Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 26, 2012

Friends and money: Hanging onto both of them is hard

Being taken by those supposedly close to someone with money is a universal problem.

I know many people of extreme wealth, and many keep it by being constantly mistrusting of those around them. Living life in constant suspicion of your family and friends doesn’t sound like fun.

Some simple rules for friendship need to prevail:

1. Never lend money to anyone. You are a person, not a bank.

Follow the advice of William Shakespeare. In Hamlet, Lord Polonius said, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

In modern terms, “Friends don’t borrow money from friends. That is what banks are for.”

In a world of banks, automobile financing, mortgage brokers, credit cards, payday lenders, pawn shops and “buy here/pay here” car lots, someone intent on borrowing money can find a professional lender willing to give them money at a rate suitable to their credit history.

They don’t need to borrow from their friends.

Most of the time, the friend subconsciously (or even consciously) considers the loan a “gift” and, as Shakespeare noted, it usually ends the friendship.

Like most people, I’ve been burned on lending money. The last person I lent money to (several years ago) was a very close friend who makes big money. This person also had big issues I did not know about. I lent an amount I could afford. I thought it was on a short-term basis. I’ve never seen a dime in repayment and rarely see the friend anymore.

We all make that mistake once or twice in our lives. Anyone who has not done it, please jump up and do a cartwheel. You are a distinct minority.

The key is to learn from mistakes. I did. People will make you think you are a jerk when you turn them down. Actually the opposite is true. Not lending money is more likely to prolong a friendship than ending it.

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