How do I ask for money from people who care about me in a way that makes it easy for them to refuse?
March 31, 2011 1:25 PM   Subscribe

How do I ask for money from people who care about me in a way that makes it easy for them to refuse?

My situation is pretty bad right now, both healthwise and financially. I'm pretty severly depressed and have let everything go. I'm behind on my rent and have no income at the moment.

Things are improving though (I hope!). I'm taking steps to get better (and I live in a country where it's not going to be a finacial burden for me), so that's good, I guess. I'm entitled to financial support from the state and but it will take weeks, maybe a month for it to materialize.

The problem is, I need money now, to pay the rent and a few small bills. I have friends and relatives that are relatively well off and I'm going to ask them for help. I hate this. I hate being this leech who asks for their hard-earned money. But I don't want to loose my home. So, I'm going to ask.

(Also, it's not possible for me to get a loan from a bank and I've already used all my credit in my one credit card. My landlady needs me to pay my rent now, she's been very patient and kind alreaydy.)

And here is the question. I would like to find a way to ask, that makes it as easy and painless as possible to the other person to refuse, if that is their wish. I don't want them to feel guilty or bad about refusing. Selfishly, I also don't want to lower their opinion of me (though that might be too much to ask). I'm going to have to explain why I'm asking, but I don't want to make it sound like it's their responsiblity to save me. It's difficult for me to think on my feet right now, so I think I'm going to write myself some bullet-points to help to get through the call. I'm also quite weepy and I think it would help if I had the thing quite clearly formulated in my mind so that I could avoid crying (because crying will definitely make this thing harder on everyone and I don't want that).

Additional problem is that this is not the first time. The last time I asked was several years ago, so I'm not constantly asking for money, but I've done it before. I've always paid back as soon as I could (within few months usually), but it's not a good thing and I'm very ashamed already. This is a mess of my own making, I know.

Please, be kind in your answers. I know, it's bad to ask money from friends and family, but I'm so scared right now and I don't see any other way. And please don't analyze my tone or writing style too much, I'm not writing in my native language here and will probably have made many mistakes and chosen odd figures of speech.

(I'm not sure if this is relevant, but since this will be anonymous, I'll add some extra information about myself. I'm a woman in my late thirties, living in northern Europe. Unemployed. Very depressed for the last five moths or so. I'm getting treated, but it just started. I'm applying for the financial support and I've been told there should be no problems there, it will just take a bit of time.)

Thank you for your answers!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total)
Try explaining your situation to them and then ask if there are any odd jobs you can do for them in exchange for a little money to help you get by. They might say, "Don't worry about it. How much do you need?" or they might actually need your help with something they can pay you for. Or, if they can't help you, they can say, "I wish I had something I could use your help on, but I don't right now! I'll let you know, though!" which could mean anything without being a blatant, awkward refusal.
posted by katillathehun at 1:33 PM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

1. Ask for a specific amount.
2. If you are asking for rent, suggest that they make the cheque out directly to your landlady. This will make them worry less about your mismanaging the money.
3. If you plan to pay it back, specify when it will be paid back.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:35 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have been in a similar situation with a friend recently. He is getting a backdated government check this week, and will be paying me back promptly. (He owes me less than $100, but I know it helped him buy food and pay for transit expenses. He owes a few other friends similar amounts; they're all getting paid back, too.)

I was glad to loan it to him and help him out. It just felt like the right thing to do. So don't feel bad about asking your friends and family -- they love you and they care about you, and you certainly don't sound like a mooch if you haven't asked them for anything for several years.

Make it clear that you are asking for a small, temporary loan, rather than a handout. (If the money is coming from the state in a month, that's even better -- they can see that you just need help to tide you over, right now.)

Emphasize your gratitude, and tell them that you will be able to pay them back as soon as you are able (in regular installments of xxx? however you want to phrase it).

