If you can’t pay back, don’t borrow

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan doth oft lose both itself and friend." I am learning to live by these wise words by Shakespeare. I recently became conscious of the fact that I have a serious problem. When it comes to loaning money to friends and relatives, I am a people pleaser who is averse to the word 'no'. I've gotten a reputation as a walking, breathing ATM.

To make matters worse, when they 'forget' to pay me back as agreed, I find it awkward and feel self-conscious about broaching the subject of repayment. I have to literally give myself a pep talk and convince myself that I am within my rights to ask for my money back.

It was after I found myself in a situation where five people owed me money and none of them was making any real effort to pay me back within the agreed time that I realised that it is not so much that I have bad friends and relatives: I have bad boundaries.

I am the reason that they see it perfectly acceptable to take their time to repay me. These people were taking advantage of my generosity because they know I am not one to hound them until they pay up. I remember one galling friend in particular. He had requested a substantial amount of money, promising to repay within a month. He even gave me the specific date he would repay me.

When the day came I didn't hear a word from him, I decided to give him a week before reaching out to him. When I finally plucked up the courage to call, he told me he had been meaning to call me (yeah right!) and that he couldn't come up with the money to pay me as agreed and requested that I extend the repayment period by another month. I foolishly agreed. When the month was over, I again didn't hear from him and had to reach out to him. He gave me another sob story and requested another month to repay. This went on for four months.

I came to the realisation that there was no real reason why he wasn't paying me back. He was employed and was getting a salary at the end of every month and had no excuse not to pay up. I grew a pair of steel balls and confronted him face to face. I told him he had two days to give me the money or else I'd take his spleen as collateral. He paid me back the full amount the next day and that was the end of our friendship. Good riddance!

It is a sad state of affairs that people are more dedicated to paying back banks and businesses than they do their loved ones. They make sacrifices and pay Sacco loans and loan sharks ASAP, but dodge their friends and make excuses, all the while spending money frivolously and not paying back their debts. Don't assume that because you're friends or relatives that you can take your time repaying money. That's putting a price on the relationship.