What is the right way to handle relatives who take long to pay debts?
DEAR ANNIE: I have helped my wife’s daughter and family financially many times over the past 15 years. Eighteen months ago, I loaned them US$600, and they promised they would pay me back. ( My previous loans were gifts.)
The daughter’s husband has a well-paying job, but he is slow to repay this loan. Three months ago, I received a check for US$40, along with more empty promises to pay off the rest. I haven’t seen any additional money. It is just another lie.
I was warned not to loan them money, but emotions got the better of me. What should I do? How can I ever trust them again? — Played for a Fool
Dear Played: You are being too hard on yourself. You love your wife and care about her child, so you have helped them financially. This is not a bad thing. The problem is that the “kids” are not responsible enough to repay the loan.
Talk to them. Say that you are going to set up a payment schedule, and ask how much they can afford to pay every month. No matter how little the amount, agree to it and say you expect to see it on the first of every month until the loan is repaid entirely. If they miss a payment, call and remind them. Be nice about it, but insistent, no matter how much they try to wriggle out of it. You can even set up an automatic payment plan that would take care of it without any reminders at all.
The trick is to be firm, but kind. No accusations or guilt. If they repay the entire loan without griping, we’d say you can trust them to do so again. But if they give you a hard time or refuse to cooperate, you’ll have to put your backbone in place and tell them the remaining US$560 is a gift, but there will be no more. And mean it.