How to get someone to pay you back

how to get someone to pay you back

There are several ways you can ask for your money back and get it; you can take an effective communicative approach, offer different avenues for repayment, or even take legal action. 

We’ve all likely lent money to a friend or family member or friend, but what happens when it’s time for them to pay you back and they haven’t paid you back or brought it up?

If you find yourself in a scenario where you loan a friend money or lend money to a family member, you may be wondering what you should do about it. If you do end up here, you should know that it is fairly common—a poll by found that nearly half (42%) of people who lent money to friends or family did not get it back.1 Continue reading to learn more about getting someone to pay you back!

Different Ways To Approach the Subject

Your approach to getting your funds back will likely be the person you are talking to, your personality, and the severity of the need for the money. Here are some approaches you can read through and figure out whether they work for your situation:

Be Direct Without Being ConfrontationalRemind the person calmly and matter-of-factly about the overdue money. Avoid confrontation as it may lead to negative reactions.
Ask for the Money Back in WritingUse written communication, such as text, email, or a note, to ask family members and friends about the owed money. A formal demand letter is also an option.
Drop Hints About Needing MoneyIndirectly communicate the need for money by dropping hints. This approach may prompt the friend or family member to take action and repay the funds owed.
Offer a Payment Plan For Less PressureProvide the option of repaying the loan in installments to ease the financial burden on the person who owes you money. 
Accept Alternative Forms of PaymentsInstead of immediate cash, consider having the person repay you in other ways, such as covering a bill when going out together or providing services like home repair, car repair, plumbing, art, or furniture making as credit towards the owed amount.
Don’t Let Too Much Time PassRemind the person periodically about the debt to ensure both parties are on the same page, remember the amount, and understand that a payment is expected. 
Talk to Someone in Their HouseholdIf the person is unresponsive, consider reaching out to someone in their household who shares finances. 
As a Last Resort Consider Legal ActionIf all else fails and the person is ignoring you, consider pursuing small claims court. Follow state laws regarding minimum owed amounts and prepare a case. 
Letting it GoConsider the possibility of letting go of the expectation of repayment when lending money to friends or family. 

Below is more information on each approach:

Be Direct Without Being Confrontational

Sometimes, all someone may need is a reminder that they owe you a certain amount of money, and that is overdue. You can be direct with your statement and bring it up in a calm but matter-of-fact way. Most of the time, confronting people does not work the best; they may become avoidant, angry, or emotional. Instead, a calm but clear approach will likely work best.  

Ask for the Money Back in Writing

Asking for money face to face can be awkward, and so doing it in writing is a great alternative way to ask family members and friends about your money. You can simply send them a text, but an email or note can work well, too. If you want to be formal, you can also write a demand letter for your loaned money. 

Drop Hints About Needing Money

If you don’t want to take a direct approach to asking for money, then consider something a little more passive. You can always drop hints about needing money, which may help that friend or family member take action to repay those funds owed. 

Offer a Payment Plan For Less Pressure

A great way to lessen the burden for a friend or family member if they owe you money and are having trouble is to offer them the ability to repay your loan in installments. This way, they can eventually repay you without having to throw off their own financial situation.  

Accept Alternative Forms of Payments

Another way to get paid back is to have the person who owes you money pay it back in another way. For example, let’s say someone owes you $100; instead of giving you the money right away, you may ask them to pick up the bill if you both go out to eat together. If they have useful skills, such as home repair skills, car repair, plumbing, or something even like art or furniture making, you can ask for those services and add them up as credit towards the amount of money owed. 

Don’t Let Too Much Time Pass if You Do Want To Get the Money Back

If you are set on getting your money back that a family member or friend owes, make sure you don’t let a lot of time pass before reminding the other person about the debt. You don’t want to hound someone, but periodically reminding them will ensure that both parties are on the same page, will remember the amount, and that a payment is expected. 

Talk to Someone in Their Household Who Shares Finances  

If you are getting no answer from the person who needs to pay you back, it may be helpful to talk to someone in their household, ideally who shares finances. That other person may apply some pressure for that person to, at the very least, get into contact with you. They may also take on the responsibility. For example, in most cases, a parent may usually pay a debt owed by their child. 

Being stuck in a position where you loan money and are not getting it back can be extremely frustrating, especially if the friend or family member is flat-out ignoring you. 

If this is your situation, you may be able to pursue small claims court. State laws determine the required minimum owed amount to pursue a small claims court case. Along with that, there are some guidelines, such as the money must have been considered a loan (for example, personal loan options, installment loans, or whatever category you want to put it in), an agreed-upon repayment, etc. 

