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John Daly


John Daly: Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be

It is aggravating, isn’t it? A friend asks to borrow $10, and never pays it back. Your cousin asks to raid your bookshelf for a good read. Unfortunately, she selects your favorite novel. To top it off, she not only doesn’t return it but says she never borrowed it!

Then, there’s the person who never, ever has the cash to pay his part of the bill in a restaurant. You continuously have to pick up the bill. When you ask for a little payback, he acts offended.

Then, there’s the son-in-law who asks for a small “loan” to get your daughter and him through the end of the month. “Oh, just $1,000 will do it. We’ve hit a bit of a dry spell, and we can pay it back over the next three months.” Yep, you got it. Three months come and go, and no sign of any payback. When you ask your daughter, she bursts into tears, and you swallow hard and lump it.

Starting to feel like the bank for everyone around you? Want to stop others from taking advantage of your good nature and ability to manage your money? Let’s take each one of these situations one at a time from the beginning, and set them up for a better outcome.

Can You Spot Me Ten Bucks?

A friend asks to borrow $10. When this happens, consider whether you can lend the money without expectation of being paid back.

That’s the best way to handle it if you are inclined to provide a small loan like this.

If you can do so, then lend the money. But keep this in mind, if the person borrows the money and never repays you, then the next time he or she asks, just tell that person that you don’t have the money available. If the person pushes you on it, remind him or her that the last time you lent money it wasn’t repaid.

On the other hand, if $10 is something you really can’t lend out without repayment, simply say that you aren’t in a position to lend the person $10. End of story.

May I Borrow This Book?

Your cousin asks to borrow a book. I don’t know about you, but I love to lend books to my family and friends.

However, I have a label that I put on the inside front cover of all of them that simply states, “This book is the property of John Daly.” I’ve found that that label normally prevents my books from not getting returned.

I suggest when someone borrows a book that you let them know the importance of the book to you. I have a friend who even has a small register that she has friends sign when they borrow a book. It lists the title and date and that person’s name when borrowed! That way, she has proof of where her book has gone, and it’s not refutable.

I don’t take it that far, but like the $10, always lend something with the thought that it won’t be returned. If you don’t like that route, don’t lend out your books.

Thanks for Dinner

A friend never contributes toward the bill at a restaurant. There’s an easy answer for this one. Once the two of you have decided to go out, discuss where you will go. Then, state up front that this will be a “Dutch treat” situation, and remind your friend to either bring plenty of cash or a credit card with which to split the bill.

You can do so in a nonhostile manner by saying something like, “I’m going to bring enough cash for my part because I don’t want to load up my credit card.” That way, your friend will know you will only have enough money to cover yourself and can’t rely on you.

If he or she gets all flighty with you about it in the restaurant, simply look at that person and say, “Sorry, I told you I was paying cash. Can’t cover you this time.”

After all that, if he or she somehow manages to wiggle out of paying his/her part, I suggest you stop going out to dinner with that person. Why? You’re being used.

Family Financing

A relative asks for a substantial “loan.” A $1,000 loan is not small potatoes.

If a relative asks you for that kind of money, and you are in a position to provide it, consider drawing up an agreement. In it, state the terms of the agreement. In the case cited above, indicate the agreed amount of money to be repaid over the three-month period, and the day each payment is due.

Have both the son-in-law and daughter sign it. Explain to them that it is always better to agree upfront and in writing where and how the loan will be repaid. Tell them it will prevent hard feelings later.

If they are offended by this procedure, then don’t lend them the money. Just because it is family doesn’t mean you are obligated to lend them the money. If you feel you want to “give” them the money, then do so but don’t expect repayment.

                                                                  •        •        •

The bottom line is to politely stand up for yourself. Don’t let others see you as a pushover and someone of whom they can take advantage. People who “use” other people are not your friends.

Family members may often think that it is OK to take advantage of parents, siblings or other relatives, but it isn’t.

You will be more highly respected in the long run if you are fair but don’t allow yourself to be mistreated.

When in doubt, follow Ben Franklin’s advice. Don’t be a borrower or a lender.

— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for good manners and job search success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or to buy the book.  Follow John on Facebook and Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have an etiquette question? ASK John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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