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Should You Lend Money to an Officemate? September 7, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Pinoy Money & Finances.
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Money can be a very sensitive issue, particularly among friends and colleagues.  But what happens if money becomes the object of contention between you and a co-worker?  If someone asks you to lend him/her money, should you do it?  What happens if you need that money back – what do you do?  Here’s how to deal with the money question in the Pinoy workplace:

Can you spare it?
When someone asks you to lend them money, first ask yourself, ‘Can I afford to lend this person money?’  Do this before you dig into your pocket or whip out your wallet. 

Lending an officemate your money can help them out of the financial problem they’re in.  But once that money leaves your hands, what about you?  Do you have sufficient funds to cover your expenses, at least until the next payday comes? 

A good rule of thumb to follow is this: lend the money ONLY if you can spare the amount.  Otherwise, apologize and say that you can’t help.

Can you trust this person?
We Pinoys are rather maawain so we give in when someone tells us a sob story.  I even know of a few individuals who would even pawn their jewelry just so they would have the cash to lend to someone in dire straits.  Quite admirable… but is it wise?

Before you lend money to an officemate, ask yourself, ‘Can I truly trust this person to pay me back?’  If the answer is yes, then go ahead and lend the money.  If the answer is no, then apologize and refuse.

Set your rules.
When it comes to money, it’s sometimes best to set certain rules.  For example, you might want to set your loan money limit at 200 bucks or 500 bucks, no more.  Anybody who wishes to loan money from you can borrow that much and nothing more.  Tell them if you get the money back as promised, you might even help them again in the future.  If not, they shouldn’t ever ask you again.

If the money involved is a considerable sum, have an agreement.
This is an important thing to remember, particularly if the officemate asking to borrow money is not a close friend.  Explain that you’re doing it to make the terms of repayment accurate and understandable to both of you.  It’s a simple I.O.U. that will bear both your signatures and shouldn’t pose a lot of problems. 

Well, I take that back.  Some Pinoys can be quite sensitive about money so if you use this tactic, practice tact.  Be nice, you know?  That person would probably never have asked you for money if they weren’t so desperate.  Who knows?  You could run into a bit of financial trouble yourself, so let your karma be smooth and easy.

Ask when the money will be returned.
Most Pinoy employees are rather shy about asking when they’ll get paid back the loaned amount.  But this feeling of embarrassment is false and misplaced.  It’s your money, after all.  Money doesn’t grow on trees and if you’re like millions of other Pinoys out there, you probably had to sweat it out before you could earn that amount. 

When an officemate asks you to lend them money and you agree, ask them politely when you’ll get the money back.  Make it clear that you need the money too and that you have financial responsibilities of your own.  If they say, ‘Next payday’, repeat the promise and make it clear that you expect the money on the agreed day.  You’re not being cruel here – you’re just being practical.

Ask for the money back.
Let’s say you did lend the money and now the time has come when your officemate promised to pay it back.  But the day came and went and another day, then another day… Maybe even a few paydays have come and gone but still they haven’t paid their loan.  Maybe your officemate honestly forgot, maybe they just deliberately wiped it out of their memory.  What do you do?  Simple: ask for your money back.  Here are ways how:

‘Hi, Pete.  Remember that loan I gave you two weeks/two months ago?  Can I have the money back?  I need it.’

‘Hi, Pete.  Remember that loan I gave you two weeks/two months ago?  Can I have the money back?  I need it to pay for _____.’

‘Hey, Rhonda.  Remember that lunch out we had when I paid for your lunch?  How about treating me for lunch today so we’re even?’

‘Hey, Rhonda.  Remember that lunch out we had when I paid for your lunch?  I forgot to bring my wallet/I don’t have enough cash.  Could I borrow the money back?’

When you ask for your money back, be firm but matter-of-fact.  Don’t embarrass the person or make a lot of fuss.  Don’t be too aggressive either or you’ll back them into a corner.  Just ask for the money in your usual tone of voice.

Don’t feel guilty.
This is another trait that is common among many Pinoy employees.  When someone needs your help and you can’t give them any, you spend plenty of sleepless nights thinking about them.  Again, empathy is an admirable thing.  However, think about this: why should you suffer for something over which you have no control?  You tried to help and if you had the resources, you would have.  Unfortunately, you didn’t, so you couldn’t.  Leave it at that. 

If all else fails…
There’s a very colorful computer game called Tumblebugs.  Before you advance to the next level, some piece of advice would appear on the screen, something that I always found amusing and quite useful.  One of these was, ‘If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it’.  So learn your lesson.

Do you have a horror story about lending money to an officemate?  Or do you have a good tip for the less informed and the shy but altruistic people out there?  Share it here.



1. Susan Kishner - September 7, 2008


I like your site and wanted to know if you would be interested in exchanging blogroll links.

Thanks in advance

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