Brits lend £562 million a year to friends

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What do you call a friend who owes you money? An ex-friend.

It's always easy to lend friends money if they're short of cash. It's not always so easy to get it back, and when it gets out of hand it can soon spoil a friendship altogether. So just how likely are you to be caught out, and what can you do about it?

Why we lend

A survey by Capital One has found that in the last year 41% of us have been forced to stump up for a friend who found themselves short of cash. The most common problem is when they are stuck with the bar tab in a restaurant or bar that doesn't take cards - which has caught out 18% of people.

This is followed by those caught in cash-only shops (13%), tips in bars and restaurants (12%), taxi fares (10%) and items spent somewhere with a minimum sum for a card spend (6%).

This all seems fairly low cost and harmless stuff, but the survey also found that 43% of them never see a penny of the cash again. In fact, for many it's a deliberate ploy, because 2 million people avoid carrying cash in the hope that others will foot the bill.

It adds up, because we spend an average of £102 a year subbing friends, and for one in ten of these people, this rises to between £204 and £400 a year.

So what can you do about it?

It seems a bit much not to pay, and leave them stranded and panicking in a taxi. However, with a regular offender it may be your best bet. If they are going to miss out on paying a tip or having the chance to buy something in the corner shop then it's not going to kill them and it may just be the subtle message they need to get them to pay you back.

If you can't refuse, and they owe you for several events like this, then it's time to broach the subject of repayment. They may simply look on it as a gift and not realise you wanted to be paid back. You may feel awkward, but by far your best bet is to say 'Here you go, and you can pay me back when I see you on Tuesday'.

That way, if it's just an accident you'll be sure to get your money back, and if it's a deliberate ploy they'll know you're not a soft touch.

But what do you think? Do you sub friends, or are you a repeat offender? let us know in the comments.
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