Raise your hand if you’ve fronted money to a friend or relative only to realize that your “loan” ended up being a “gift,” money you never saw again.
We’ve all been there—and probably will be again. A survey by American Consumer Credit Counseling found that 82% of adults would loan money to a family member in financial need. Another 66% would lend to a friend.
In a perfect world, borrowers would quickly pay back their IOUs. But the onus is often on lenders to bring up repayment. After all, as at least one study has found, borrowers sometimes just forget and may even incorrectly assume that they’ve paid up.
To keep the peace, we avoid collecting and regretfully file the experience under: “friends and money, lessons learned.”
But it doesn’t have to always end so poorly for lenders. These three online tools serve as financial liaisons to help coordinate and move along person-to-person payments—so that friends can stay friends.
Booked a group trip on your credit card? Use Splitzee
Let’s say you’ve finished booking a group vacation for you and three friends who’ve all agreed to pay you back.
The upside is that by securing all reservations on your credit card, you earn quadruple the points. The downside is that you could be waiting for a while for your friends to pay you back—and rack up interest charges in the meantime.
Head to Splitzee and create a vacation “pool” ahead of the trip, and invite all three friends to participate. They can pay you back via the site using either a credit or debit card. You can then cash out by either having the site send you a check (which takes up to three business days) or make a direct transfer to your bank account (usually three to five business days).
To get your pals to act sooner rather than later, you might want to add a note of explanation: "I know our trip seems so far away still, but I need to pay off my card’s balance by the end of the month to avoid interest. So if you can make a payment by the 20th, I'd really appreciate it."
If you want, you can allow everyone in the group to see who’s paid up and who hasn’t, which provides some added pressure.
If the total amount of money collected per pool is under $200 there’s no fee. After that, the site collects 5%. So, for example, if you collect a total of $500, the Splitzee sends you $475.
(If you use the collected money to buy a select product directly from one of the site’s retail partners, no fees apply—but that won't help with your unpaid credit card balance)
Paid for your roommate’s share of the rent, Cheetos and HBO last month? Use Splitwise
As the first of the month nears, that’s a perfect time to remind your roommate that his portion of the rent and living expenses is due plus the $542 you spotted him last month.
Don’t leave this reminder via a Post-It note on the fridge. Mention it in person and say, “Hey, you know, I’ve been thinking it would be helpful for the both of us to begin tracking all of our shared expenses in one place.”
Say you found this interesting free site called Splitwise. There you can create a dashboard listing your joint expenses and invite your roommate to see exactly what he owes (and what you owe).
Splitwise lets users settle up their debts by recording a cash payment, sending money via PayPal or using Venmo. It also sends monthly reminders and alerts so you don’t have to keep chasing down your roommate.
Covered your friend’s steak and martini dinner last week? Use Square Cash
The next time the two of you go out on the town again, and the bill arrives, remind your friend that, “I think you owe me, right?”
Assuming the dinner bill’s roughly the same as last time say, “Are you okay to pay this time?” In the same breath, add, “If not, no worries...You can just pay me back online. It’s really easy.”
If she goes for the latter, introduce Square Cash, a mobile app that lets users transfer money using an email address and their debit card for free to anyone within a matter of seconds.
Farnoosh Torabi is a contributing editor at Money and the author of the book When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. More of her columns and videos for Money.com: