Saying no isn’t easy, but it’s better than making the mistake of lending money to friends or family members. These tips on how to say no when someone asks to borrow money will help you kindly, firmly, and gently decline their request.
“Give yourself permission to say no without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish,” says Stephanie Lahart, author of Overcoming Life’s Obstacles: Enlighten – Encourage – Empower. “Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say yes all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say no without having to explain yourself.”
These tips for saying no when someone asks to borrow money are inspired by a reader. Here’s her question: “I already lent my ex-boyfriend almost $700 about 6 months ago,” says Mariah on How to Deal With Money Stress After a Breakup. “He hasn’t paid me back. The money he makes is not enough to pay his bills school loan, unexpectedly high utility bills, car payments, rent, supporting his parents, etc. He is now asking to borrow $5,000 to help him pay some of his debt so he can get adjusted and financially organized. I want to help him even though we broke up, but he hasn’t paid back the other money I lent him. How do I say no when he asks to borrow money?”
Sometimes the most obvious answer is the hardest: “No, I’m sorry, I can’t lend you money.” Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Don’t allow guilt or emotional manipulation to creep into your decision. Below, I share a few more tips on how to say no when someone asks to borrow money – but I encourage you to go with the short, simple answer: “I’m sorry, but no. I can’t lend you money.” You might even add “….because I’m tapped out right now.” And prepare to keep repeating it to both yourself and the person asking for money.
Here’s a list of reasons Mariah should say no to her ex-boyfriend’s request for money:
- He already borrowed $700 from her, and can’t pay it back.
- She doesn’t have a contract for the first $700 she lent him, so she’s out of luck if he denies borrowing it, refuses to pay it back, or simply doesn’t have the money.
- Five thousand dollars is a huge amount of money! It’s not $50 to buy groceries, which most lenders can afford to lose.
- In this case, lending him money is not a solution. It is a short-term band-aid that will not help him in the long run.
- Her gut feeling is telling her she should say no to her ex-boyfriend, but she feels guilty. She’s letting him manipulate her.
Tips for Saying No When Someone Asks to Borrow Money
One reason I believe money should almost always be kept separate from relationships is because I watched Judge Marilyn Milian for years. She adjudicated (judged) cases every day that involved ex-partners suing each other over loans that weren’t paid back. The money wasn’t repaid for a variety of valid reasons. Most often, it was because the borrower (mostly really nice people with good intentions!) simply didn’t have the money to repay the loan.
If you decide to say yes when someone asks to borrow money from you, read How to Protect Yourself While Loaning Your Boyfriend Money.
1. Repeat yourself firmly, kindly, and gently
“I’m sorry, but no. I can’t lend you money because I just don’t have enough to spare.” Keep repeating that sentence; maybe add a twist once in awhile: “My money is spoken for.” You don’t have to lie. Keep it simple. “I can’t afford to lend money.”
Prepare yourself to repeat your words over and over. Don’t embellish, lie, or add to them. Just say it again and again. Whether it’s $50 or $5,000 or $50,000 is irrelevant. Whether or not you have the money doesn’t matter! It is your money; you get to decide the best way to use it.
Other ways to say no when someone asks to borrow money:
- “I wish I could help you out – and I love you – but a $500 loand is not in my budget.”
- “I know how hard it is for you to ask to borrow money, and I’m honored that you trust me with this. But I’m sorry. I can’t lend money to you.”
- “Ask Uncle John. He has lots of money.”
When you’re saying no, try not to fall into the trap of explaining yourself. It’s not a debate, argument, or discussion. All you have to say is, “No, I can’t help you with this.”
Love does not mean you should say yes to everything that is asked of you. The key to saying no when someone asks to borrow money is to separate money issues from your emotions. Don’t allow your friend or family member to guilt or emotionally manipulate you into lending money.
2. Offer to help in ways that don’t involve borrowing or lending money
What else can you do to help someone who wants to borrow money? Instead of getting into a debate or argument about why you can’t loan friends or family members money, ask how you can help in other ways.
There are other ways to support someone in financial dire straits, depending on his situation. Some people need budgeting help, others need help creating and sending out resumes.
The best way for Mariah to help her boyfriend is to help him find a financial planner, investment advisor, or some type of “money mentor” who can help him organize his income and expenditures. He needs a long-term solution to his money situation – not a short-term loan that will create more financial problems in the long run.
3. Expect disappointment and even anger
The hardest part of saying no when someone asks to borrow money is the possibility of damaging or even losing the relationship. Your friend or family member is struggling financially; it’s hard to just let them suffer. They’ll he disappointed, angry, and hurt when you say no. No matter how kind and gentle you are – how loving and nice – the fact is that hearing “no” is hard.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is the right thing. Sometimes, the fact that it’s difficult makes it right.
You want to support and love your friends and family members, but that doesn’t necessarily mean lending money when they ask. In fact, lending money could prolong their financial problems and prevent them from learning how to handle their finances wisely.
Instead of contributing to the person’s financial mess, learn how to manage money together. Read and discuss Dave Ramsey’s financial makeover system, starting with The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. It sounds kind of nerdy, but learning how to manage your money together can be helpful for both of you.
Instead of lending money to someone who is having financial problems, learn together how to manage finances.
Saying no to friends or family members asking to borrow money is hard, and the truth is you might not be able to say no without damaging your relationship. However, loaning them money is almost guaranteed to damage the relationship. You’ll also be financially poorer, at least for some time.
If you’re a parent, read Should You Loan Money to Your Adult Children?
What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts – big and little – below.