Need help with how to ask a friend for help

I need some protocol advice!

I need to explain it though.

I would like to ask a friend for some significant financial assistance. This assistance is for another friend, whom I will call Robert, whom she knows of and has met (we want to marry when our annulments go through - which in our circumstances we are told is likely.) Robert is to sell his house and then when the Church says we are free to marry he will move here. Even if we do not marry, he needs to sell it as he is in a bad financial situation he needs to fix and this is the way to do it.

Robert needs to do some significant work on his house in order to sell it and be able to pay off mortgage and debt and still come out ahead. Its his only asset, and he can do ALL the work himself. I could go on more about why he needs to do the work, but this post could get long and complicated. So I will just say he needs to do the work and he needs the money for supplies.

He has drawn up detailed cost and time analysis for what needs to be done. He has already gotten started on his own and also with my financial help, painting much and also completely gutting and replacing a bathroom. But my funds are dry now.

He will get the money back to pay her from the top of the sale of the house OR from the top of his money he was willed him but is tied up (another long story, but closing that old matter is now being pursued legally and properly). There is no question she would get it back soon.

She has more means than most as a result of her intelligence and wisdom and her hard work over the years. We are friends through our common shared and valued Catholic faith. And I woudl prefer to never ask her for any money ever. We are in differing places financially but its not anything that ever comes up and I wish it never had to. I have never asked anyone for money, but I realize, sometimes we all need help.

So I am formulating in my mind how to ask. And I need to ask this week, or early next. (Then Robert leaves to return to his home (another state) and to do what work he can with the supplies he has, and I am not free to help him till summer, and he needs the supplies before that).

First of all, my friend can say no and she will still be my friend always. But I do want to make a good case for my friends needs, and I suspect the amount we are asking is something she would be able to do without too much trouble (but who can really know!) but I don’t want her to feel trapped or pressured in any way by my asking.

I want to invite her here (when my son isn’t home) to ask her, but I don’t want her to feel obligated if I serve her dinner (which I would do anyway!).

I thought we should both ask her, since it is for Robert. But maybe she will feel pressured with the two of us asking.

I want to ask her in person, but maybe I should tell her on the phone ahead of time I want to ask her for practical help with a problem???

Should I meet with her alone (she has met Robert, and they have talked, and she likes him and approves, etc., but she is MY friend) and ask her and then she can talk to the two of us if she feels she is still open when she hears me ask??

Just trying to think of the best least uncomfortable way more right way for me to ask her help, and not make her feel trapped, cornered, or obligated in anyway. So I would like some advice!

Thank you!

Honest opinion? Don’t ask her at all. I’ve never seen much good come from friends lending friends money. There are very few people in my life I would loan money to, & of that list, only one is a friend. The rest are family.

I wouldn’t do this, but I especially wouldn’t do it at my house. If you ask at all, it should be on neutral territory, and with fair warning. The whole thing squicks me out, especially since she doesn’t really know him well. Also, how much money are we talking about? It needs to be a sum that you could easily pay back by yourself if the deal went bad in some way.

Why can’t your guy friend wait? It sounds like he’s going to have the money soon and you would be able to help soon. I realize he may be behind on the mortgage for this property, but it usually takes a long time for a foreclosure to go through. I don’t know how things are now, but for a while, people were routinely three years behind on their mortgages before the banks got round to them. Unless papers have already been served, it may take a long time for the bank to take action. The worst case scenario is a foreclosure on the house. Second worst, a short sale. Third worst, a deed in lieu of foreclosure, etc.

“…also with my financial help…”

You’re not married. Do not be intermingling your finances or “helping” him financially. Labor is different, and not a bad way to figure out how compatible you are.

Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower is the slave of the lender.” It’s not, “the borrower is friends with the lender.”

Lord please help with the best and wisest resolutions to these problems.

Bad idea. Very bad idea.

Not much more than that can be said.

I would absolutely not ask her for him under any circumstances. Trust that Robert has the ability and intelligence to fix his own financial mess, and be patient while he does, even if it may take a long time, and even if you need to postpone your marriage somewhat. He’s worth the wait, right? :cool:

If he chooses not to act, then have faith that he can handle the consequences. **You do not need to “rescue” him from this situation. **

As loving and kind as it is of you to want to help him, this is not the way to do it, and it actually may damage your relationship with him AND with your friend over the long run. If Robert wants to get a loan (from your friend or elsewhere), let him approach it, present the information, and handle it his way, and you stay out of the middle of it.

And he could always call Dave Ramsey’s radio show and see what he advises. :wink:

I would NOT ask her for money. I also don’t think it is your responsibility to lend Robert your money either. Since you are not married yet, he can dump you any times he wants. I am not implying he is using you but if money is the #1 cause of divorce, it probably has the same bad effect on engaged couples.

Honestly, if the reason I had money was because of my hard work over the years, I would feel very slighted that a friend would ask to borrow a large amount. The only thing I would do is buy a friend an occasional bag of groceries but only if that friend was really down and out and had no car, cell phone, cable and wore second hand close.

