About a month ago, my friend asked me to pay for his online ticket (which cost about 60 Euros) to temporarily move to the city I am living in. He couldn't pay himself as he needed a credit card for the payment, but he promised to return by cash when he arrives. Now he's in our city, we're meeting with him every day, soon he'll leave, but I am afraid he completely forgot about his debt because he's very absent minded.

To put some more context into my question: his financial situation is good enough to pay the debt, he almost never borrows money, we're very good friends and I am a self-financing student who actually needs that money. The problem is that I am a very shy person when it comes to money, especially with my friends. So, how can I politely, better implicitly, remind my friend to return his debt?

Side note: I am aware of "How to ask a friend to repay me?" question, but the attitudes of borrowers in the questions are completely different.

  • Welcome! Have you even asked yet? What have you done to broach the subject at this point? – Catija Oct 2 '17 at 18:44
  • 1
    I haven't asked, because I know that the time I ask he will return me, but inside I will feel very sorry for asking it so straight. – Little Man Oct 2 '17 at 18:46
  • 1

It's your good friend, so go ahead, ask away. "Do you remember that time I had to pay for the tickets? Do you think you can repay it in the coming days?" or something.

It should turn out well, considering that your friend currently is in a good condition financially. If he agrees to it, perhaps, he'll repay it soon.

There's no need to feel shy about this here because you're not asking him his money, it is your own. And you're not asking to return money when he's down. So, I see no harm in this. Go ahead. He's a friend. :)

  • As I said in other comments, my biggest concern is that I will feel very sorry for asking the repay so straightforward. The thing is that I am looking for a workaround not for a morally right solution. Although I am very pleased to get many answers, unfortunately, all of them lack the ingenuity that I am looking for. – Little Man Oct 4 '17 at 0:05
  • 5
    @LittleMan well, tbh, I disagree with your proposed approach. Beating around the bush is not a good idea here. – NVZ Oct 4 '17 at 2:48

Since he's leaving your city soon, you could ask him if he needs some help buying the ticket back. Something like:

Ehi, did you fix [his problem with the credit card]? Do you need some help to buy the ticket this time too?

This way you will remind him that he owes you some money, but at the same time you won't directly mention the debt or your will of having your money back. If he's just absent-minded, this should be enough.


Although I have received many good answers, as a person who feels very uncomfortable when talking about money with friends, I did the thing that wasn't mentioned in any answer. I simply didn't ask my friend to return my money.

And it proved to be correct! On the last day of his stay in our city when we met he remembered that he owes me money and immediately paid his debt. Maybe that was a solution in my specific case but it can also apply to other people as well. The lesson I learned from my question is that a good friendship is above money. And I kind of feel bad that I was so worried about my money.

  • 2
    Please don't take any offense. I feel like this is something you can work on, if you're interested in self-improvement. There are many people out there that will take your gentle and somewhat timid behaviour as an invitation to use/abuse you. Standing up for yourself is important, and there is nothing shameful or bad about it. It takes practice and does not make you less of a friend or good person. – René Roth Jun 8 '18 at 11:49
  • 3
    This doesn't work if the friend genuinely forgot about the loan. – Lawrence Jun 8 '18 at 12:19
  • 1
    It is mind bending to realize that oneself did not realize that this is a valid option. And noticing that nobody else found it does not help much. I'm still irritated! And then recognizing it is the best answer would be also nontrivial. I thank you for educating me with this answer. – Volker Siegel Aug 22 '18 at 14:54

If you want to be implicit about it, you could try to mention or talk about the events around the loan:

Credit Card

Maybe you think about cancelling your card or switching to another provider. You could directly refer to the loan, without mentioning the money (along the line of "Maybe next time I can't help you with payment") or even ask him, if he already got one and if he is satisfied with it.


Ask about the website he bought the ticket on. Perhaps, you would want to buy there something for yourself one day?


Was he satisfied with the service or how was the traveling?

Any other event from that day

If there was something notable, even if totally unrelated, you could bring up the payment indirectly ("Remember when we bought that ticket for you...") to point towards the day/time that other event happened.

