Borrowing Etiquette: How to Deal with Debt

It’s March. Let’s talk about money. These are tough times and if we are being honest, things aren’t getting any easier. Our financial responsibilities aren’t letting up either, Despite the associated stigma, there’s no shame in asking for help to meet these obligations, especially in dire circumstances. The trouble is usually how to handle being indebted, avoiding embarrassments and paying back the loan.

According to, borrowing is the temporary acquisition of money with the intent to repay the amount borrowed. Like anything else, when you borrow money, you assume a debt to the lender. In business, borrowing is encouraged in the hopes that the contract will profit both parties and it is referred to as a loan. In personal finance however, borrowing is often frowned at and discouraged because it is hardly beneficial to the lender, default rates are high, emotions get involved and relationships can be destroyed irreparably.

Nigerian Naira

Nigerian Naira

To avoid this, here are a few do’s and don’ts for borrowing.

DO: Have a payment plan before borrowing. Make it clear to your lender when you will be paying back the amount owed and how. Discuss payment methods and consider installments for large sums. Also, be specific with future payment dates. Discuss this in detail. Finally, it helps to have a witness if it is possible. This gives you credibility and creates peace of mind and mutual respect for both you and your lender.

DO: Do Call if for some reason you are unable to meet up with your agreed date.

DO: Do pay as much as you can back as soon as you have it, especially if you are already behind on payments.

DO: Do pay back through an account transfer. This way you have evidence of payments made.

DO: Do stick to your payment plan and try your best to pay on time — every time. If you have the money before hand, pay up. The sooner you are free of debt, the better for both of you. Where you can’t meet up for whatever reason, discuss this openly and in detail with your lender and come to an understanding.

DO: For official loans with commercial, micro-finance or mortgage banks, do find the best interest rate and don’t forget to read the fine print which detail admin charges and VAT. Know exactly how much you are obligated to pay.

DO: Maintain a cordial relationship with your lender even after your debt is paid. You never know when you’ll need their help again.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Nigerian Women Can’t Save

DON’T: Don’t be so carried away by getting the money that you leave your payment plan to chance. It will make you look irresponsible, and will have your lender calling at random or even in public for the money. Save yourself the disturbance and humiliation.

DON’T: Wait for your lender to call you, nothing good comes of that. Call them as agreed, with updates.

DON’T: Block your lender when he/she try to reach you or be evasive in anyway. You are a borrower not a thief. There’s no need to run or hide.

DON’T: Don’t tell any lies. Be truthful about your shortcomings. It’s one thing to be broke and another to be deceitful.

DON’T: Please don’t borrow money without telling your spouse. Statistically, money or the lack there of is the greatest source of conflict in relationships. If you intend to take a loan, discuss it in detail with your partner who may benefit from or be obligated to support in paying back the amount borrowed.

DON’T: Please, please, please don’t borrow more than you earnestly know you can afford to payback. It’s just irresponsible.

DON’T: Don’t be silly about your debt, especially if it is interest-free. Interest-free means the lender has nothing to gain by helping you out, so please respect yourself. Don’t say anything like “I thought you dashed me”. If they dashed you, they would remember. If they are asking, they didn’t. It’s that simple.

DON’T: Don’t say “Is it not just “XYZ amount”?“. It is not. If it were, you won’t have had to borrow it in the first place. No amount of money is “just”, especially if you don’t have it. Check your ego and curb your tongue.

DON’T: Don’t payback in kind what you borrowed in cash unless expressly agreed upon between you and your lender. As in “See oh, I’m sorry I don’t have your money right now, but I have lovely wrappers in my shop I am yet to sell. Will you take XYZ in payment instead?

DON’T: Gifts and debt payments are two very different things. Never assume that because you gave a sack of yams at Christmas your 30k debt is clear. It just doesn’t work that way.

DON’T: Don’t fight your lender under any circumstance. Beg and appeal for time or sensibility, especially if it was an interest-free loan.

DON’T: Don’t borrow frivolously. Be smart about borrowing and be sure it is absolutely necessary. If you borrow too often from too many people you are bound to get in trouble, mix up payments and give yourself and whole village a bad name.

DON’T: Don’t be that friend who only calls when they need financial help…except your lender is a bank.

Have any tips on Personal Finance and Borrowing? Let me know what you think in the comments!
As always, thank you for reading!

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