Dear Friend: Here Are 41 Reasons Why I’m NOT Lending You the Money

I recently saw a curious article in the Huffington Post that attempted to explain why our friends often fail to repay money that they borrow from us. In a nutshell, the piece offered five reasons:

  • You refuse to ask for the money back.
  • You make it too easy for your friends to ignore you.
  • You didn’t get the loan in writing.
  • Your friends assume that their unpaid debt won’t result in a broken friendship.
  • Your friends never planned to give you the money back in the first place.

Strangely enough, the author failed to offer the most logical — not to mention obvious — reason why anyone would ever welch on a loan from a friend or relative: they’re a deadbeat.

Truth be told, I have occasionally loaned money to my financially-pinched friends and relatives. Not often, but I have.

In several cases, I’ve offered the cash with no strings attached because I believed the bind they were in was due to something out of their control.

That being said, if you happen to be a friend of mine who’s been thinking about asking me for a loan, keep in mind that your odds of success will be extremely remote if one or more of the following are true:

  1. You refuse to get a job — any job.
  2. You’ve got a million reasons why you can’t work a second job.
  3. You drive a brand new Lexus when a 1997 Honda Civic will do.
  4. You insist on living somewhere with a high cost-of-living even though your income (or lack thereof) can’t support it.
  5. You fail to understand that debt is a mortgage on your future.
  6. Your priorities are all screwed up.
  7. You live in a larger home than you can reasonably afford.
  8. You refuse to raise additional cash by selling some of your “toys.”
  9. You prefer to blame others for your poor financial situation.
  10. You’re materialistic.
  11. You fail to comprehend the concept of value.
  12. You’ve got a closet full of $200 designer jeans.
  13. You own a $500 handbag.
  14. You wear $400 Louis Vuitton Millionaire sunglasses.
  15. You play the lottery on a regular basis.
  16. Your teenager drives a brand new car when a beater will do.
  17. You think money grows on trees.
  18. You insist that packing a brown bag lunch is waste of time.
  19. You recently completed an ambitious kitchen remodel even though it didn’t really need it.
  20. You own five dogs, three cats, a cockatoo and an anaconda.
  21. You refuse to quit smoking.
  22. You’re woefully disorganized.
  23. You can’t tell me exactly how much money you earn each month.
  24. You can’t explain — nor have any idea — where your money goes every month.
  25. You refuse to save money by eating leftovers.
  26. You believe it’s all about living in the moment.
  27. You just got back from a 10-day Caribbean cruise.
  28. You have no concept of personal responsibility.
  29. You failed to maintain rainy day and emergency funds.
  30. You own an iPhone.
  31. You eat out too much.
  32. You’re still sending your child to private school.
  33. You’re a big believer in keeping up with the Joneses.
  34. You still have a gardener. (Never mind that his leaf blower wakes me up every Saturday morning.)
  35. You just bought another large screen high definition television.
  36. You seem to think that poor planning on your part constitutes an emergency on mine.
  37. Your spouse refuses to get a job.
  38. You don’t know the difference between a want and a need.
  39. You’ve shown no inclination to change your financially destructive behavior.
  40. You haven’t established a credible plan for digging yourself out of debt.

And if that’s not enough for you, here’s one more: Quite frankly, I’m tired of coddling people who refuse to sacrifice and make the same hard decisions that I do every day in order to ensure I live within my means.

Is that harsh? No — that’s life.

So, now that I’ve made myself perfectly clear … do you still want to ask me for a loan?

Photo Credit: Infrogmation


  1. 3

    Minelly says

    Perfect list to have on hand. My friends don’t ask me for money, but I would lend to just a few. Me encantan tus historias, es la primera vez que comento. Love your blog!!!

  2. 6

    Lynn says

    O.M.G. !! Thank you so much . Very rarely do I respond to an article , but I’m saving this one and printing copies . Well said .

  3. 8

    Olivia says

    People who are willing to make the sacrifices generally don’t ask for money. An elderly friend once told me, “There were times we thought we wouldn’t make it, and we’re still here.”

    • 9

      Len Penzo says

      I love that quote because it is so true. I know lots of people — and get email testimonials from others — who manage to make ends meet even though they earn a relative pittance.

      Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  4. 10

    Deb says

    My sister-in-law meets 36 of the 41 on the list — even the tongue in cheek ones. We used to just give her money, but no more. She did us a favor and then tried to charge us $300 for her time! She said we OWED her the money and that we cheated her by not paying it.

    We regret our contribution to nothing more than her huge sense of entitlement.

    • 11

      Len Penzo says

      For those folks, tough love is absolutely the best medicine — although it’s hard to administer sometimes. I know. It’s just like punishing your kids. It’s necessary sometimes, but it takes courage to do it.

      (I know my kids still have trouble understanding that — just as I did when I was young — but they will get it eventually.)

