You know those people who constantly use or “borrow” your stuff and never seem to remember to, or care to, replace the borrowed items? When I was in school it was usually pens or hair things, now it’s mostly food and wine. While the items themselves may have changed, the mooching hasn’t.
I’m certainly not averse to sharing; I don’t even care to keep specific tabs. But when there’s a relationship that results in the consistent draining of my resources with no sign of attempted reciprocation, I admittedly get annoyed- whether it’s once again finishing off all the beers I had stocked in the fridge or “forgetting” to bring cash when going out to dinner as a group.
Here are some strategies to confront the mooching situation head on…
1. Ask For Separate Checks
Group settings tend to bring out the unintended moocher in even the most conscientious friends. A combination of a large combined bill, a few too many drinks, and some seriously subpar basic math skills in factoring tax and tip is a recipe for coming up short. Avoid getting stuck with the difference by asking for separate checks from the outset.
2. Assign Expectations In Advance
With seriously limited disposable income of my own, I always ask about price and expected contribution before agreeing to partake in any activity or event- be it a girls weekend getaway or an evening of wine tasting. Knowing what’s expected from the outset lets me know exactly how much I need to budget and bring with me.
If a certain friend is constantly flaking when it comes time to settle accounts, consider outlining the participatory expenses ahead of time. Make sure they too are committed to the expense before they commit to the activity.
3. Be Clear and Persistent
If small hints and suggestions aren’t getting the message across, don’t hesitate to confront your moocher sans subtlety. Make it clear that you enjoy his or her company, but that you don’t appreciate his or her flaky behavior when it comes to contributing fair share. Changing behavior takes time, so you may have to repeat your concerns as future mooching incidents occur.
4. Say No
If your moocher friend shows no sign of remorse or attempt at changing his or her behavior, learn to say no when they ask you (IF they ask you) for yet another favor- a ride, a loan, a drink, etc. If you’ve been consistently taken advantage of, start taking responsibility for your own needs by declining and staying firm.
5. Avoid The Situation
A friend who continues to practice mooching behavior even after consistent confrontation, may not be much of a friend at all. Consider limiting your interactions with that person and avoid any situations where a mooching opportunity might present itself.
If the moocher is someone close to you like a family member or even a roommate who you can’t avoid, find other ways to protect yourself. I’ve adapted a practice of keeping certain things in my room that have a tendency to disappear when I leave them out in the kitchen or common living area.
What strategies do you use to deal with moochers?
About the Author: Stefanie O’Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.
Afterword From Brent
One of my favorite tricks lifehacks for dealing with lending people things and never getting them back is to take a quick picture of them holding the item you are lending them. This way, you have photographic proof that you lent them that item plus a visual reminder when you’re scrolling through your pictures on your phone that you lent them that item. Give it a try next time.
Photo credit: Mike Smail