Ask Louise: How to deal with a freeloader

In this column, Louise Fox, founder of The Etiquette Ladies, answers all your social conundrums and questions about modern manners.

money, budget, paying bills

Photo, Getty Images.

Dear Louise,

I have a friend who cries poor every time we go out and expects me to cover her.  What is the best way to bring it up without causing resentment or ruining the friendship?  Should I say something to her about her financial situation or ask her to pay me back?

The next time before you go out, be direct with your friend and tell her you can’t foot the bill for her. This needn’t be done in an offensive way just say “Sarah, are you flush? Because I am a little short and I’m afraid I can’t pick up the tab for both of us.” If your free-loading friend still continues to stick you with the tab you may have to reconsider how much you value this friendship.

Talking about someone’s financial situation is awkward and depending on your relationship can be inappropriate. Unless you are very close or she asks for your opinion or your help, and you are able to offer some advice or give assistance, don’t discuss it.

Face to face requests for money owed can be awkward and embarrassing for both parties. A polite and convenient method of requesting repayment is by e-mail and using the Interac e-transfer invite tool. It is perfect because it doesn’t require any banking information and you can customize your e mail message: “Hey, I was wondering if you can send me an Interac e-transfer for the $30 you borrowed Friday. It will save you a trip to the bank and we won’t have to arrange to meet in person.” Provide her with a link to the Interac website and she can transfer the money through her online banking system.

Likely, she’ll think twice about asking you to cover for her the next time.

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Louise Fox, recognized as Canada’s Etiquette Expert, is the owner of The Etiquette Ladies and She has over 20 years experience in hospitality and special event planning industries, and is Director of Eastern Operations of Civility Experts Worldwide and Certification Panelist and Master Trainer for the International Civility Trainers’ Consortium . She is a frequent guest on Breakfast Television, Entertainment Tonight, MTV, Business News Network, Global News and many others.