How to Say No When Someone Asks to Borrow Money

    It’s uncomfortable but usually better to say no when someone – your boyfriend, family member, coworker, dog – asks to borrow money from you.

    Here’s a question from a reader:

    “I’ve already lent my boyfriend almost $700 about 6 months ago,” says L. on one of my articles about loaning money to family members. “He hasn’t paid me back. The money he makes is not enough to pay his bills school loan, unexpectedly high utility bills, car payments, rent, supporting his parents, etc. He is now asking to borrow $5,000 to help him pay some of his debt so he can get adjusted and financially organized. I want to help him, but he hasn’t paid back the other money I lent him. Should I lend him the money?”

    No, no, a thousand times no! Below, I explain why I think she should say no to his request to borrow $5,000 – and I offer a few tips on how to say no when someone asks to borrow money from you.

    Saying no to a loved one who asks to borrow money is hard – but you can do it without damaging your relationship! Books like The Power of a Positive No: Save The Deal, Save Your Relationship, and Still Say No will help.

    Why She Shouldn’t Lend $5,000 to Her Boyfriend

    The bottom line is that if he doesn’t have $5,000 now to organize his life, how and when will he get the money? And here are other reasons she needs to say no…

    • He already borrowed $700 from her, and can’t pay it back.
    • She doesn’t have a contract for the first $700 she lent him, so she’s out of luck if he denies borrowing it, refuses to pay it back, or simply doesn’t have the money.
    • Five thousand dollars is a huge amount of money! It’s not $50 to buy groceries, which most lenders can afford to lose.
    • In this case, lending him money is not a solution. It is a short-term band-aid that will not help him in the long run.
    • Her gut feeling is telling her she should say no to his request to borrow money, but she feels guilty. Her kind, misplaced heart is ruling her smart, savvy head.

    Remember this quip: “Give a man a fish, and he’ll be hungry tomorrow. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll never go hungry again.” Instead of throwing more money at someone who has money management problems, teach him how to organize his finances. Get him a book like Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.

    How to Say No When Someone Asks to Borrow Money From You

    One reason I believe money should be kept out of love relationships is because I watch Judge Marilyn Milian. Every day, she hears cases that involve ex-partners suing each other over money loans that weren’t paid back.

    It’s not out of spite that the borrowed money wasn’t repaid – it was often simply because the borrower didn’t have the money to repay the loan.

    If you decide to say yes when someone asks to borrow money from you, read How to Lend Money to Your Boyfriend or Girlfriend Without Regret.

    Be firm and loving when you say no

    You could say, “I’m sorry, but this is a bad time. I can’t afford to lend money to you.” Whether or not you have the $5,000 is irrelevant. It is your money, and you need to decide the best way to put it to work.

    You could say, “I wish I could help you out – and I love you – but loaning $5,000 is not in my budget.”

    You could say, “I know how hard it is for you to ask to borrow money. I

    When you’re saying no, try not to over-explain. It’s not a debate, argument, or discussion. Really, you only need to say “No, I can’t help you.” You don’t need to explain why or defend yourself. I know this is much easier said than done!

    The key to saying no when someone asks to borrow money from you is to separate money issues from your emotions.

    Offer to help in other, non-financial, ways

    What else can you do to help someone who wants to borrow money? There are lots of ways to support someone in financial dire straits, depending on his situation. Some people need budgeting help, others need help creating and sending out resumes.

    I think the best way for L. to help her boyfriend is to hook him up with a financial planner who will help him organize his income and expenditures. He needs a long-term solution to his money situation – not a short-term loan that will create more financial problems in the long run.

    Are you and he codependent? Read my article about untangling a co dependent love relationship.

    Expect disappointment – and expect to feel guilty

    It’s a fact: whoever is asking to borrow money from you will be disappointed and upset. He may try to make you feel guilty – but he may not even need to! You’ll feel guilty all by yourself.

    But you have to remember that he is a grown man, and you are not his mother. You are his girlfriend. Your role is to support and love him – and that doesn’t mean lending money when he’s in financial trouble. His financial problems is his responsibility – not yours.

    If you want to help your boyfriend get money, read 7 Ways to Get $10,000 – From Refinancing a Mortgage to Asking Mom.

    Here are two more articles that may help when someone asks to borrow money from you:

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    What would you do if someone asked to borrow money? Comments welcome below…

    12 Responses

    1. Richard says:

      This is good advice on how to say no when someone asks to borrow money. I will use it. My brother asks for money all the time.

    2. idon't wanna lend says:


      I ask you for some advice right now and you may go ahead and publish this on the blog/fb/extinct newsletter when it resurfaces.

      I find myself in a situation very very often. Which is this. I often myself in the situation where a close friend will ask to borrow money, or asks that ‘I don’t have money right now, can you book my ticket’, or I don’t have money right now, can you transfer to my brother in urgent need. It will be an emergency situation. It will be a last minute panic call. It will be a moment of decision – are you a friend or not. Do you have faith or not. Do you believe in me as a friend or not.