  5. 15

    Colleen says

    This list would be helpful to many (note, not all) of those seeking gov’t assistance; unfortnately, that’s not a loan with no promise or obligation of a repayment:/

    • 19

      Len Penzo says

      Thanks for stopping by, Minelly!

      (Good personal finance habits are the same whether you’re from Puerto Rico or California!)

  6. 24


    Will I ask you for a loan? No Siree. I’d be a sucker to borrow money from you when all I have to do is just go to Obama and co. and he will just take it from you and give it to me. Why should I borrow something from you that I have to pay back with interest when I can get the government to take it from you and just give it to me because I am “entitled” to it? :)

  7. 27

    first gen american says

    LOVE This list., especially #20 because it also makes a very convenient excuse for being too busy to deal with your financial issues.

    Len you animal hater, how dare you treat my rescues as a discretionary expense. I saved their lives!!!!

    • 28

      Len Penzo says

      Hey now … Let the record show I love animals — especially dogs. In fact, I practically worship them!

      (Just ask my faithful pup, Major.)

  8. 29

    first gen american says

    LOVE This list., I know many of these people.

    Somehow earning and saving money isn’t that difficult or life draining when its someone else who’s doing the work. This post hits way too close to home. I could rant for pages on it.

  9. 33


    This is a great reminder, as well, to not make the same mistakes of the past if one of your mistakes is on this list.

    A while back, my wife and borrowed money to pay bills when I had lost my job and was scrambling to find another. If I was more enlightened back then and knew I could suspend some of these monthly obligations rather than keep paying them, I may not have needed to borrow. There’s still a feeling of shame that I did it, as I like to think of myself as self sufficient financially.

  10. 37

    Lisa says

    Excellent & practical! As a Baby-boomer, I was raised by parents who mostly paid cash for everything, so they never made a purchase until they had cash in hand, even for the family car. I can’t have been the only person of my generation who experienced this, yet it’s kind of disheartening that so many people live according to your list. On the upside, I think the present generation of 20-somethings, with student loan debt. & tapped-out parents, are learning some tough, but practical lessons on how to manage their financial lives. Apps & the internet help them search deals. Kinda cool!

  11. 38

    Sarah Sarah Sarah says

    Best list ever. My husband and I used to be friends with another family who were always desperate for extra money. We had three children, they had five. I was constantly buying diapers for them, even paid their water and light bills a few times because I felt so bad for them. We used to hang out socially and I started to hide my nicer things because the wife would always make comments about how “rich” we must be to be able to afford such items, like my KitchenAid mixer or new bikes for the kids. Eventually, they only called when they were short on money and I began to resent the heck out of them. Still, I felt bad for their kids, who would come over to our house when they were hungry. Our last straw was when we were invited to their daughter’s quinceanera and on the way there, they called us to ask us to get the kegs (hubby has a pick up truck) and when we got there to get the kegs, we found out they hadn’t even paid for it yet, and assumed hubby and I would pick up the bill once again! Hubby did pay for it even though I was fuming, and when we got to the party, we were introduced to the entire family as “our rich white friends.” I don’t need to pay for friends, I told the wife that night that I expected to be paid back for the keg money, and I never heard from them again. That was four years ago. Best money I ever spent never to see them again.

    • 40

      Len Penzo says

      Nope. But if you’d like, Jeff, simply copy the link and paste it into your Facebook status! I’d appreciate it! :-)

  12. 41

    Little Tex says

    Great post Len!

    I think you should write a post of “2 Things No One Told Me About Getting My Finances Straight”

    1. People will ask you for money advice (fine)
    2. People will ask you for personal loans (eh)

    Like you, I base my decisions on lend or not to lend on financial maturity.

    – Friend A just graduated from school. He doesn’t have a full-time job yet but he has been diligently hitting the streets every day to apply for jobs and is working a part-time job in the meantime and eats ramen to save on cash. (Approved)

    – Friend B just graduated from school, is not working but blames the economy on his lack of a job and isn’t really trying to find one. He just crashed his car and bought a new one, and eats at semi-nice restaurants every night. (denied)

    I am all for generosity to others but frankly, generosity is usually lost on the habitually immature. When I lend, it is a gift and I understand there is a possibility I won’t get it back but if the borrower is fiscally mature, I probably will.

  13. 43


    This one hits a bit close to home. I cosigned(I know, I Know bad idea) for a close relative of mine. They can check off a few of your list items and I could check them off for them. They ended up missing a payment early on which almost got me a credit negative (I cleaned it up and they paid me back). After this I explained I cant hold this debt because of near future investment interests. Unfortunately they are not as eager to refinance with someone else than they were to ask. :(


  1. […] a Kill-A-Watt device from his library and has been discovering all the energy wasters in his house. Dear Friend: Here Are 41 Reasons Why I’m NOT Lending You the Money, sincerely, Len Penzo. I like Len a lot, but if I should ever need to hit a friend up for a few […]

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