How to Politely Ask for Money Owed

The process of politely collecting these debts may seem daunting at first, but anyone can do so with the proper knowledge!

The following are expert-recommended methods on how to politely ask for your money back:

Christopher Liew, CFA

Christopher Liew

Creator, Wealth Awesome

Approximately 51.3% of Americans took personal loans previously. This is one of the reasons why we need to teach creditors how to ask for payment from people who borrowed money from them politely.

Offer payment flexibility

In most cases, people who borrowed money from you previously can’t settle their debt instantly. This is why you need to offer payment flexibility.

If the person borrowed $1,000 previously, you could convince them to pay $100 monthly. This will give the person at least 10 months to completely pay off the personal loan.

Ask them politely where they have used the borrowed money

Show empathy by politely asking people where they have used the borrowed money. Don’t ask for payment directly. You have to ask what happened to the money. Analyze if they spent the money judiciously.

This will remind them that they have a financial obligation they need to settle accordingly. If they tell you that they can’t pay you instantly, then offer payment flexibility.

Discuss your current financial situation indirectly

You need to discuss your current financial situation with the person who borrowed money, especially if you need the other person to pay back the money quickly. Give a concrete reason why you need the money urgently.

Matthew Carter

Matthew Carter

Attorney, Inc and Go

Make plans for how to get the money back before you lend it

If you expect repayment, say that upfront and work out a plan with the borrower before you hand over any cash. A written agreement is best. Though that may seem awkward, I guarantee you it will be more awkward to try and get the money back based on an informal promise.

If you don’t have an arrangement, you need to be kind but assertive

Assuming you don’t have a written agreement or even an oral promise, the time to start clear communication is now. Go to the borrower and do the following:

  • Set down the facts as you recall them: the amount borrowed, when, and for what purpose.
  • Explain that you need the money back.
  • Don’t try to justify yourself by saying that you need to money to pay bills, run your business, etc. It’s your money, and you are entitled to it. If the borrower disagrees with that logic, you have bigger problems.
  • Work out reasonable terms for repayment. Don’t expect it immediately, but don’t leave the conversation without knowing exactly what will happen next.

Consider speaking to an attorney as a last resort

If the above steps don’t work, consider speaking to an attorney about your next steps. Don’t threaten litigation or law enforcement against the borrower.

If you have to take those steps, do them as a last resort and don’t telegraph your intentions, which could give the borrower a chance to hide the money.

Ahren A. Tiller, Esq.

Ahren Tiller

Founder and Supervising Attorney, Bankruptcy Law Center

Be direct without being confrontational

Many relationships have been wrecked because of money. With that said, getting your money back can be pretty stressful if it involves a family member or a friend.

When asking for your money, especially if you really value your relationship with the person, be direct but don’t get confrontational. It may be annoying, but remember that being rude almost always doesn’t get you the results you want.

Be polite and extend your patience a little bit further, and who knows? You can save the friendship and get your cash as well!

Suggest a flexible payment option

Suggest a flexible option, like paying the borrowed money in installments. This can be reasonable, particularly if your friend is facing some financial difficulties.

I know it can get pretty frustrating that it has come to this. But try to look at the brighter side: you can start seeing some of your money again.

Dror Zaifman

Dror Zaifman

Personal Finance Expert and Director of Digital Marketing, iCASH

Make it look urgent

Try to add a sense of emergency and urgency to your situation. This might help your friend understand that you’re in dire need of cash. You can say something like, “I’m sorry to ask this, but I really need that money to pay for XYZ.

Make sure to give your friend some time to arrange the cash, so they don’t feel like they’re being rushed.

Drop a hint about needing money

If you don’t want to be direct when asking for money, it’s better to drop hints. Saying something around the lines of, “I’m sorry I can’t make it to dinner tonight, I’m too skint,” can be helpful. Your friend might pick up on the hint and pay you back.

Don’t get confrontational

Avoid being confrontational when asking for money. This can put your friendship on the line, so try not to be rude about it. Keep a cool head about it and be flexible about getting your money back.

Guadalupe Sanchez

Guadalupe Sanchez

Founder, Budgeting in Blue

You can remind someone that they owe you money in two simple ways.

Subtly remind them that they owe you money

Bring up the topic when there’s a bill to pay. You can say something like, “If you want to get the check, you don’t have to owe me anything else later?“. It’s a subtle way of reminding them that they owe you money.

Also, you’re not really giving them much of an option since they do owe you the money either way. You shouldn’t be embarrassed to remind someone that they owe you money.

If anything, they should be embarrassed because they should have remembered. Either way, you’re not doing anything wrong.

Be clear that you’re waiting for the money they owe you

Bring up something you want to purchase, and be clear that you’re just waiting for the money they owe you to purchase it. Don’t be shy about bringing it up more than once if it’s a significant amount like a few hundred dollars.

Be clear about the timeline

If they don’t say anything by the second time, ask politely how long it’s going to take until they have the money. Be clear about the timeline. Say something like, “Do you think it’s going to take you two weeks or two months?” It puts a little pressure on the person as it should.

Steven Duncan

Steven Duncan

Editor, Ball Are Life

As a general rule of thumb, any money given to a friend, family member, or loved one should be done so with the expectation that the money will not be paid back. And similar to advice received regarding investing, any money put forward should be money that is not urgently needed nor money that is needed to pay for essential bills and obligations.

