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Frugal Find: The Art of Borrowing

   Posted On: December 13, 2013  |    Posted In: Saving  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

IMG_3167We all have “that friend.” The one who consistently forgets his wallet when you go out to eat or always promises to get the next round of drinks or never wants to drive and then doesn’t chip in for gas. Yeah, that guy. That is the guy who ruined it for the rest of it because he never perfected the art of borrowing. Because of him, we all became wary about loaning out money or offering to drive or even letting friends borrow our books or DVDs use our Netflix log-ins.

The art of borrowing is one of my favorite frugal tactics. Why buy something when you can simply get it on loan from a friend (or co-worker or family member)?

In a few weeks, my apartment will be overrun with four of my dearest friends. Luckily for them, I have an abnormally large NYC apartment. Unfortunately for them, the heat in said apartment is lackluster and my blanket situation is something to be desired. After a lap around Bed, Bath and Beyond yesterday, I concluded I couldn’t afford to buy some new, warm throw blankets and they may have to resort to huddling together for warmth. Then it dawned on me to simply borrow!

I’d like to think I’ve perfected the art of borrowing. Borrowed money is repaid as soon as I find an ATM or convenient store for cash back (few things bug me more than an outstanding debt to someone). Borrowed items are returned in the same conditioned they were loaned to me and in a prompt manner.  This Miss Manners behavior has set me up nicely to solicit friends for blankets and air mattresses thus ensuring my visitors’ comfort.

If I hadn’t perfected the art of borrowing, my New York City friends may be wary about loaning me their belongings. Perhaps they’d be concerned about getting back beer stained, unwashed blankets or that I’d keep forgetting to give them their belongings back at all. Instead, I’ll be able to save money and my friends won’t have to worry about a blanket taking up half the space in their luggage. This is what we call a classic win-win situation.

Do you have any classic borrowing or lending horror stories?


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27 responses to “Frugal Find: The Art of Borrowing

  1. Great point! I need to start borrowing more. It has always been frustrating to me when I have to buy items for 1 or 2 uses. I use them and then they just sit, taking up space in my small NYC apartment. I have been good at lending people items, but need to perfect the art of borrowing!

    1. If you’re good at lending, then hopefully you have a bunch of “borrow credits” to cash in on. I’m with you on the frustration of buying something you’d only use once or twice.

  2. Aw, you should have just let them snuggle together for warmth. It would have created a perfect bonding moment, lol. I say this as my apartment has functioning heat. Although I remember going back to my parents house for Christmas a couple years back. I’m pretty sure my bedroom was 50 some degrees. Thank god for thermal wear.

    1. I love long johns. And fleece blankets and huge sweatshirts and long, hot showers because I don’t pay for water. That’s a major win this time of year!

  3. Haha, I remember back in grade school some groups would sell baked goods in the hallway for 50 cents each. (Yes, remember counting money in cents?) I must have lost a childhood fortune loaning quarters! 🙂 But noone ever paid anyone back, and I distinctly remember the moral dilemma about whether to buy myself a donut, or pay back the guy I borrowed from yesterday!

    1. I held childhood loaning grudges for ages! Especially when people borrowed books and then damaged or lost them.

  4. I don’t have a horror story but actually a success story. My sister and I shared a car in high school and when she went to college I wanted it all for myself. I had some cash in the bank and she didn’t so I loaned her something like $2k to get her car (interest free – can you tell I was desperate?). She made all the payments and it worked out really well.

    1. That’s awesome! I’m always hesitant at the idea of loaning money to family, but I’d probably also loan to my sister.

  5. There was a girl I know who I was friends with at point who always wanted to borrow my surf stuff, and I had to keep asking her to bring it back. I think your reputation has a lot to do with who makes good borrowers and who doesn’t. I’ve borrowed things before but even if the person isn’t asking I try to give it back right away.

    1. If your reputation is like your credit score/report, I think borrowing makes up a HUGE portion. Once you burn someone, it’s hard to make up for it.

    1. Well said. I’d like to think the people I’ve maintained long-term relationships with are all folks I’d feel comfortable loaning something to.

  6. I have friends who are in this boat – we end up limiting the amount we invite them to things because of this habit. It feels rude but if you never chip in, what do you expect?

    1. Agreed. It was awful having a car in college and people asking for rides and then never paying me back or never even offering in the first place!

  7. Don’t abuse the borrowing privilege and everyone will be happy to lend you stuff.. FOREVER.

    I never abuse this privilege, but the minute someone “forgets” to pay me back, I remember it forever, even if it’s only $1. I let it go but I never forget that I can’t really trust them for bigger things.. It’s worth the $1 to learn that lesson.

    1. I certainly don’t forget when people fail to pay me back (or offer to pay for something and then don’t). Isn’t a friendship deal breaker, but makes me wary about spotting them money in the future.

  8. I love borrowing! I live fairly close to my parents, brother, and sister and we trade stuff back and forth all the time. My sister has a set of nice beach chairs that we always borrow to take when we go to Florida.

    1. My sister and I both live pretty far from home (parents in Charlotte and sister in LA), but my sister always raid’s my Mom’s closet when she’s home (or mine when she visits). Usually we have to be okay with giving up that item of clothing for a few months until we’ll see each other again. It’s a super cheap way for her to shop though!

    1. I knew a girl who used to keep an list of who borrowed her belongings (and when) so she could be sure to track everything down. When you have an extensive book or DVD collection it’s a good idea!

  9. Call me selfish but I’ve always hated loaning out my stuff. I always felt like my stuff never came back the same way (dirty, worn, broken, etc) For me it was always music. I pretty much would never see a tape or CD ever again if I loaned it out. I was so glad when they invented mp3’s and I could just burn a CD for a friend.

    It always has been funny to me how causal people take this issue. I had one friend leave his drumset at my house when he started college. I had those things for almost 4 years!

  10. I understand the hesitancy to be a loaner of goods. It’s easier to be the borrower. There are very few friends I feel 100% comfortable loaning things to. I also am always sure to thank friends when I’m the borrower. I just snagged an air mattress from a buddy of mine and brought her a cronut in repayment.

  11. This is straight financial awesomeness. Borrow instead of buy. If you are the kind of person who respects other people’s property when they loan it to you, then they will have no problem letting you borrow in the future. It also saves money, like you said, because you don’t have to shell out for something you would only use once!

  12. Erin, I hear you on borrowers. I have some extended family members who fall into that category unfortunately and one in particular “borrowed” $2,000 from my mom she doesn’t ever intend to pay back. But at least now no one in my immediate family will ever “loan” her money again!

    Speaking of heat, you know that your heat must be at a certain temperature depending on the temperature outside and the time of day, correct? Your heat (and hot water) is part of your rent (unless you can control the heat with a thermostat) so you can complain to 311 if it’s not adequate temperature inside. Here’s more info:

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