It Takes a Surprisingly Small Amount of Money to Ruin a Friendship Forever

friends in conflict are sitting on the bench and sulking
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Have you ever had that one friend who conveniently forgets their wallet whenever you go out to eat?

“I’ve got you next time, bro,” he says with a smile.

When next time rolls around, though, his debit card magically disappears!

We’ve all known that somebody, and according to a new study, the debt they accumulate can lead to a massive falling out between friends.

Lending Money to Friends Can Get Really Awkward

The “Friends Again” report by Bank of America surveyed 1,000 people in the U.S. ages 18 and older. The findings revealed some not-so-happy results when it comes to lending money to friends.

According to the report, 77% of Americans believe IOUs are harmful to relationships; plus, 53% have seen friendships end over outstanding debt.

Thirty-six percent of respondents said $101 to $500 is enough money to end a friendship over.

Branndon Coelho, lead developer at The Penny Hoarder, once sold a friend his original Nintendo for $100, including all of his games.

His friend never paid him, though. Coelho eventually decided to tell him to not worry about the money, but the situation had lasting effects on their friendship.

“There is a mental block anytime that I think about contacting him, though… we haven’t talked in years. I think it put a strain on our relationship and made me realize where I stood in his world,” said Coelho.

It might not strictly be just because of money owed, though. When it comes down to it, almost half the respondents say asking friends to pay them back makes them uncomfortable.

How to Avoid Losing a Friend Over Money

Coelho says he wasn’t uncomfortable asking his friend for the money — it just became clear he was never going to get it.

Either way, an IOU situation is awkward. Do we ask for the money? Do we seem rude or pushy if we do? Should we trust that our friend will pay it back?

If you have a friend who is racking up a bill when it comes to their IOU, here are a few ways you can handle it without losing the friendship along the way:

  • Write it all down. If it seems like your friend always asks you to spot them some cash, start writing down every time they do and how much. Maybe your friend doesn’t even realize just how often they ask you for money. If you’re comfortable, sit down with them and show them the list — it might change their perspective.
  • Ask them to digitally transfer you the funds. This is the best way to make sure you get your money ASAP. There are tons of free apps out there, such as PayPal or Venmo, that make transferring money to friends easy and fee-free. This works amazingly for that “forgot my debit card” moment.
  • Draft a contract. Clearly, you’re not going to go this route for splitting the dinner tab, but sometimes a friend needs a big chunk of change for their rent or other bills. If that’s the case, write up a contract that states the exact amount of time they have to pay you back and any interest they’ll owe.

Kelly Anne Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.