Lending vs. Loaning: How do I Kindly Collect Money from a Friend?

Q: Recently I went on an overseas trip with a long time friend. She said that she could not afford to pay half of the hotel room we were sharing. I agreed to pay the entire amount myself. I also paid a rather large taxi expense. In addition, she only reimbursed me for part of her airline ticket; which I put on my credit card. The strange thing was, she bought a large amount of souvenirs; some were quite expensive. Am I wrong to feel upset about this? Any advice?

A: No, you are not wrong to feel upset about this. You offered to pay the hotel room; the taxi expense may have been a choice as well. But nowhere do you say you agreed to pay part of her airfare, too. It is fine to call her and say you were going over your bills and found she still owes you $X for her airline ticket. You can ask her if she wants a copy of the bill for her records. You needn’t bring up the souvenir shopping or other expenditures – just keep it upbeat and friendly and a reminder that she has an outstanding debt.

Property Privacy: What Can You do When Neighbors Expect to use Your Pool?

Q: Hello, We just moved to a new house with a pool and seem to have a little issue with the neighbor and their kids wanting (expecting) to be able to come over and use it. We work 7 days a week in the summer and want to be able to use our pool and backyard in private. There is a girl about the same age as our daughter that seems to be using her to get in both our pool and hot tub. I want a polite solution before we end up with tensions with our neighbors. I think the previous owners let them swim, but we are not willing to carry on that tradition.

A: This can be a sticky issue, and apparently is, but it requires some direct communication. Simply tell them that you have a liability issue with people using the pool when you aren’t home so have to ask them to not enter it or your yard during those times, and that when you do get home from work it is your mode of relaxation and not a time you want to have to be social. However, you can say, you would be  delighted to have them have a swim occasionally and will issue invitations when those times occur. They really can’t get huffy over being asked to respect your property and privacy, even if they are used to carte blanche from the former owners. They need to chalk it up to being lucky before, and find somewhere else to go now. This is not unreasonable of you at all.

Finders Keepers: How do you Decide who Gets the Open Parking Space?

Q: Yesterday i was looking for parking as were many people at the mall parking lot which isn’t very big. Mind you there are two directions in which cars park, I was driving in the direction where a car was leaving on the opposite side a car was parked waiting for someone to leave. Naturally since I was on the side where the car was leaving I took the space, but then I see that the car on the opposite side wanted to get in and it started a battle where she was trying to scare me by getting close to the point of hitting my car. She had cars waiting behind her but she got out of the car to chew me out, telling me she was there first and that it was her space later getting nasty with me. I naturally kept my cool, saying sorry but I was in the direction the car left and you were the wrong direction. It would have been like making a u turn trying to get into my space as her utility truck was huge and of course in the wrong direction. Was I wrong to have taken the space? ‘

A: Yes, if you knew she was already there waiting for it. It was not yours to make assumptions about whether she was facing the right direction or not – patently she was waiting for that space. I understand the logic of your decision, but in the case of rare parking spaces it really is a matter of who’s there first that gets the space.

Keeping it in the Family: How to Remind Family Members about Unpaid Loans

Q: I would like to know the best way to ask a relative to pay back a large amount of money that was loaned to them over 8 years ago. My In-laws seem to have forgotten although it has been mentioned about 6 times since. How can this be handled tactfully. I would appreciate any advise you could offer. Thank you. Stacy ‘

A: You need to have a direct conversation where you say that you need him or her to let you know what kind of payment schedule he/she is setting up to repay the loan. This should be face to face, if possible. If not, then by telephone where he/she must give a direct response. Eight years puts it beyond the tactful level and you really do need an answer. Don’t just mention it or leave it hanging – get a real answer.