Due to some uncertainties in my housing situation my friend let me couch surf at his apartment for two months.
I've found an apartment now and will be moving out soon. I keep insisting to let me pay half of his rent but he refuses to accept any money. I would chalk it up to a good deed if it was for a few days but for this long, I really want to pay him back. I'm 23 and he's 27. We're Indian but live in the US.

I figured there are two options:

  1. Do a bank transfer via zelle without telling him and block him so he can't transfer the money back.
  2. Leave an envelope full of cash on his table (he's the only one in the apt so someone else stealing it is not a concern)

I don't want to get an expensive gift and rather deal with money that he can use as he sees fit.

How to pay back a friend who refuses to take money? Would appreciate an answer from an Indian perspective.

  • Hi rsn, welcome to IPS. I've removed off-topic part so you don't attract VTC, but didn't dare adding that you want to achieve this without being rude / ruining the friendship. Is that correct ? Can you also tell us the country this happens in and your age range ?
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 18:32
  • @OldPadawan thanks. Added the context in the post
    – anon
    Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 20:27
  • 1
    What's your concern with the two methods you've already thought of?
    – Kat
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 21:43
  • @Kat I had similar concerts as mentioned in Imus' answer.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 13:38

3 Answers 3


Never under any circumstances force someone to take money from you.

There is a reason he refuses to accept it (might be a wrong one, like assuming you can't afford it right now even though you can). By forcibly gifting the money you are denying his point of view which will only hurt your friendship.

To solve your own ego issue (that feeling you are in debt with your friend) try to figure out what exactly they value most in your friendship. This obviously isn't anything about money so there must be something else they get out of it.

The first thing that comes to mind is just having some certainty that you will be there for him if something goes wrong. For example, if his house gets flooded in some natural disaster and they need a place to stay for a couple of weeks, they know they can sleep at your house. Or if they would break their leg and need someone to get groceries or make food for a couple of days they might know they can count on you.

We have a friend that because of a handicap can't work and has trouble doing daily chores. This means she never has any cash left over, and whatever she does have she (has to) invests in making her life easier. At some point her coffeemaker broke down at a time where she really couldn't afford to buy a new one. You could see the stress in her eyes for what it would mean for the rest of the month. So we just gifted here a cheap but decent one. The kind of thing that if our own one broke down we wouldn't even think twice about and just get another one like that and get on with our life.

This wasn't really the first time something like this happened so we know she hates being in debt with someone. The previous times it was more about lending her the money that she paid back a month, maybe two months later when she could afford it again. But this thing was given as a gift so we didn't accept any money from her. Instead we sat her down and had a talk about why we felt like we wanted to give her this gift.

What we need most at this time in our life is having someone to talk to. Someone who actually listens and understands the difficulties of dealing with a loss. Someone who is just a phone-call away of getting a hug if you just can't cope anymore. And we have the certainty that she will be there in such a time of need. You can't buy this kind of friendship. So just being there for us means a lot more to us than that small price of the coffee-maker. She then agreed that it's those kind of things that she values in us as well (alongside the physical help on things she is unable to do herself because of her handicap) which mostly solved her feeling indebted to us about that stupid little coffee-maker.

As for your friend, nobody here can tell what he values most in your friendship but himself. So sit down with him, talk about it. Explain why you feel you want to pay him back for those months and then actually listen to his counter-arguments. Most likely for him it's not about something specific he will need help with but just having that security that if he really needs someone's help he knows he can count on you to do what you can in the same way he wants to help you in times of need.


Some people don't exchange money with friends. They just don't. Money is impersonal. That does not mean that a non-monetary exchange would be refused.

Stocking the refrigerator and pantry to "replace" all the food you ate might be accepted, or other types of "repayment".

Or if you have a talent or skill that he doesn't, you could do some sort of favor, etc.

Or you could just say "Thanks" and make sure you are available if he needs help like you did. Friends help friends, but if you force him to take money, he may be offended that you see it as a financial transaction rather than a favor between friends.


It doesn't have to be money.

Think about a basket with some of his favourite treats - food you wouldn't buy every week because it's expensive or hard to find. Maybe a bottle of good wine if he drinks it.

Or maybe a fine big houseplant.

A friend of mine has this problem, and feels he has to repay it somehow, though none of us demand it. He invites us once a year to a good restaurant as a treat, which is lovely.

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