And if a friend asked for their boyfriend to borrow money from me, I would immediately do what I think a friend would do and say ‘I think you are in a codependent relationship and should get out’

Honestly, if you ask, you will probably loose a good friend


Here’s another angle–it’s a bad idea for you to give Robert money, because he may feel morally obligated to marry you if he owes you money or if you’ve given him money as a gift. That’s no way to start a marriage.

We even turned down our daughter - whom we love very much - when she asked us to be cosigners on a loan. Being intelligent, she finally figured out she didn’t need the loan.

If someone asked me on behalf of a third person for a loan, I’d not only turn them down, the relationship would suffer a chill - possibly fatal.

I appreciate opinions. Hoping someone will tell me what they think is a good way to approach asking. But Xantippe, yes, neutral territory would be best I think. Or at her own home where she feels most comfortable? Or after Mass, in her car or outside if weather cooperates?

Robert does NEED to sell. He has been living in a terrible state paying all he has for mortgage/taxes, and still can’t keep up with utility bills. Taking a short sale on his only asset in the world at his age is not wise especially when the one thing he does have is ability to do the ALL the needed work (he can do *all *building, the rough and even the fine carpentry and plumbing and electric and knows all codes).

Work includes seven more very badly needed replacement windows (100+ years old) - at $134 each (he installs), plenty more paint and stain, a bit of drywall work and some trim replacement, power-washing the house and whole house trim paint and linoleum for large entry 3-season porch (part of lead abatement requirement) and re-roofing two side porch roofs and turning a falling down open side-porch into a bonus main floor room with a tiny powder room (no bathroom on main floor). A few other items.

I gave time to this and encouragement and so much more besides * all *the money I have, of what little I have, because I believe this is the right thing and the best thing in this situation, and certainly also because I love him and believe God, to Whom we are both faithful, put him in my life for us to marry. Neither of us are romantics (I once was but I got cured) and neither was looking for anyone - finding each other was really God’s doing. But even if I am wrong and the Church says no (which we will comply with of course) I do not doubt his love for me. I am not concerned about any “obligation” feelings because of that confidence. He has the normal obligation feelings of an honorable and upright man as far as the money I am lending.

As it is, he can sell without the work and after paying Realtor fees and the rest of the bank mortgage and the loan from the town the new well he needed when water ran dry and for all kinds of other debts including a loan he cosigned for his daughter, he could have a few thousand left over, not enough to buy any sort of home. However with the work he could easily sell for tens of thousands more, more than 10x what he has to pay for supplies according to the Realtor (and the “work” includes a furnace! Who is going to buy a furnace-less house in the northeast? Only someone willing to pay bottom dollar so they can do a quick resale!) so it will be easy to pay for the the supplies immediately at the sale of the house.

He can’t wait because every month puts him more behind. The will problem is his incompetent sister and he was too nice to badger her more than he did. It was not dishonesty but just complete incompetence on her part as executor. His old childhood friend found out (from me, after I looked him up) and he is a lawyer happy to take this 12 year old case on for his cherished friend, but it takes time. The state has taken over the money since it was left so long. It all takes time but its there and eventually he will get the money.

Yes I know all aobut codependency, that’s my tendency. We both are helpers and both have been taken advantage of and both have gotten the short end of the stick with users in our lives. But we are helping each other now and looking out for each other. We compliment each other like two halves of a whole. Not something we were looking for but a delightful discovery.

I would not dream of asking my friend for money if it was not a sure thing to pay her back in full and soon. Barring a sudden and complete collapse of the entire economy, which would be a big problem for everyone, its as sure as any sure thing can be. We have the figures from the Realtor and the figures of what he needs and comps, etc. and I expect my friend is very savvy with her money and would not invest in anything unwise. I am not asking for any handout by any means. And this is in no way a test of friendship. I totally accept a no. She is a woman of means; she has many fine properties, i.e., and like others who have worked for their money she is wise with her expenditures. Unlike others of means, she uses her money wisely for Gods purposes. Which is another reason her “no” would not hurt our friendship in any way. I don’t know what its like to deal in her numbers and I would never presume she was unfair with me; I would totally accept a no…

I don’t think you are getting what we are saying.

There is NO good time to ask to borrow money from a friend. Add to that, you are asking for someone else? That is even worse.

And regardless of what you think, money being paid back is NEVER a sure thing. What if something terrible happens? What if he gets hurt? Dies? What if he just gives up? Any of these happens and your sure thing turns into money being owed that will never be paid back.

I agree with the poster above that this idea of yours to ask to borrow money for a friend is a VERY BAD IDEA.

You are trying to rescue Robert. If he wants to borrow money from someone HE needs to ask himself. And if he asked me, I’d say no. He is a very bad risk. Does he work???

If you are still heck bent on asking your friend, I think you should write her and let her know that you would like to talk with her about a loan, and mention the amount. This way she has time to figure out how she wants to deal with you, you don’t want to blindside her.

If she is as much of a business woman as you say, be ready for her to tell you no. And remember, you really don’t know that much about what she has. What you see may not be the whole story.

“As it is, he can sell without the work and after paying Realtor fees and the rest of the bank mortgage and the loan from the town the new well he needed when water ran dry and for all kinds of other debts including a loan he cosigned for his daughter, he could have a few thousand left over, not enough to buy any sort of home.”