      Most of the times, I heed, because I can’t think of a good enough reason to say no. But it’s not that I heed because I’m happy to heed. I heed because I can’t really explain why I’m not comfortable giving. The reason why I’m not comfortable giving is because I feel it’s hard earned, and hard saved money. I saved by not spending on luxury, travelling uncomfortably, living frugally and so I have saved money. My friend, on the hand, spend his or her money the day he or she would get hands on it on good food, luxurious travelling, movies, clothes and enjoyment. And now he or she is broke. And desparate. And calling me as the last ray of hope out of a desparate situation – and ‘of course they’ll pay back’ (which never happens, my friends owe me around 1.1 million indian rupees)… It’s not that I’m rich or anything. I earn as much, or less, or maybe a little more than some of them. But I’ve saved for things that are important for me. Buying a house for my parents sometime, for instance. And anyways, material goods don’t make me very happy anyways.
      This is a cycle that has been repeating itself since the day I started earning money. And I don’t know what to do about it. I love my friends. I love spending time with them. I would love to help them, or anyone else in the world. And I feel guilty that if I have money, why do I mind lending it to them in their time of need. So I do. But I don’t feel good about it..

      This situation arose once again today morning. A friend called and said there is no money in the house at all, and they have to pay their home loan installment or else they’ll be fined. They’ll pay back by the 7th when his brother gets his salary. I feel bad, cause I know they’re somewhat poor. But I’m also tired of his constant need for money. I pretty much know that he’ll never repay. Cause the day he gets money he’ll spend it on something. But he’s a very good friend. And this is an urgent situation, as always. So I said I’ll call back in half an hour. I know I’m just buying time, ultimately I’ll do the same thing I’ve always done – transfer the money and feel bad about it.

      Any suggestions..

    3. wisdolf says:

      i lend a friend a quite huge amount of money and it has been one year now.He has returned the money but he is expecting i should forget about it and be friends again.what should i do?

    4. Laurie says:

      Hi Sandy,

      It sounds like your husband is trying to be a good step dad, but it’s affecting your marriage in negative ways. I agree that he needs to learn how to say no when someone asks to borrow money from him…but he also has the right to do what he wishes with his money.

      It’s not an easy situation, but here are a few thoughts:

      Should I Hide My Husband’s Money? He Keeps Giving It Away

      I hope it helps, and welcome your comments.


    5. sandy dennis says:


      my husband is constantly lending money to his step daughter, I have tried to talk to him about it but he won’t hear a word against her he paid for her wedding – over £17000 – i let it go becouse we reasoned that she had a husband, who worked and that would be the end of it. whenever she borrows money from him – it puts him in a bad mood and i am at the sharp end of it. I’ve thought of hiding his money when she comes round – but i know i will only be able to do this once. I don’t want to upset her as we both love the grandchildren

    6. Velo says:

      My boyfriend has recently been asking me to borrow money the financial part of it doesn’t bother me because I’m pretty well off, but still I feel like I shouldn’t lend it to him. I understand he has three kids and is barely getting settled in town, but I feel a bit used at times. Then I feel guilty for thinking of him being like that. I’ve always been uneasy about friends or family asking for money just because they know I have it. Its not that I’m cheap its just that I don’t want people to see me as a piggy bank. Thanks to this it’ll make it easier to say no, even if it does upsets them. I don’t need people to only be around me for money anyhow.

    7. Laurie says:

      Hi Alana,

      You need to tell him you changed your mind – you can’t afford to lend him $800! It’s okay to change your mind. Tell him you thought about it, and you have to say no.

      I know how guilty you feel – it’s hard to say no when someone asks to borrow money from you. But most of the time, saying no is the best answer — no matter how bad you feel.

    8. alana says:

      I said yes to lending $800. I am too nice of a person and he knows it. How do I now tell him no??? I just found out that he is always borrowing money and I guess this time everyone else told him no so he put on this sob story and asked me. And you are right I feel guilty for not wanting to lend him the money, but I honestly would be putting myself in great fincial risk by him not paying it back.

    9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Dave. I’m glad that it worked for you to simply say that you can’t lend money – and not over-explain. It’s true that once someone learns that they can borrow money from you, they may never shake the habit…

      It’s also great that your coworkers gave you the “heads up” on this person who wants to borrow money all the time! That was nice of them.

    10. Dave says:

      We have a coworker who regularly hits us up for money. It’s usually ten or twenty dollars and he does pay it back, albeit it can take a while. There are stories that someone in the company lent him thousands of dollars and was never paid back. I was lucky because as a new employee, someone in my group warned me about this guy and said if you don’t start…

      Just a few weeks ago, I guess that he felt like he knew me well enough and he came by my cubicle and asked whether he could borrow $20. The best advice that I see above – and it works for me – is to not over explain. I just said, sorry, wish that I could, but I’m on a tight budget. I tried to do it in a nice way, but I figure why enable someone so that they come back and ask for larger sums. The guy is a smoker so one thought is stop smoking and you’ll feel better and save money that you spend on tobacco.

      When I was younger, my parents were doing well and they lent their friends down the street a larger amount of money for business purposes. They never got all of the money back and it ruined the friendship. Every time, they saw that family had bought something new and expensive, it upset them that they had not paid back the debt.

    11. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Thanks for commenting, Sally. That’s great that you can say no when your sister asks to borrow money. And, it sounds like your relationship is still intact – at least she’s still talking to you!

      I wonder about the reader I wrote this article for, though. Did she lend money to her boyfriend? I hope she comes back and lets me know…

    12. Sally Robinson says:

      I’m glad you wrote this article, because my sister constantly asks to borrow money from me! I say no all the time, but it doesn’t stop her from asking. But now I find saying no easier. I think she expects me to say no because she always has alternate plans for getting the money she needs. She just asks my mom if she can borrow money, and my mom always says yes.

      So to those of you who can’t say no, remember that the person who wants to borrow money usually has other people to ask!

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