How to Politely Remind a Friend to Pay You Back

As broke (and therefore cheap) college students, we’ve all been there. We have lent money out of convenience, maybe to pay for a taxi to Destiny or an Uber home after a night out. Sunday night rolls along and the dining hall is closed so your friend agrees to go in on Chinese food with you… and forgets to pay you back….

This is a tough situation to be in because you don’t want to seem cheap, but all that money does end up. And sooner or later, you’re rummaging for pennies in your stuffed backpack so you can pay for your laundry.

There are three ways you can approach this without making your friends feel attacked.

  1. The straight up “I need money for food/laundry/dues/clothes/groceries… do you have the five dollars I lent you last week?” This method usually surprises the receiver because they usually ( and hopefully) just forgot to pay you back. A common response is “of course!” However, the downside to this approach is that it might embarrass them.
  2. You can make it seem like it’s their idea. The subtle hint-dropping works best here, but does not always yield results. A common way to drop hints is to say something like “I am running out of money and so many of my friends owe me money but I keep forgetting to ask for it back”.
  3. The classic “I got the last one, so do you got the next one?” This scenario would occur when you are out with your friend, maybe getting coffee or breakfast. Warning: it could get a little awkward. If your friend is confused, it could take some explaining on why they owe you money.

What do you do if your friend keeps saying she will pay you back but never does?

This one’s tricky, but the best way to get your money back is to set a deadline. You can do this by saying something along the lines of “I wanted to run to the grocery store on Saturday at noon, do you think you could have the money to me by then?” If it comes down to this, it is better to be straightforward than wishy washy. Make sure to be as specific as possible so your friend doesn’t try to weasel out of paying you again.

The key with reminding your friends they owe you money is to be polite about it. Your friends are college students themselves so, more than likely, they can relate in asking for money back. Chances are, they just forgot and need a little reminder.

Good luck.