That’s a much better situation than I was expecting. If he were my friend, I’d tell him to sell it as is and not look back. If you called Dave Ramsey (the radio personal finance guy) I think he’d tell you exactly the same thing. I was expecting to hear that he was underwater on the loan and behind on payments.

By the way, do you notice that Robert has a tendency to wind up with large intractable projects that don’t get done? I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but you’ve given two examples of exactly the same thing happening to him in two different areas of his life–the neglected inheritance and the falling-down house.

If it works out with you guys and you get married, don’t ever buy a fixer-upper with him, unless you find yourselves suddenly rich.

I agree with other posters - I wouldn’t ask at all. You will put your friend in an awkward position by asking. Also, if she knows Robert, but not well, it’s like asking an almost stranger to give him money and there’s no guarantee that he can pay it back. Maybe the house won’t sell or won’t sell for a very long time or won’t sell for as much as he wants. Plus, if Robert needs the money, Robert should do the asking, not you. He is a big boy and should handle his own problems. There really is no good way for you to ask.

Perhaps it is not wise, however, if he made a mistake in the past he needs to put his trust in God.

With all due respect, you are not getting any younger either and that was NOT a smart move

No matter how honourable he is, if the house does not sell at a profit, you will NEVER get your money back

All the repairs you listed will take forever, all the more reason to sell now if he can’t wait. But again, that is his decision to make. It is NOT your responsibility to pay for

Hind sight is 20/20. He should learn from his mistake and NOT count on money until it is in his bank account. If he was too nice to badger his sister, that was his choice and your friend does not have to take responsibility. If I was your friend I would be thinking ‘He will be too nice to badger his sister for the money he owes me. No way am I lending’

I know I did not answer your question on ‘how to ask’. That is because I have a bigger concern that you are getting yourself into a very dangerous situation.


“All the repairs you listed will take forever, all the more reason to sell now if he can’t wait.”

Right. It doesn’t matter if he can do all the repairs himself if it would take every weekend for six months. If he worked evenings and every weekend for six months at a different job (for instance doing the same work for somebody else), he could probably make just as much money, and it would be much more of a sure thing.

I think you are both victims of the sunk cost fallacy with regard to this house.

“I know I did not answer your question on ‘how to ask’. That is because I have a bigger concern that you are getting yourself into a very dangerous situation.”

Exactly. The OP is a single mother with limited financial resources–she cannot afford to be funding speculative construction projects for a man she is not married to. Actually, even if you were husband and wife, I would still urge the immediate sale of this house. You’re both too poor for this.

“As it is, he can sell without the work and after paying Realtor fees and the rest of the bank mortgage and the loan from the town the new well he needed when water ran dry and for all kinds of other debts including a loan he cosigned for his daughter, he could have a few thousand left over, not enough to buy any sort of home.”

If he can sell the house and clear his debts and have any money left over at all to start a new life, that would be fantastic. There are other houses. Maybe, one day, the two of you will be able to marry and buy one together, when you have actual savings. This house sounds like a nightmare.

Also, I just caught the bit about him co-signing for his daughter. Again, Robert may be a really good guy, but his decision-making process has been terrible so far.

Before you make any more financial decisions or marry again, I suggest that both of you do some personal finance education. Dave Ramsey’s radio show has people calling in every week who are in similarly convuluted financial messes. He has a very good book called “The Total Money Makeover,” which is a step by step personal finance plan. They also run a 9-week personal finance class called Financial Peace University. A lot of churches host it. I know I sound like an ad for DR’s products, but I’m familiar with all of the ones I mentioned, and I think that both you and Robert would benefit from being a bit more systematic about your finances.

Here’s a preview of the Financial Peace University course.

Oh Charlotte,

Your friend has means because she makes smart financial decisions, right?

So, try this: ask your friend for financial advice. Don’t ask her for a loan yet; simply ask her opinion about what you want to do. Ask if she thinks it is a good idea, financially, or if it would be better for Robert to sell the place now and get rid of the debt. What would she do in that situation?

Good thought, CatholicRaven. Thanks. Yes, she is very brilliant and talented and diligent and wise.

I appreciate the references to learning financial advice and that is the sort of thing we are going to pursue when married. Right now we are just stretching what we have, as we have nothing to invest.

I am going to ask her advice and just wrote an email to her to say I would like to talk to her in person for “some advice and help with Roberts problem” and I’d rather tell her in person about it than write it, or by phone if she’d really rather.

Its just been so much on my mind to talk to her and ask her this so I cannot ignore it. And she happened to email me yesterday about another thing right when I was thinking of her so much.

I just have to ask and I know even if she says no to financial sponsorship she will give me good advice. It truly is humiliating to ask but it won’t be the first time I decided “who cares” to my personal pride and made myself do something uncomfortable or unflattering to myself because I thought a particular situation was the right thing and I needed to act and who cares who thinks what of me, just that the right thing is done. And if it truly is not the right thing she will explain why and I trust her judgement and I will gain new understanding. I am sure plenty of others have asked her for help, its the cross of those of means. Just the asking is all new territory for me.

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