On Lending Money

I’ve never been in a situation where I needed money so badly that I had to go to someone for a loan—thank God. It’s been the other way around, though, through the years.

Last year two people borrowed money from me; the first is someone I trust, so I let him borrow a relatively huge amount of money—and expected him to pay me promptly. The other person is only an acquaintance, so I loaned him a relatively small amount, at the back of my mind thinking that he will never pay me back again, so I never expected to hear from me again.

Sometimes my intuition amazes me.

I was right. The first person who loaned the huge amount of money paid me promptly and thanked me profusely after. I told him that he could borrow money from me again if he needed to. The second person, after contacting me a couple of times and saying that he needed more time to pay for the debt (both times, by the way, I replied to him with a quick “no problem” and that was that), I never heard from again. I don’t expect to hear from him anymore.

There’s this strange thing about money that places us in awkward situations. And I’m talking about money in general, whether borrowed or loaned, won (in a bet or in a raffle), or found. But mostly when borrowed. ESPECIALLY when borrowed.

We all know that that person who seems to make his or her mission to borrow money from anyone who’s gullible enough to fall for the usual sob story and then promptly disappears like a thief in the night. (In the Philippines, we have a Tagalog saying for this—naglaho ng parang bula.) But with this type of person, because you don’t expect him to pay for the money that he filched from a gullible idiot like you, there’s really no awkwardness—deep inside you knew he wasn’t going to pay you anyway, so you let it go. And thankfully, even if you are a gullible idiot, you didn’t hand over a huge amount of money to the criminal. (If you did, maybe you need to have your head checked.)

Where it becomes really awkward, however, is when you loan a substantial amount of money to someone who is not really a master swindler but someone you know and you expect will pay you—and then he doesn’t. Especially if you need the money he borrowed for important personal expenses.

Immediately you feel conflicted. You want to go and ask him about the money he borrowed, but you can’t muster up the courage to do so. Like one friend put it recently, it’s as if you’re the one at fault. This friend lives in the Netherlands, and he said the feeling is akin to one ordering food from a Dutch waitress. You feel as if you’re to blame for inconveniencing her with your food order.

The moral of this story?

Don’t lend money to someone you think won’t pay you back. Or if you can’t help it, give him a small amount and tell him it’s on the house, that he doesn’t need to pay for it. If he does pay you back, well and good. If he doesn’t, no worries.

Oh and another thing:

Don’t eat out in the Netherlands; cook your own food.


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