You will prepare your case, and will state it before the judge and the other party. Whatever the decision the judge makes, both parties will have to agree to. In most cases, court judgments will cause many people to give in and repay their debt; however, if that still does not happen, then the court can pursue action such as wage garnishment. 

Letting it Go

You may have heard the saying that when lending money to friends or family, do so without expectation of repayment. And so, if your friend or family member is not paying you back, it may be best for the relationship and your mental health to simply let go, forgive, and forget. 

Ways To Protect Yourself When Loan Money Again 

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself if giving money out as a loan, and in some cases, a good idea to use if you borrow money:

Get Everything in Writing 

Whether you are lending money or borrowing, it will be best to get everything in writing—that way, both parties know exactly how much money is involved and the agreed-upon repayment plan. 

Don’t Have Expectations of Repayment for the Least Impact on Your Mental Health

If you loan money to someone, you may spend a lot of mental energy focusing on receiving money, and it can hurt you and your relationships. And so, before you decide to say yes to giving someone money, you should be okay with the possibility of not getting it back. 

Ask for Collateral as Security

When looking for loan options on your own, you will likely find secured loans. You can do this when lending or borrowing money as well. This can help relieve a ton of stress if you don’t get your money back. You can sell the collateral or keep it and extend the time for repayment. Assets like jewelry, electronics, and cars are a few examples of things that you can use as collateral.

Alternatives You Can Offer Instead 

No one wants their friends or family to struggle with finances, even if that financial need is not a necessity right away. The good news is that you may be able to help them without giving out money outright. Here are some ways to help them:

Find Them Loan Options from Financial Institutions/Lenders

Loan options from a financial institution can work better than personal loans from friends or family because relationships are not involved. One way you can help your family member or friend is to help them find financial solutions through lenders. For example, personal loans are a great option for funding even with bad credit! If you want to go a step further, you can even consider being a cosigner on a loan for them.

Suggest That They Save Money Overtime

If the person in your life who is asking for money is doing so for a purchase or some other expense that can wait, then suggesting that the person saves over time may help show them a new perspective. You can even share some saving tips or send them encouraging messages to reach that goal. 

Research Assistance Programs for Them

If your loved one is having trouble paying for necessities, like housing, food, and clothing, and you cannot help them out with money, consider researching assistance programs for them. Many people may qualify for funding through federal, state, and local government and non-profit programs. 


What are some key elements to include in a payment plan for a personal loan to a friend?

A good payment plan should detail the total amount owed, the installment amounts, due dates for each payment, and any interest if applicable. Make sure it’s realistic and considerate of the borrower’s financial situation.

Is it advisable to treat a loan to a friend or family member as a business transaction?

While it’s important to maintain a level of formality for clarity and protection, remember that personal relationships are involved. It’s often best to balance the formal aspects of a business transaction with the understanding and flexibility that come with personal relationships.

What should I do if someone can’t pay me back due to a sudden change in their financial situation?

Be open to discussing their situation and consider adjusting the repayment terms. This could mean extending the repayment period, reducing the payment amounts, or in some cases, forgiving part of the loan.

How can someone prepare themselves mentally for the possibility that a person may not pay you back?

When lending money to someone close to you, it’s wise to lend only what you can afford to lose. Mentally prepare yourself for the possibility of non-repayment to avoid financial strain and preserve the relationship.

Are there any specific legal considerations to keep in mind when creating a payment plan for a personal loan?

Yes, it’s important to ensure that your payment plan complies with any relevant legal requirements, such as usury laws regarding interest rates. It’s also a good idea to have the agreement in writing and, if possible, reviewed by a legal professional.

The Bottom Line With CreditNinja: Trying To Get Someone To Pay You Back

When trying to get someone to pay you page, the best approach is going to depend on you, the other person, and the urgency in which you need your money back. 

Regardless of how you want to approach the subject, the best thing you can do is remain calm and collected, as things like anger and intimidation will often lead to avoidance and can ruin a relationship. 

If you do decide to lend money to a person again, it will be helpful to set some things up to protect yourself. 

If a family member or friend of yours is struggling and you cannot help them with money, there are definitely other things you can do to help! Help them find loans from other sources, suggest a savings plan, or look at assistance programs for them. To learn more about finances, check out CreditNinja’s blogs.


  1. Poll shows lending money to friends, family is a bad idea | Fox Business

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