How to Ask Someone for Money They Owe You

Samuel Mitchell

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how to ask someone for money they owe you

Asking someone for money is always an undesirable experience, regardless of whether we need to borrow the money or request someone to pay us back what they owe. Most of us feel uncomfortable asking for money because of some unknown fears. These fears arise out of losing a long-standing friendship or hurting a beloved family member merely because of money.

The results of not asking for money can be disastrous. If we need money for something urgent, such as medical treatment but fear asking someone, we could become seriously ill or even die. And, if we don’t ask someone to repay the money they owe, we could have ill feelings towards that person and lose a superb friendship over differences over cash.

Therefore, I would suggest that you ask for money in both these situations: if you need to borrow or if there’s someone who owes you some cash.

It’s understandable that asking someone to repay the money they owe you can be often a tough task. However, it needn’t be so. There are several ways to ask for money someone owes you without generating any ill feelings towards one another.

To know how to ask someone for money they owe you, continue reading. In this article, I will discuss some superb ways that could help recover the money. If not immediately, you might recover the money over a period of time.

Reasons We Give Money

The first and foremost step is to ask yourself why you gave that loan to a relative, friend or even a coworker at the workplace. Sometimes, it’s because that person was facing an emergency and had no one else to ask. At other times, we don’t collect money when we split a bill.

Then there are other times when we volunteer to lend money merely to ensure that person remains our friend or to appease a relative. Often, we loan some money because it makes us feel good and gives us a sense of superiority and financial well-being.

Helping someone in an emergency is indeed a noble act. There’s no denying that you could possibly have helped save a life or even prevented someone from losing their home or landing in a lawsuit.

However, when we don’t collect the money that people owe when we pay a bill now and split it, it’s wholly our fault. Also, loaning money to make someone happy or just because we need to feel big is wrong, and we’re fully at fault here as well. In such cases, it could be a bit difficult to ask for repayments.

However, there are ways and means to do that in a polite manner and ensure that nobody feels hurt because you’re asking for money they owe you.

How to Ask Someone for Money They Owe You

Now, let’s get down to brass tacks and find what can be done to get someone to pay the money they owe you. Trust me, it can be much easier than you believe. In fact, the person who owes you might even feel grateful that you’re reminding them of a forgotten debt.

Here are some simple steps that I would suggest.

1. Reasons for the Debt

Reasons for the Debt

Have you lent the money because someone was facing a crisis or emergency? If so, the best thing would be to wait for a reasonable period of time before asking someone for the money they owe you. Generally, people who had any emergency situations would have borrowed from several persons or sources. This means they would most likely not have enough to repay everyone on time.

The first thing you could do is find out whether the person is now financially stable and has no other debtors. Also, check if that emergency or crisis is over. That clears the ways to ask for money they owe you.

However, in other cases, such as split billsa or giving loans casually without reason of feeling superior, you have to be a bit cautious. Here, it was your fault to have waited for repayment. Hence, it’s more likely that asking for repayments could lead to spoiling a relationship permanently.

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2. Send a Text Message

Send a Text Message

The best way to remind anyone of the money they owe you is by sending them a text message. You could send a simple SMS message from your mobile phone or use WhatsApp or other messaging apps that you have in common. That takes away the bite of asking a person face-to-face. Messages serve two purposes. It reminds the person of the money they owe you.

Since messages stay on the phone for a long unless deleted instantly, they serve as a reminder of the money they owe you. While SMS and WhatsApp messages are safe, you might have to ensure that the spouse or some third party doesn’t access them. That could cause undue embarrassment to the person who owes you money. However, always follow up for repayment of the money.

3. Use Email


Nowadays, you can also write an email and ask for repayment of the money someone owes you. At the same time, ensure that you don’t use your or their official or business email accounts to communicate.

Often, such accounts are monitored, and you might cause serious embarrassment to both- the person who owes you and yourself. Instead, use a general email address such as Gmail to communicate with one another. Write a message of only two or three sentences.

Begin by greeting the person who owes you. In the second sentence, remind them of the money they owe you. Conclude in the third sentence by politely requesting the person to repay. Never use harsh words or sound too soft. Here too, you will have to follow up on repayment if the person ignores you.

4. Over a Coffee

Over a Coffee

One more polite way to ask someone for money they owe you is by inviting them to a coffee or tea or even a drink at some commonplace. Start a casual talk and gently remind them of the money they owe you.

Ask when they would repay and make a firm commitment. You can explain to them that you treasure their friendship and, hence, don’t want money to become a stumbling block in the relationship.

If the situation merits, inform them they can borrow from you again if necessary, provided they repay what they owe you already. Should the other person have some objections to repayment, hear them out before repeating your request for repayment. It’s likely that you’d forgotten to repay them, and hence, they borrowed from you and adjusted the sum as repayment.

5. Split Bills

Split Bills

Recovering money from a split bill can often be difficult. That’s why it’s important to inform the group or individual that you’re splitting the bill and expect them to repay immediately. Once you ignore such a repayment, the other person will most likely forget it.

This can be common when you go out for drinks with a group. Someone might consider those drinks to be free or sponsored by someone in the group and, hence, refuse payment. Also, they could ask for the original bill and its amount, which is fairly justifiable.

In such cases, you can provide a deadline for the person to repay. Never spread the word about what they owe in your group, social circles or workplace since it can cause irreparable damage to someone’s reputation.

6. Collect in Installments

Regardless of the reasons people owe you money, it’s always possible to offer them some softer repayment terms. That’s by allowing them to pay over a few weeks through equal instalments.

This usually works well when someone owes you a large sum of money or in excess of, say, $100. You can ask them to give post-dated checks worth a specific amount as repayment. Here, the only hassle is to cash the checks. Or, you can ask them to set you as a biller in their banking app and get the instalment directly credited to your account on specific dates.

Offering to accept instalments usually works wonders. People are more tempted to repay something when they’re offered easy terms. Secondly, the person who owes you money might truly be unable to repay the whole amount. In such cases, instalments work well.

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7. Offer a Small Waiver

This means you’ll accept a slightly smaller amount of money as repayment from someone that owes you. For example, if someone owes you $100, you can ask them to repay only $95 and settle the debt.

However, this is something you need to do carefully. The waiver works well when you’ve to collect money from someone who’s been through an emergency or crisis and is recovering. The small waiver you offer would make them feel good and remove any ill feelings they could have against you.

That small waiver of loan also indicates that you know they were in an emergency, and hence, the money was a symbol of your help in such situations.

Never Be Harsh or Rude

The basic rule of asking someone for the money they owe you to do it politely. This means never use harsh words, or threats or being rude to the person. That’s because the person might truly want to repay you but doesn’t have the money.

Also, when harshness or rudeness can permanently break a strong friendship just for the sake of some money, reminding you politely is always the best way to ask someone for money they owe you. It helps retain your dignity and theirs, too.

And least of all, never indulge in physical violence over money since that can land you both in serious trouble with the law.

Wrap Up

Using these ways to ask someone for the money they owe you works fairly well. You might not be able to get the money instantly. However, the other party will pay you over a period of time. Remember, you, too might have to borrow money at some point in time.

During such times, your social circle or relatives should know that you’ve been helpful to them as well and were never rude or harsh. That way, your chances of getting some money in emergencies are also fairly good. The eight ways I describe could help you get the money and retain a good relationship too.

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