However, if you lent money to someone and would like to request a payment back, doing so can prove to be particularly difficult. Finances, in general, are a difficult topic to discuss, and the topic can become even more difficult when it relates to money owed.

However, there are ways to request money owed in a polite, non-confrontational manner and in a manner that will better ensure the money owed is fully paid.

Do it genuinely and in a non-aggressive manner

When asking for money owed, do so genuinely and in a non-aggressive or confrontational manner. Individual circumstances may lead to quick arguments and tempers may flare, so be sure to approach the situation delicately.

In addition, once the conversation is brought up, don’t back away from it.

Rather, lean into the conversation and ask, genuinely, if they are able to pay back the money owed. You can bring up your own financial needs or difficulties and let them know, again genuinely, that you are also relying on that payment.

Offer to be paid back in increments

Similarly, as the conversation eases and the discussion becomes more impactful, you can offer to allow payment to be paid back in increments.

Doing so not only shows that you are willing to accommodate and work with the other person, but also that you understand that finances can be difficult and a touchy subject.

Tim Connon

Tim Connon

Founder, ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors

Be upfront and honest as possible

The best way to ask for money owed to you in a polite way is to be as upfront and honest as possible. Tonality is everything. It is not so much the words you say but how you say it.

So if you are going to ask politely for money owed to you just approach the person with a relaxed body language and attitude.

Related: Why is Body Language Important?

They will mirror how you act, so if you just casually say, “Hey, I was just wondering when you would be able to pay me back that money I lent to you for…” Make sure and name the reason to trigger a proper emotional response.

This will cause the person to remember how much the money helped, and ultimately they will respond in a nice manner back. There are no perfect words, but there can be a perfect attitude.

Cliff Auerswald

Cliff Auerswald

President, All Reverse Mortgage, Inc.

Ask to set up a transparent repayment schedule that works for both parties

When you ask for your money, don’t try to force someone who isn’t ready to pay the cash back to you in full immediately. If they’re borrowing in the first place, it’s unlikely they’ll have a pile of money ready for you ASAP.

Instead, ask to set up a transparent repayment schedule that works for both parties. They can give you a lump sum they can afford upfront and the rest in a few weeks’ or months’ time, or if they’re really short now, you could try setting up a plan to receive a little back every month until the debt is paid down.

Whether they can repay you immediately or need to set up a schedule, always use respect when discussing the setup moving forward and ensure both of you are on the same page.

Becky Neubauer

Becky Neubauer

Founder, Lifepothesis | Host, Find Your Freedom Podcast

Don’t try to make them feel guilty

When you are asking someone for money they owe you, be sure to remind them of when they borrowed the money and how much it was. Don’t try to make them feel guilty. Just politely ask them if they can pay you back.

Do not get angry or annoyed, be civil

If someone does not want to or cannot pay you back when you ask, do not get angry or annoyed. You can still be civil and explain that you expected that the money you lent them was a loan, not a gift. You could suggest that they pay you back in small amounts over time until the full amount has been repaid.

Elisa Bender

Elisa Bender

Co-Founder, RevenueGeeks

Communicate openly about your financial situation

When you have lent money to someone and now you need it yourself, make sure that you communicate openly about your financial situation. However, there is no need to get confrontational, as it could aggravate the matter.

Be flexible about receiving money back

Another tip is to be flexible about receiving money back. If you are not in urgency, allow your friend to pay you back in installments. At least this way, you will be able to receive some part of your cash back.

Add a sense of urgency

Adding a sense of urgency to your situation will drop a hint to your friend about your financial situation. For example, “I am sorry, I would have given you more time, but I need to pay my monthly college fee.

Give them prior notice so that they have time to arrange money beforehand.

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

CEO, CocoSign

Engaging debtors in a meaningful face-to-face conversation

Communicating the right way will not only ensure you’ll get paid on time but also maintain a good relationship with debtors. To break the ice, use warm words and be lively when conversing. Make them reason with you and make tangible promises towards repayment of their debts.

Offering an alternative favorable payment method

Some people prefer paying in cash, and others prefer cashless. After you establish the debt you want to collect, do a quick check and come up with the most convenient means they can pay you. With a convenient means of payment, debtors will feel more obligated to pay.

Kelan and Brittany Kline

Kelan and Brittany Kline

Founders, The Savvy Couple

When you ask someone for money they owe you, be polite. You are only causing yourself more stress by not doing so because this person will likely try to continue avoiding the issue, and you may negatively impact your relationship with them.

Explain the situation in a straightforward way

If it is a family member or friend that you are asking, let them know that you were happy to help them by lending them money, but now you need them to help you by paying you back.

Explain the situation in a straightforward way, making sure to mention how much money is owed and when it was borrowed.

Devin Schumacher

Devin Schumacher

Founder, SERP

Casually mention the money owed at the middle or end of the conversation

I think a good way is to find another topic that is neutral to connect and catch up safely. Once you have re-established contact, you can casually mention the money owed at the middle or end of the conversation.

This way, you first remove the tension, and you are also able to find out what happened to the person who was not able to give back the money on time.

Give the benefit of the doubt and have some form of leeway first to help people explain what’s going on with them and this will promote empathy and compassion.

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