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4 Ways to Handle Friends and Money

In this article

  1. Awkward scenario #1: Splitting a restaurant check
  2. Awkward scenario #2: When your friend asks to borrow money
  3. Awkward scenario #3: Asking someone for money they owe you
  4. Awkward scenario #4: Your friend asks to co-sign a loan
  5. Your best money move? Honesty

It’s hard to mix money and friends. Chime is here to help you split the bill, lend (or not lend) money and navigate sticky finances with your #besties.

Melanie Lockert • April 1, 2022

It’s inevitable. At some point in your life, you’ll find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with friends. The culprit? Money. Whether it’s splitting the tab after dinner or lending money to a friend, things can get sticky.

To help you handle awkward money situations, check out these common financial scenarios and learn effective ways to deal with them.

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Awkward scenario #1: Splitting a restaurant check

You get invited to a big birthday bash for your BFF. To keep it frugal, you stick to an appetizer and one drink. When the bill comes, the group somehow decides that it’s “easier” to split everything.

*cringe*

Have you been in this situation before? Super awkward, right?

Several years ago, I attended a friend’s birthday dinner at a sushi restaurant. I was in serious debt repayment mode. Now, I love raw fish but let’s face it, sushi isn’t known to be cheap. Beforehand, I decided that I was going to order one roll and one drink. Frugal win! As everyone else was enjoying rows of sushi delicately placed on wooden boats, I enjoyed my one roll.

When the bill came, the resident mathematician of the group divided the total bill by the number of people. I was then supposed to contribute three times more than I anticipated. We all threw down our cards and in that moment I regretted not enjoying those sushi boats. Though I paid more than I wanted and didn’t make a fuss, I wish I could have changed the situation.

How to handle this situation:

Be honest and tell your friends you’re on a budget ahead of time. This way, it won’t come as a surprise if you order less than everyone else. For example, you can say, “Thanks so much for inviting me! FYI, I’m working on saving money and I want to hang out, but I probably won’t spend a lot of money.”

Once you’ve laid your financial state out on the table, here are a couple options for dealing with splitting the check when you go out with friends:

  • When you arrive at the restaurant, ask your server for a separate check before everyone starts ordering. I know this can seem uncomfortable but hopefully, your friends will understand and this beats asking for another check at the end of the meal.
  • Agree ahead of time to split the bill based on how much each person spends. Or, make sure your friends understand that your budget prevents you from chipping in extra cash. An easy way to do this is to use Chime’s mobile payments feature which lets you instantly send money to friends. And, if the tip amount is also an awkward pain point, Chime offers up instant transaction notifications for restaurants that include a 15% tip calculation.
  • If you really don’t feel comfortable splitting the check down to the exact penny, consider budgeting for situations like this. This way, you’ll be prepared to spend more on the group meal.
  • As a last resort, you can always say no to an invitation and propose something that is more budget-friendly at a later date.

Awkward scenario #2: When your friend asks to borrow money

It’s the 29th of the month and your friend calls you. You know the one – she has trouble holding down a job but has a heart of gold. With all of her courage, she asks for money to pay rent.

You want to help your friend and you have the money, but you don’t want things to be weird. You also don’t want to be a bank. Your job is to be her friend, not act like a lender, right?

How to handle this situation:

As hard as it is, you should probably say “no” to your friend. Lending money to friends is risky. How will you feel if she doesn’t pay you back? Or how would you deal with seeing her on Instagram at the hottest new cocktail bar – very likely spending the money you just loaned to her?

It may seem awkward, but just tell your friend in plain and simple terms: “I don’t lend out money. It’s a rule I have.” This could mean a moment of awkwardness instead of a broken friendship down the line. Which one would you prefer?

On the other hand, if you really do want to help your friend and have the funds available, then you can certainly consider lending her the cash. Just make sure lending money won’t put you in a tough spot. A good rule of thumb: Don’t lend money that you wouldn’t give as a gift. Always remember that you might not get your money back.

Awkward scenario #3: Asking someone for money they owe you

You book a girls’ trip with your favorite ladies and put it on your credit card. You let your friends know their part of the bill and they all agree to it. No problem.

After a wild weekend of fun, you still haven’t been repaid for the trip. You don’t want to be a total buzzkill and sending them Rihanna’s song “B!%#* Better Have My Money” is a bit much. What do you do?

How to handle this situation:

Instead of launching into a discussion about how much money your friends owe you, bring up the situation as an afterthought. You can say something like “I had such a great time with you at [trip/concert/dinner,etc.]. We should do that more often. I wanted to follow-up with you about the bill. I’m about to pay off my credit card soon, do you want to Venmo or PayPal me the money? Your portion was $X.”

Pro tip: If your friends are Chime members and use their mobile banking app, you can use the Pay Anyone feature to make getting paid a breeze.

Awkward scenario #4: Your friend asks to co-sign a loan

At some point, a friend may ask you to co-sign for their loan. A co-signer is typically someone with excellent credit and if you’re that person, you can help your friend get approved for a car loan or perhaps even secure the apartment they’ve had their eye on. This may not seem like such a big deal to you, but, before you sign on the dotted line, it’s important to recognize that, as the co-signer, you are legally responsible for the loan. If you friend is delinquent on payments, guess what? Your credit score may suffer.

A few months ago my friend asked if I could be a co-signer on her apartment application. I knew I could help her get approved, but I wasn’t willing to risk my own credit or our friendship over it. So I told her the truth. I said, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t do this. I’m getting my credit in shape after paying off all my debt. I don’t think I’m the best one to help you with this.”

It was tough and definitely awkward. But our friendship is fine now and he eventually got an apartment.

How to handle this situation:

Just say no! You don’t want to be on the hook and risk your own credit because of someone else. Trust me. Be polite and give it to ‘em straight. Make it about you, not them.

Your best money move? Honesty

It’s tough to navigate the complexities of dealing with money issues with friends. Consider your values when dealing with these awkward situations. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground or be true to your financial goals. While you’re at it, fully explain your personal situation and reasons for the decisions you make. By being honest, your friends will understand where you are coming from. And this, my friends, can help you keep your friendships and finances intact.

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