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20-40-60 Etiquette---Time to pay up!



By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace


QUESTION: I went to dinner and the movies with my friend. She forgot to bring her money and asked me to loan her $40. I did so. Time passed, and she did not offer to pay me back. Do I bring it up the next time I see her or should I just let it go?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: I would blow it off. If you feel like saying something, next time you go to somewhere casually say, “Is it my turn to get this or yours? I can’t remember?”

Hopefully that will help her jog her memory. OR you could “forget” your wallet. Ha!

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I think you can be direct with your friend and gently ask her in a nice way.

Forty dollars is a lot of money for an impromptu loan, and I would hate for that to hurt a friendship on either side – yours out of anger or hers out of guilt.

You could also go for a little more vague approach: Maybe the next time you make plans you could even say something like, “Do you want to get it this time, since I got it last time? That way we’ll be even.”

That kind of handling could backfire – it depends on the type of relationship you have with your friend – but it’s a way of evening things out without asking awkwardly for a payment.

I would never mind a reminder, and sometimes I DO forget or get busy – I’m terrible about getting things in the mail – and I would rather keep the friend than have something like that fester.

That being said, it weighs heavily on me when I have to borrow money like that, and I try to avoid it.

HELEN’S ANSWER: How awkward! You were really sweet to help your friend out.

Your friend may have forgotten that she asked you for a loan that evening, so politely remind her the next time you see her.

I think that you should only remind her once. It is not your job to keep asking for it, but it’s not likely you will forget she owes you.

Remember this the next time you get together, and don’t loan her any more money, or ask her if she wants to pay the bill since she still owes you from last time.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Chuck Ainsworth, local business leader: Is the friendship more important than the money?

If it is, forget about the money and think of it as a gift. Things seem to balance out with long-term friends. If not, be direct and ask for your money in a nice way.

As Polonius said to his son in Hamlet, “for loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›