This is Africa, so we help our brothers, sisters and friends financially. Well, until it ruins us when they fail to pay. So how do you effectively put a stop on this quasi-cultural habit? Here are several tips on how to refuse gently, while still helping your friend or family member.
Don’t feel pressured: Many people agree to these type of loan requests because they don’t feel that they can say no. You may feel like you’ve been backed into a corner with no way out, if your friend or relative is pushing you to make a quick decision. You don’t have to say yes, so don’t let the pressure get to you. Making the decision to refuse to lend money to friends or family before this becomes an issue will help alleviate the pressure.
Respond to the request within 24 hours: If absolutely necessary, tell your friend or relative that you need more time to think things through and that you’ll give him your final answer in 24 hours. This can make the decision easier, because you will have time to reassure yourself that you are doing the right thing. The extra day will give you time to gain the confidence that you need to form an articulate response. In deference to your loved one’s problem, and to ensure that you don’t build any false hopes, try to respond right away, if at all possible.
Be firm and concise: When you speak to your friend or relative, firmly explain that you’re not able to provide him with a loan. For example, “I’d love to help, but I’m just not in a position to lend you the money right now.” This is short and to the point and does not give your friend or relative much room for argument. If your friend or relative has your best interests at heart, this should be the end of the discussion.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep: Once you’ve decided that you won’t lend money to friends or family, don’t beat around the bush. Make it clear that you won’t be able to lend any money; don’t try to let them off gently by stating that you may be able to give them money next year or at some point in the future. If you hint that a loan might be possible “someday,” you’re really just setting up that person to repeat the same awkward conversation with you in the future.
Don’t make exceptions: If you really and truly don’t want to loan money to friends and family, you can’t make any exceptions. Loaning money to one relative, but refusing to do so to another relative, could cause potential conflict within the family. Stand firm and don’t back down from the decision not to lend money to friends or family, even just this “one” time.
Things are a bit trickier if your friend or relative knows that you do have extra money to spare. In this scenario, you could say that while you have the money right now, you may need the money in the not-too-distant future. Stress that this money is your emergency fund to protect you against unexpected expenses.
If you’re worried about looking selfish, you can also explain that you don’t want this loan to make your friend or relative feel guilty if they can’t pay back the loan. You’ll probably feel guilty about not lending money to a friend or relative, but you need to get past this feeling to successfully reject the loan request.
It’s not your fault that your friend or relative is in a financial mess, and there’s no law that says you must give up your hard-earned cash to help someone else. If you’re upfront and honest about why you can’t loan friends and relatives money, and if you offer to help them find alternative ways to eliminate their debt, the relationships should still remain intact.
This article was written by Casey Slide who lives in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.