How to ask for owed money

How many times have you lent a family member or friend some cash only to never see it again? And every time you ask for the money, there is some excuse that they bring up?

First of all, it's not rude to ask for your money. What you really need are just good boundaries and how to approach them.

All you need to do is use polite language and let them know that you appreciate them.

The first thing you need to be clear about is your role in this. Here are some of those things that you need to do:

It isn’t about making the person who hasn’t paid you feel bad about not having paid you.  They probably have done that all on their own.  Your pushing and poking around that will only make the situation worse.  They are likely to get defensive and/or angry.  And neither of those will help.  And the person is really more likely to avoid you, to avoid your calls and ultimately, to avoid paying you.

It isn’t about you trying to help them figure out how to pay you.  That is a definite money trap.  First, no matter what idea you have, it’s likely that they will find a way that it collections won’t work.  All of a sudden you are in the awkward conversation that is frustrating and unproductive, and oh, by the way, completely off topic.  The true topic is they need to pay you, not how they are going to do it.
And that leads to the second problem with trying to help.  When you try to help, you take them away from making the commitment to pay.  It becomes your idea, not theirs.  They aren’t invested in it, and aren’t likely to actually follow through with it.

With all that prep, there is only ONE thing you need to say when making asking for your money back:  “When can I expect payment?”  That’s it, just that.  If they start doing into the big long story of why they can’t pay,  how the dog ate the bill, their mother-in-law stole their money, or they were recently run over by a truck you say: “Wow, that’s really too bad.  When can I expect payment?”

You don’t engage in the figuring, you don’t offer solutions, you just stay calm and assertive, and you are consistent about it.  And then you wait for them to make a commitment.

If they say “I don’t know when I can pay you” you calmly say, “I need a commitment that you will keep”.   If they propose a payment plan, you can accept, reject or revise it.  Just don’t you propose it.  Maintain your boundaries.

And stay calm. Getting angry is more likely to result in the borrower pushing back than if you stay calm.
So keep it calm, assertive and simple: “When can I expect payment”. Use it.  It’s all you need.

Written By: Shell Tain of Untangling Money Knots