How to ask for your money back from friends politely

How to ask for your money back from friends politely

Lending money to friends is never as easy as it sounds. If they don’t pay it back, you have to ask for it, which can then feel awkward and cause your friendship to suffer. With that in mind, here’s how to talk to your kids about setting financial boundaries and asking friends to return their money.


Related: Teaching teens about money management


Why should you ask for your money back?

According to a recent survey of our UK customers, 83% of teenagers said a friend has owed them money, and 59% said they're owed money every month. Unfortunately, in 17% of these cases, teens said they never got the money back. 


As for why your teen should always ask for their money back, there's one simple answer - it's their money! They may not have entered into a formal contract with their friend, but lending and borrowing money is a lesson in money management that they need to remember. If you borrow money, you have to pay it back. If you lend money, someone else needs to pay you back.


Another reason teens need to ask for their money back is to avoid being taken advantage of. If they lend money to friends, they need to be clear that they expect to be repaid.


Tips when asking for your money back

Teens often have a range of common financial problems that they need help resolving, but by far, the hardest is asking a friend to pay money back. Here are some tips to pass on to your teen.


  • Be direct and honest: Don't beat around the bush. Tell your friend you need the money back and when you need it.

  • Be understanding: If your friend struggles to repay you, offer to work out a payment plan to give them some extra time.

  • Set a deadline: When you ask for money back it’s important to set a deadline for repayment. If there is no deadline, the borrower may be tempted to put off repayment or may not ever be able to repay you back. 

  • Be polite: Your teen might be upset and annoyed that a friend has put them in a position to have to ask for money back but advise them to stay polite, there’s no point getting angry, it won’t help them get their money.

  • Learn from experience: Reassure your teen that it often takes something challenging to make them  adapt how you do things.

  • Tell them not afraid to be ask for help: If they are struggling to get money back, they should ask you for help.


Think about if you should lend money to friends in the first place

Can you afford to lend someone money?

This should always be the first thought that goes through your head when someone asks to borrow money. You might not want to disappoint them or feel bad, but if you can't afford to lend them money, be honest and upfront about it. This is a key money management lesson for spending and lending money.


Why are you lending money?

Does your teen feel that they can’t say no to friends? Are they afraid their friends will be upset if they turn them down, or do they feel bad that they have more money than another friend? While we all want our teens to be kind and generous, it's also important for them to be smart with their cash and not always step in to pay for friends. Talk to them about financial boundaries and paying for others. And suggest what to do if friends don't have money, such as choosing to do something that doesn't cost money.


Why do they need the money?

While teens don't like to make judgement calls on each other, teach them to consider why friends need to borrow money. For example, are they borrowing from you to pay another person back another (never a good sign you'll get your money back)? Or do they overspend so they can’t afford to do things.  The purpose of the loan will  give your teen an indication of whether to loan money or not.


Are you being clear that you are lending, not giving them money?

This is important for your teen to consider - are they being clear enough when lending money? Handing someone cash or paying for someone without agreeing on the terms first is how miscommunications occur. They need to be clear that the money is a loan and must be repaid by a specific date.


Do you trust the person to pay you back?

Many teens have poor money management and this is why it’s important to consider how trustworthy the person is that they are lending to. Can they rely on them to repay the money? Can they trust them to pay it back on time? Or will they have to keep asking for the money in order to get it back?


How can GoHenry help?

Teens learn best by doing. So show them how to manage money for themselves with a GoHenry prepaid teen debit card.  Available for kids aged 6-18, GoHenry is a safe way for kids and teens to practise their financial literacy skills. There’s a companion app for parents which allows you to pay pocket money, monitor spending, top up when necessary and create saving pots. Money Missions is our in-app financial education tool, allowing your kids to explore various financial topics, from budgeting to saving and more. 


Using their GoHenry app, your teen can also request and receive money from friends via the payments feature, up to a limit of £250 per month. They won't be charged any fees, and they can personalise their payment request with a fun, custom GIF.


To get to this function, your teen needs to go to their GoHenry app and home page. 'Payments' can be found at the bottom of the screen. Clicking this will then take them to the send or request page. They can send a request or QR code to the friend who owes the money. Parents and teens will get a notification when money is paid. Parents can also see any money coming into their teen's accounts by going to their child's card login to the parent app.



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How to save money as a teen
How much should teenagers have saved?
Written by Anita Naik Published Aug 15, 2023 ● 5 min. read