Be Careful Who You Loan Money To

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A friend is in a pickle and asks you for a loan of $5,000 because they hit some hard times and have some bills to pay. Do you help out your friend and say yes, or simply say no.

If you say no, then your friend may get upset, get behind with bills, but hopefully they will respect your decision. I recommend to never loan money to friends or family, but in case you end up doing so you need to formalize the process. Better yet, give the money as a gift with no strings attached or expectation of being paid back.

If you do say yes, your friend is happy and you are happy to help out a friend. And your friend will pay you back . . . or will they? And when? Here are a few tips to make sure that you do not damage your relationship with your friend, which is probably much more valuable than the money in most cases. You can easily substitute family member or employee in the place of friend, which is a very common situation too. I am big believer in having things written down so there is a mutual understanding between everyone, and here are some important factors to have in writing and to consider:

Loan vs. Gift: Your agreement states that it is a loan, so there are no misunderstandings about this fact.

Amount of Loan: How much are you loaning.

Interest Rate: How much is the interest rate you will charge?

Length of Loan/Payment Schedule: Is the loan for a month, a year, five years? How much will the payments be? What about late fees?

These are some basic items to consider, and the most important is to have it in writing even if it is a very basic agreement. If your friend refuses to sign the agreement, then this is a sure sign that you will most likely not get paid and will lose both your money and your friend.  It is always wise to seek legal guidance when warranted.