"When a friend doesn't pay you back timely, or at all, the debt becomes a blight on the friendship — sometimes even the end of it," says April Masini, relationship expert and advice columnist. "Friends may end up avoiding each other because of debt, acting passive-aggressively because it's bothering them and they don't want to bring it up directly." But with your wedding fast approaching and your friendship on the line, don't let money matters stand in between you.
"The first thing to do is to make clear what's owed before lending," Masini says. "A wedding is a rush of busy times and can quickly become chaotic." Your maid, may have thought the loan was actually a gift or — Masini says — "a loan that became more difficult for her to pay back, because of the other wedding expenses. So if you're lending money or expecting reimbursement — for gowns, trips or even lunch — make it clear before you do anything else."
It's also smart to never lend money you can't afford to lose. "Before you extend a loan, think about what will happen if it's repaid late or not at all," Masini says. "You're less likely to ruin a friendship if you give what you can afford to lose, rather than what will send you into a financial tailspin if it's not repaid timely or at all."
If you've followed those guidelines and still find yourself without the loan repaid, it's time, Masini says, to "ask gently for reimbursement." If this conversation makes you uneasy, consider starting with a question that requires a simple yes or no response. Ask, "Can I have that money for the bridesmaid's dress next weekend?" Masini suggests, because it's "simple, direct and to the point. Then on Thursday, follow up with, 'I thought I'd swing by to pick up that check — is Friday afternoon a good time?'"
It's OK to point out that you don't want finances to affect your friendship. Call it out and say, "this is the warning that the friendship is about to be negatively impacted," advises Masini. Many people learn about each other through money, so if you don't get paid back, you've learned something about your friend. You can write the bad debt off and move on, or decide — based on the reason and the way the debt went south — whether this is someone of character you want as a friend."