has made so many things so much easier, like the unique cosmopolitan thrill of enjoying rich Arkansan mahogany smells with delightful pita bread, it has yet to iron out this lending money to friends dilemma.

Logan: Well I’m glad to hear that your friends have not outright stiffed you, but you having to pressure them to pay you back doesn’t sound that great either! I’m in no great hurry to pay back most of my creditors, but the ones that are actual humans, yes. I’m very wary of the stress about money, and don’t want to mess up relationships.

Also, who are these friends you are always lending money to??

Matt: I wouldn’t say I lend a lot of money, just when I do it, this social faux pas, or the potential of it, stresses me out. It can be anything from lending straight cash or waiting for a payback on a utilities bill or squaring up concert tickets. With most friends, buying drinks and meals for them is totally easy and laid-back, because then in the future they will cover you. This is one of the beautiful tenants of friendship. But when lending gets into these more nebulous areas with more nebulous acquaintances, that’s when disharmonious things can crop up.

Logan: Wait so when I asked you to lend me $20, were you worried that you wouldn’t get it back? Or that you’d have to bug me about it? Did I make you uncomfortable by asking?

Matt: No I wasn’t worried, because this is the first time I’ve ever lent you money, and I knew you were good for it. If I had lent you some in the past and you had dragged your feet or forgotten a lot and I needed to remind you, I definitely would have been more stressed. But you paid me back super quick, so there were no issues.

Logan: I can’t remember how I asked you, exactly. I remember I was housesitting and you’d come over the house, and I didn’t even have enough money for subway fare. I asked  you for $20 I think, and I remember you saying, “Did you invite me over here to ask me for money?” And it being funny. Because … OF COURSE NOT. But …. MAYBE?

Matt: I remember that house, because there was the dog that liked you way better than it liked me. I really hate that dog.

Logan: The dog is only human.

Matt: I would have never lent that dog money. Not for anything. No way, no how. I don’t care what anyone says. I wouldn’t do it.

Logan: So do you have an idea of what friends owe you drinks right now?

Matt: Oh, I have no idea. I think all that stuff equals out over time anyway. I’m sure I owe people plenty of drinks, too.

Logan: I think we’re pretty much even?  But I actually have no idea and don’t even care. The only way I’d know is if I felt indebted to you. I’m aware when I owe people things, and I think about it, and I don’t like it. Which is why I’m usually quick to cover a tab, or one of the reasons. Do you have anything else for us to talk about? It doesn’t have to deal with anything.

Matt: Do you have any more scathing critiques of my interior design sense?

Logan: No. I mean I’m sure I could go on, but now I’m kind of grumpy because the the candy is gone.

Matt: There’s some Baby Ruth left. And a single red Skittle. Right there. Eat them before they become part of the decor.

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9 Comments / Post A Comment

navigateher (#555)

I really expected to see a tag for “human dog”. Otherwise, excellent chat! Not that there’s anything wrong with Logan & Mike’s chats, but the dynamic is so familiar now that it’s great that other people are featured for variety. I don’t know if any of the sentences I just wrote make any sense because I’m pretty much drunk from drinking some kind of award-winning delicious German beer. I would definitely lend money to you right now, Logan.

the only debts I can think of outstanding for me are …

$15 from a coworker for scotch we bought my boss
$20 i owe my mom because i don’t remember why but I keep forgetting about this one!

if I don’t repay stuff right away or write it down, I will definitely forget – that goes both ways. although I’m pretty good about paying it back immediately because I know the limits of my memory. But it absolutely PAINS me to remind people they owe me money. PAINS. ME.

@redheaded&crazy i lied i remember why, it’s because i didn’t have enough money to go bar hopping on halloween or time to go to a bank.

~best daughter ever~

theotherginger (#1,304)

@redheaded&crazy hahaha. I just reminded a friend yesterday she owed me money. It was awkward. If she reads this comment, and bc of my handle, will know it was me, then it will be funny.

ghechr (#596)

When I lend money to friends, I always just assume that I won’t get it back. I consider it a gift. Of course, I have never lent anyone a significant amount of money- like more than $50. So I’m like Matt, I guess, if I get money back I’m like “woo! jackpot!” and if I don’t I just ignore it. I suppose that if I had a pal that was ALWAYS asking for money or whatever I’d get pretty tired of it.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@ghechr I think it’s one thing to buy a friend coffee, and then they invite you over, etc, etc, and then another if your friend is perpetually broke and relying on friends to rectify the situation

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@theotherginger thisthisthisthisthis!!!
I’m totally fine with lending a little here and there if I know they’re good for it, but perpetually broke friends who spend more time whingeing about their situation than they do on rectifying it themselves do not deserve my money and lose my respect (but they do, of course, get a few chances – after all, they are my friends).

I once lent my friend and flatmate $70 for rent. The next week she hadn’t mentioned anything about repaying me, so I brought it up myself and she promptly repaid it (I have no doubt she would’ve, but I was a bit bummed that she didn’t get in first).

We’ve lent money to my BF’s friends, with varying results. I’m also owed a LOT of money by another of his friends that we used to live with and never paid his share of the bills.

My philosophy now is not to lend anything I can’t afford to give, and treat the loan as a gift.

Ellie (#62)

I lent a somewhat significant amount of money (not, like, a huge amount, but like half of my rent amount) to a friend pretty recently. I felt weird about it but did it anyway – I lent her a little more than she asked for too. She paid me back quite promptly. I did subscribe to the rule “If you lend a friend/family member money, just assume you won’t be getting it back” and decided I would be ok if I didn’t get it back. The weirdness I was worried about was that she’d feel bad interacting with me until she had paid it back, which I didn’t want to happen – though she’s not the most awesome stay-in-touch-er ever anyway. But it turned out OK and I’d do it again.

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