What to Do When Someone Doesn’t Pay You Back

holding money

People say that when you lend someone money, there should be some part of yourself that should be ready when they don’t pay you back. That said, you should only lend an amount that you’re willing to not gain back, especially if it’s a close friend or family member.

However, no matter how insignificant that amount may be, money owed is still money owed. But what if the borrower can’t or outright refuses to pay you back? It’s easier if it was a client that owes you money for services, in which case you can approach a reliable process server to collect the debt. But if it’s someone that you know personally, asking for your money back can be a bit complicated.

Nevertheless, here are some steps that you can take to get your money back:

1. Give gentle reminders

People are busy, and sometimes they forget about the money they owe. Giving your borrower a gentle reminder may be all that it takes for them to pay you back. Try inserting the topic into a random conversation or send them a text. They may have just honestly forgotten about it, so one reminder should suffice.

2. Renegotiate payment terms

When you lent out the money, your friend or family member will have likely promised a date when they will return it. If they can’t pay you back on that agreed date, you can’t exactly force the money out of them for the sake of your relationship. Instead, suggest another date or stagger the amount into something more manageable if they cannot pay in full. Most people will feel ashamed when they can’t pay something back on time, so you might have to be the one to take initiative.

3. Have them pay you with something else


Maybe they have a nice gaming system or a sleek-looking armchair that you would like to have in your possession (and is priced around the same amount of money that they owe you). Ask if they can consider giving you that item instead of paying you back. Of course, some people will be unwilling to part with their belongings, so the keyword here is to ‘ask’, not demand. If they want to pay you back right away, they’ll be more willing to give you what you’re asking for.

Alternatively, have them pay you back with services. For instance, they can do lawn work for you, repaint your house, or perhaps babysit your kids. Or maybe they have certain skills that you can use to your benefit, such as graphic design, writing, baking, or something other. Whatever the case may be, working off debt is a much quicker and easier way to get it over and done with.

4. Get collateral

The collateral should be something that they will want to get back, perhaps a TV or maybe even a car, depending on the size of the loan. Doing this will motivate them to pay you back on time, and you can be sure that do have the intent to return your money.

Of course, this won’t work for all types of relationships. For some people, asking for collateral can come off as you not trusting them enough. But if that borrower is truly in need of money and genuinely intends to pay you back, handing over collateral won’t be much of a problem.

5. Offer to help with financial planning

If the friend or family member that owes you money is bad at managing it, you may not get your money back any time soon. If this is the case, politely offer if you can help out with planning their finances. For instance, if they have trouble with budgeting, suggest a budget plan and budgeting tools that can help them allocate their income better. If they are a big spender and can’t say no to a sale, offer to hold their credit card for them so that they don’t become tempted to spend.

6. Ask to use their credit card

If they can’t pay you back with cash, an option is to use their credit card for the amount that they owe you. Now, this is not the most ethical thing to do since you’d essentially be adding to your debt, but if you need the money now, asking them to buy something for you with their card is an easy way to do it.

Asking for your money back is often harder than it needs to be, especially if your borrower is a close friend or family member. With these tips, however, you can get your money back one way or another, but without causing unnecessary damage to your relationship.

Share on:

About the Author

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top