Jennifer Thomas is a bestselling author, psychologist, speaker, consultant & apology critic

What to Say When… A Friend Asks You to Bail Her Out.


Jane has known Tina, a neighbor, for 5 years. The two have grown close in recent years, as Tina has confided in Jane about the loss of her marriage, the rebellion of her teen daughter, and many financial problems that were revealed to Tina during the divorce. To date, Jane has provided a listening ear and a shoulder for Tina to lean on. This week, however, Tina reports that she will lose her car unless she comes up with four thousand dollars. Tina’s mom agreed to give her some money, but she is asking Jane to loan her the remaining money. Jane’s heart is heavy, as she regrets all the hardships that Tina is going through. She feels terribly torn. On the one hand, she could tap into her savings to loan Tina the money. On the other hand, Jane doesn’t want to risk losing her savings.


What to Say:

Jane: My friend, I’m so sorry to hear about your financial problems. I know you need your car in order to be able to get to work and chip away at your pile of bills. I do so wish I could take away your husband’s failures and the huge mountain of debt you are under.

Tina: I know. Can you please help me out just this once?

Jane: Listen, you know I value our friendship very much.  I wish I had extra money laying around my house that I could give to you, but I don’t. Lets think about other ways you can quickly cut your expenses or raise some cash.

Tina: Oh, well. I’ve gotta run but I’ll call you tomorrow about that idea.

Why This Works:

Jane shows concern for Tina. She is assertive about what she will and will not do. Jane says what she wishes could be true even though it’s not. In my counseling work, clients often tell me that they just want to know that others “get it” when they describe their struggles. Even when you have to tell someone “No”, lead off with the caring step of saying what you wish for them.

What Doesn’t Work:

Lending money to friends and family members. That is what banks are for. If they can’t get a loan, they might be poor money managers. They will truly plan to pay you back when their finances improve, but their finances rarely improve. They are going down a slippery slope, and when you lend them money, you just join their stressful slide. A lender automatically become the “boss” of the borrower’s spending. When they show you new things they have bought before paying you back, you will inevitably feel slighted. Loans are harmful to relationships.


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