“Money separates friends,” is a phrase I heard quite often growing up, and along with the quote, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” They formed my money philosophy as a teen. I witnessed enough “friendships” go sour because someone borrowed and didn’t pay back, to know that there was truth to the saying. So unless I was gifting cash, I avoided the topic as much as possible when it came to friends and lovers.
As I grew older, however, it became more and more difficult to keep the subject of money out of relationships. In the course of navigating those waters, I learnt a few things that proved to be very helpful:
1. Giving is less risky and more rewarding than lending. If you can afford to give a friend the amount they’re asking to borrow, just give it to them. If there’s need to maintain their dignity, you can call it a loan, but you know you’ve given it to them.
2. Never lend a friend money that you cannot let go of if they were unable to pay back. As you lend it to them, be at peace with the thought of it never coming back. If they pay back, great! If they’re unable to, it’s just as well.
3. “I can’t lend you all of it, but I can give you X amount” is an offer few, if any friends, will turn down. It’s better than just saying no.
4. If you are a decent person and you have decent friends, it’s unlikely that they will borrow from you and refuse to pay on purpose. You want to bear that in mind when it comes to friendships worth keeping.
5. When you’re married, it doesn’t make sense to share a home, share your body, and share children with the one you love, but hold back when it comes to money. What does that really say?
6. When you help out a partner who is struggling financially, you’re actually helping yourself.
7. The partner who earns more at any point in time spends more, simple. Today it could be you, tomorrow it could be your beloved. It’s not a competition, nobody should be made to feel bad, and there’s no need for record-keeping just so you can refer to how much you’re spending on them or how they’re spending less on you than you did on them back when you earned more.
8. Make it your default mode of operation never to lend your partner small amounts of money. Just give it to them. Charity does begin at home; if you can’t give generously to the person you love and are building a life with, how generous are you, really?
9. If a partner needs to borrow from you (and this, of course, would be a considerable sum), ask yourself how the relationship will be affected if they’re unable to pay back. Will it do irreparable damage? If yes, decline and protect your relationship. If no, then lend it go them and be prepared to write it off just in case.
10. Treat your friends as you would like to be treated. Do to your partner as you would have them do to you if the tables were turned. Embrace love and wisdom.