And good luck. I'm sure you'll be able to sort this out soon, but I know it probably sucks at the moment.
posted by vickyverky at 1:41 PM on March 31, 2011

You say you've paid them back in the past, which should be all that's needed from those that care about you to want to do it again. You have shown that you are responsible about borrowing and returning the money.

Just say, "I feel badly asking again, but this is the situation, and this is how it will get better soon so I can repay you. If you can't do it for any reason at this time, know that I totally understand, and appreciate your past help/having listened. Either way, our relationship is the most important thing".

Seriously, I know it's really hard, but these people love you and you have solutions coming down the pipe, so it will get better soon! They will be happy to help!
posted by ldthomps at 1:42 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm not writing in my native language here and will probably have made many mistakes and chosen odd figures of speech.

I, for one, didn't even notice.

When my boyfriend and I were poor (unemployed with no benefits) and couldn't afford to eat and didn't have any income, I asked several different members of my family if I could borrow whatever they could afford. I told them we needed to eat was short on rent. I told them it was only temporary until we started working again.
I do not have anyone wealthy in my family (and my boyfriend's small family was pretty poor at the time)... so I ended up getting a little bit from 4-5 different family members. Enough to hold me over for a month or two.
Our family is large and most of them have been through ups and downs... so we're always happy to lend money (even if its not that much) to help each other out. If you feel like your friends/relatives are this way, then I'm sure you will not be met with a negative replies.

I should mention, before asking for money, we sold all our DVDs, CDs, books, my boyfriends guitars and amps, clothing and collectibles. That held us over for a bit before taking the plunge of asking for money.
My boyfriend also helped his his father and uncle with misc. things in exchange for some money. Maybe you could offer some services if they live close by. Mowing lawns, house cleaning, babysitting, etc.

Wording it really depends on the closeness of you and you relatives and their personalities, in my opinion.
posted by KogeLiz at 1:46 PM on March 31, 2011

I was recently in a very similar position to the one you are describing, except I was the friend who was being asked to lend money. To me, the money -- while obviously not insignificant -- was not as important to me as knowing my friend was serious about righting his ship and tackling his depression and financial issues head on. I didn't mind helping out a close friend in a time of need, but I didn't want to be an enabler who allowed his friend to put off getting a job, getting in therapy, etc a month longer because this month's rent was looked after. He told me all the right things and seemed very serious about getting a job and trying to become self-sufficient, while tackling his depression. A month or two later, he was still unemployed and making excuses about this fact, and in fact asked to borrow more money, to which I had to say no.

So my advice to you is that if you are asking to borrow money from someone you care about, that is okay so long as you are not telling them what they want to hear just because you are desperate for money. If you tell them you are going to take a series of steps to stablize your life and your finances, DO THEM. With my friend, I felt like once his sense of panic and urgency subsided somewhat, so did his commitment to doing whatever it took to working on his issues. I do see him trying a bit more now in regards to work and therapy, but we are well past the point where he assured me he'd be able to repay me the loan. The money is almost irrelevant to me, to be honest. I just wanted to know it was actually HELPING him get better, and not hindering him from having to solve his own problems. If you borrow money from your friends, please try to consider it an investment in your life from someone who loves you, and work your absolute hardest to not let them regret it.

I hope this helps in some way.
posted by noboru_wataya at 1:47 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

1. your English is easily better than 75% of my coworkers (native English speakers) so congratulations on that.
2. your feelings and concerns are well thought out, honest, and sincere.

i would simply state it to them as here: "hello, i'd like to say a lot all at once, and at the end i'd like you to give me a simple guilt free answer....... insert everything you said above...... thanks for listening"

good luck, i hope things work out well for you!
posted by chasles at 1:55 PM on March 31, 2011

I suggest not letting them answer right away, even if they seem to want to, and not making them say no - ie, no is the default answer, silence means no, etc.

Maybe something like - I'd really appreciate it if you could help me, and if you can, my paypal account is xyz. Then hang up or move on with the conversation.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:25 AM on April 2, 2011

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