How To Get The Money Your Friends Owe You Without Everyone Hating You

With covid restrictions changing, it's officially hen party season - if you're in charge of organising things, here's how to get all the money you're owed and retain some friendships...

Hen do money collection

by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

From May 17, weddings of up to 30 people are allowed at a ceremony and reception at a covid-secure venues indoors and outdoors (including in private gardens). And, if the government's roadmap continues unbothered by a new variant or issue otherwise, from June 21 there could be no restrictions on weddings full stop.

This means that we're officially also declaring hen do season officially open - whether it's in small groups inside, bigger parties outside, or just PLANS being made now that things might (fingers crossed might maybe please!) actually be able to go ahead later in the year.

With the world starting to open up more, there's a lot of plans that might start to be made where there had been none before. So we need to brush up on some skills.

So whether it's a hen do, birthday or a joint holiday, how do claw back that £8.75 each person owes you for the train gins?

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What Will Weddings Look Like In 2021?

Hen dos (the chief offender), baby showers, joint parties, belated celebrations, envelopes for work colleagues, joint holidays – they're ALL COMING back. But there’s only one thing worse than getting the email, and that's sending one. Especially if it’s one of those situations where some of the group are your mates, and the rest are your best mate’s friends from university who hate that you ‘school girls’ are organising the hen and will do anything to make your life hard.

Should you find yourself in that unfortunate fix, here’s how to get money out of people without sounding like a total cow.

Offer options

I recently asked a group of girls for money for a baby shower present… and got it. Promptly. Before I’d even had to lay out my own cash.

Expressing surprise, a friend said she’d liked my tactic of getting straight to the point and saying, ‘We’re putting in £20, you can join, or not – and if you want to join, choose how much you want to put in’. Oh, and only when people had agreed, did I send them my bank details.

Obviously this doesn’t help if you’re booking a villa, but try being more laid-back when it comes to presents. As long as your friend is happy when they get the present, does it really matter if Bitch Becky only stuck in a fiver?

But don’t offer options if you’re not going to consider them

‘Hi guys, so that’s the plan. We hope you agree it’s great, but if you think it’s too much money, please, please do let us know.’ That’s nice, isn’t it? Well no – not if you don’t mean it.

I once replied saying I thought a hen do was just too much money and is there anything I could duck out of, or that could be reconsidered? It took me a lot to say that – I’m not ‘that’ person and I felt terrible, but I had that crushing-can’t-breathe-how-will-I-eat feeling in my chest when I saw the cost of a hen do I’d been invited to and added on the cost of travel. The reply I got was very dismissive. I was wrong, I was told – the train would never cost that much (it did). And they would of course see what they could do (they didn’t). I’ve not spoken to a single person who asked to pay less and got anything but a massive guilt-trip.

If it can’t be done cheaper, don’t suggest otherwise.

Don’t forget travel

‘£380 seems reasonable, right? Right?’ goes the chain of emails between you and your ever-fraught fellow-organisers. Ok, even if it is, don’t forget people have to travel. Especially if you’re organising anything across a few friendship groups, your potential debtors are scattered across the country. And it can cost almost £100 extra to travel to a hen do on a train. Add on at least another £35 for train gins.

Suck up deposits

Sorry, but if you’re organising, you might have to suck up a deposit. Do not be that person who emails asking for everyone to pay their fourteenth of the £75 deposit for your bar booking. It makes everyone hate you. Transferring money is physically painful – do your maths and ask for lump sums, don’t make them do it twice.

Don’t ask for more. And more. And more.

This is key. People will hate you for asking for dosh after the fact. Even if you’re a charity.

Confession: I once put a tiny dent in a car as a teenager as I eagerly swung my door open in a car park – eager to get to Bay Trading, no doubt. I panicked, and decided to move spaces. Noticing a child’s seat in the back, I swore that instead of leaving a note, I’d donate £50 to a children’s charity. Don’t question my logic, I was 17. Until my family left that address nine years later, I got a letter every fortnight asking for more. Lots of people I spoke to had similar incidents (but they’d donated out of goodness, not guilt).

In a similar fashion, someone I know got asked to pay for a final clean of a flat, 18 months after they’d checked out with the estate agent and someone had taken over their room. Er, no.

Budget beforehand, so that last round doesn’t leave you out of pocket. Because nobody is transferring you £4.34 a week later.

Don’t give ridiculous deadlines

If you ask people for £250 in the next week, on the 18th of the month, you aren’t getting that cash. It’s great that you’re so effing rolling in it that you’re that person in the office at 4.35pm on the 28th of each month going ‘Oh yeah, today’s pay day, I totally forgot!’. Most of us live our lives on a monthly nose-diving roller-coaster.

And give people time to pay. I once got asked for £60 two days before payday. I (kind of) forgot. Two days later, I got two texts, within 30 seconds of each other that both read ‘DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME!!!!!!’ Fair play, I owed her, but I was suddenly fuming. Don’t do it.

Go with the lowest common denominator wins

I have one group of friends in the same industry as me who earn a similar amount – every other friendship group ranges from students to bankers.

I’m not telling you how much to charge for things like hens (I’m not getting into that terrifying friendship-ending debate), but before you ask for money, maybe do your research on who you’re emailing, especially if you’re not their not your friends. Are you demanding a PHD student give you £450 a week before they get their loan through?

Rich people aren’t going to complain about spending too little, but the less flush in your group could be hurt by mad money demands.

If you’ve invited people for dinner, don’t you effing dare

A bottle of wine, offering to bring desert, that’s lovely. At least two friends told me they’d been invited for dinner and asked to pay between £2.80 and £3.60 for their portion.

Your friend won’t say it, so I will: everyone hates you and it’s inexplicably ridiculous that you’ve asked for that money. If you can’t afford it, don’t invite me over. Sod off.

A rhyme don’t make it fine

You’re having a wedding. You’re lucky enough to have found the love of your life years ago and bought and stocked a flat, so you don’t need a lemon juicer. Lucky you.

Should you take that step of therefore asking for money from people, do not think rhyming makes it any better. Writing ‘We hope you don’t think we’re being funny / When we say, please could we instead have money?’ makes it worse, not better. And also poor – because you’re not getting my money.

LOLs don’t equal Lira

Yes, I’m old enough to know what Italian Lira were, so pay attention. Writing a cutesy email, filled with over-explaining sentences justifying your money choices that is 1,400 words because you made it sooooooo funny, doesn’t help. Don’t write 158 words on why I’m paying a twenty-third of the £100 a stripper cost. I get it – it’s a stripper. You’re winding everyone up. And at the end of the day, your Sort Code is going at the bottom, no matter what. In fact, maybe put your Sort Code at the top for ease - extra tip.

In fact, the longer the email, the less likely anyone is going to make it to the bottom. It’s staying in their ‘flagged’ folder for six weeks.

Provide an incentive

Even knowing how annoying it is to wait on money, doesn’t make you good at paying. I was terribly late paying my share of a holiday cottage recently until my friend, on a group WhatsApp, very nicely and softly asked if I could pay, as it was only my money we were waiting for and until I’d paid, the cottage wasn’t secured. I got on that one, before I’d even stopped blushing from embarrassment.

In the same way, setting out where people’s money is going, always avoids confusion.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What Will Weddings Look Like In 2021?

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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