These are really indirect approaches and so they may well not work. But you could use more of them, maybe on two different days, if you have that much time left.


I don't think you need to go beating around the bush. Seems like your friend won't mind a direct request like NVZ's suggestion, however it's you who is not comfortable being straightforward. So, adding "I need it" will make it less straightforward (I do this all the time when asking payback).

Hi, do you remember the 60 Euros you borrowed back then? I kinda need it [soon] [for ... or to ...]. Do you think you can pay it back soon?

If you're like me, don't want to say something untrue, you don't have to use the word "soon" or elaborate the "why". After all, we always need money, don't we?

  • I can't do that, because I need this money long term, not right away and my friend knows it. So my concern is that I will feel very sorry for asking the repay so straightforward. The thing is that I am looking for a workaround not for a morally right solution. Although I am very pleased to get many answers, unfortunately, all of them lack the ingenuity that I am looking for. – Little Man Oct 4 '17 at 0:05
  • 2
    @LittleMan if all the answers disagree with your approach, that says something about the approach. – NVZ Oct 4 '17 at 2:50
  • @NVZ, not all, only 2 :) I know that the right thing to do is what you've proposed, but for a super-sensitive person as me, it's very hard to digest the uncomfortability of the straightforwardness of such request for many days if not months. – Little Man Oct 4 '17 at 11:02

If the indirect implications mentioned in other questions don't work, but you want to make sure that you're not being too direct when you're asking, I think it would help to phrase it carefully, e.g., "Hey I was just going over my bank statement yesterday and I was wondering, had you paid me back for that time when X"? In particular I think the following help:

  • Giving some completely casual reason for bringing this up now. You probably don't want to give the impression that you've been meaning to ask for days and it's been making you uncomfortable (even if it's true). The reason doesn't need to be real, of course, just pick something simple that might have reminded you. Other option "I was buying a ticket for Y and it reminded me of that time when X..."

  • Giving some impression that you have some doubt about whether they had reimbursed you or not, because it is more gentle than pointing out directly that they haven't (even if you know, and everyone knows, that they haven't). The only risk with this is that they might also be unsure if they are very absent-minded... but in this case they should be fine with taking your word if you insist.


If he is absent minded, just remind him. If you lent money to me, I might forget it (although that is unlikely because I don't like owing people money), and in that case I would be grateful of a reminder so I can pay it back, instead of annoying a friend by not paying back.

If he is not absent minded, well, just pretend that he is. Assume the best of people. Then see above: An absent minded friend will be grateful that you remind him.

Now about making up stories and lying: Don't. The fact is plain and simple: You lent him money, therefore he needs to pay it back. There is no need for explanations. There is no need to say that you need the money. There would be absolutely no need to lie about needing the money. He borrowed money, you want it back, that's enough. Especially among friends. If he doesn't have the money in his pocket, he has a bank card. If he doesn't have it with him, you can go to his home, take the bank card, go to the nearest cash machine, take the money. There's no excuse.

Hi, do you remember the 60 Euros you borrowed back then? I kinda need it [soon] [for ... or to ...]. Do you think you can pay it back soon?

Better: Hi, do you remember the 60 Euros you borrowed back then? (There should be an offer to pay back immediately, that's what you would get from me. If that offer doesn't come then...) You'll need to pay it back. Today would be a good time. (If there are any excuses then... ) You had my money for six week. Don't you think that's long enough? If you don't have the money, maybe your dad could lend it to you? Can you call him? Like, right now? Or give me his phone number, and I will call him?

If you really, really can't talk to him, for larger sums there is an alternative approach: You can sell your debt to a debt collector. You'll probably get 40-45% of the money owed. The debt collector will get 100% of the money owed from the person, who will then be your former friend.

  • 2
    Well, that escalated really fast... – Little Man Oct 5 '17 at 12:58
  • After one month. One month is plenty of time to repay money. – gnasher729 Oct 6 '17 at 18:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.