AGONY AUNT: How can I get my money back without losing a friend?

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Q: I have known my neighbour for eight years and we have become quite good friends. She has recently given up her part-time job due to ill health and is claiming benefits. She got behind on her rent so asked to borrow £300 from me, three months ago when she was still in work. Because she’s my friend I didn’t put a return date on it. Now I could really do with the money. She hasn’t mentioned it since and has booked a holiday for June, buying clothes and accessories. I know she needs a break but she comes round showing me what she’s bought. It feels like she is rubbing it in. She is getting all excited and saying that she feels better now that she’s got something to look forward to. I feel terrible but I need it back. How can I ask her for the money, without ruining our friendship?

A: What’s the old phrase? Neither a borrower nor a lender be? A bit late now. Your friendseems to be happy enough to splash out on a holiday instead of paying you back, so you needn’t be embarrassed to ask her when she will be in a position to return it. Ask her simply when she thinks she will be able to pay you back. If she hesitates, maybe suggest that she could pay in instalments? Although this will mean that you may have to readdress the subject every so often. 
Is there a particular event or bill that you need to cover? If so, you will need to let her know what it is and how soon you need the money. 
You have not mentioned your own financial situation but three months is a long time to wait without any statement of intention from your neighbour. In the future please think really hard abut lending money to friends or family as it is often a source of resentment from each side. Nobody likes to owe money and its very easy to think that someone is avoiding you or making excuses if you are the lender. Leave it to the institutions to lend and never, ever be tempted to use a loan-shark or even pay-day lender as one default on payment can result in huge fees. If you can’t afford something, then you should wait until you can. We have developed a self-entitled population who can’twait to have everything now, then go into debt.

If you are struggling to pay a bill, you need to talk to the firm as soon as possible about a payment plan. Your intention to repay and maintaining any agreements is very important and can stop any bad debt going on your credit score or collectors from calling. There is plenty of advice online, or try the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0300 330 1313. Share your problem by emailing andrea.moon@jpress.co.uk.