How to Tactfully Remind Someone They Owe You Money

If you haven't been repaid on time, you're going to have to confront the borrower.

Businesses that are owed money have a number of options open to them. They can start by pursuing debtors themselves, and then move onto using collections agencies or the courts if the debt isn't paid in a timely fashion. But if you've lent money to a friend or family member, things aren't quite as clear cut. If someone's refusing to pay back money you've lent them, you can't be afraid of broaching the subject if you want to be repaid.

Avoid the urge to ask for your money back on the day you arranged it should be repaid. Although it's poor form of the person who borrowed money from you not to pay it back on time, and it would not be impolite of you to ask for repayment on the arranged date, you should allow some leeway before broaching the subject - if you can afford to wait.

Choose an appropriate moment to raise the issue with the person who has borrowed money from you. Bringing the subject up while dining with other friends or family members or any other scenario where a third party is present should be avoided. Try to engineer a situation where you're alone with the borrower and spirits are reasonably high.

Remind the borrower of the outstanding debt in a polite but straightforward fashion. There's every chance that he may have completely forgotten about the loan. Something along the lines of: "Sorry to bring this up, but do you know when you might be able to repay me the money I lent you?" Be willing to listen to as your debtor may have a valid reason why he hasn't been able to pay you back.

Ask again after another week has passed if you still haven't been repaid. Be a little firmer this time, especially if you really need the money back. Outline the reasons why you need to be repaid and highlight any problems you're experiencing as a result of non-payment.

Tell the borrower that you're disappointed you still haven't been repaid after another week has passed. You can consider threatening action by taking the person to small claims court to get your money back. Of course, this depends on how much you have lent. Going to court over $20 isn't going to be worth your time.

Assess the likelihood of getting your money back if you still haven't been repaid despite the repeated requests. If the borrower is clearly in financial difficulty, offer the option to repay the loan in small installments. If it looks like they have no intention of repaying you, you can choose to start taking a harder line and sue them, or refuse to talk to them. Or, you could put it down to experience and make a mental note never to lend any money to him in the future.

Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.