How to Handle Friends Who Financially Take Advantage of You

Updated: January 7, 2023

Friends are one of life’s greatest treasures. We love them and would do everything we can to help them in times of need.

However, we sometimes get “that friend” who takes advantage of us financially, especially when they know that we make more money than them.

They’re not necessarily bad friends. In fact, most of them are fun and easy to get along with. Moreover, they can be quite loyal, and always ready to take and defend your side in an argument.

And thus, it becomes really hard for us to call them out on their bad and seemingly manipulative habit.

So how do you make them stop taking advantage of your good nature and your savings? Here are some tips.

The Freeloader

They’re the ones who go to the restroom when you get the bill in the restaurant. Sometimes, they don’t order at all, hoping you’d take pity and just pay for their meal, or coffee, or movie tickets, or wherever you are.

In return, they make sure the group has fun. They crack jokes and share interesting stories. They do this so you don’t feel manipulated or abused into paying for the nth time.

Usual Lines:

  • “Wala pa akong sweldo. Pwedeng ikaw muna ang sagot?”
  • “Gusto kong sumama, kaso wala akong pera. Libre mo naman ako, please?”
  • “Sagot ko na ang kwento. Libre niyo lang ako.”

It’s okay to treat friends once in a while. But if it has become a habit, then you need to tell them how you feel about it, especially if they actually have a source of income or receive a regular allowance.

To be more diplomatic, you can first ask them if they’re having financial troubles because you noticed that they often don’t have money to spend when you go out.

If they are, then that may be the root of the problem. And you can now help them find a long-term solution to their financial woes.

If it turns out that they simply believe that you can afford it anyway because you make more money, then be honest and say it makes you feel uncomfortable. Then together, try to work out how things can change.

Sometimes, it helps to let them decide where to eat whenever you dine out. This makes sure that they’ll pick a place that’s within their budget.

More often than not, it also helps to remind them that you won’t be able to treat them beforehand.

And don’t feel guilty about leaving them out on occasion, because hopefully, that could serve as a wake-up call for them to take their finances more seriously.

The Pay-You-Later

They’re not really freeloaders, but they seemingly have this habit of having no cash in their wallets. They’ll ask you to cover for them first, and promises to pay you later, but they never do.

Sometimes, they do pay you back but not equally. They treat you to coffee and then call it even. Never mind the fact that the meal you paid for them costs twice as much.

Usual Lines:

  • “Kailangan ko pala mag-withdraw. Pabayad muna, bayaran kita mamaya.”
  • “Offline mga ATM. Ikaw na lang muna. Bayaran kita bukas.”
  • “Pwedeng ikaw muna? Treat ko na lang ‘yung coffee and dessert mamaya.”

It’s okay to tolerate this on a few occasions. But once you feel that you’re being manipulated into treating them often, then it’s time to confront them about it.

As always, a private and honest conversation is necessary to sort things out. And I’ve known cases when the friend wasn’t really aware of their bad habit.

To lessen or avoid this from happening, you can remind them to check their wallet for cash and withdraw money if necessary, before you meet up. This sends a strong signal that you’re expecting them to pay for themselves later.

Lastly, if they’re the type who pays you back unequally, then there’s nothing wrong with being straightforward and saying that they still owe you because your treat costs more.

The Borrower

Lastly, we all know this friend who’s always having financial troubles and likes to borrow money. Because you consider yourself a good friend, you lend them money, even if it means compromising your own budget.

Helping a friend in need is important. But lending them money is not always the right way to help them, especially if the root of the problem is how they handle their finances.

Usual Lines:

  • “Kapos ako ngayon. Pwedeng makahiram? Bayaran kita sa sweldo.”
  • “Wala pa akong sweldo. Hihiram sana ako. Ngayon lang naman.”
  • “May extra ka ba? Hihiram sana ako pambayad lang ng kuryente namin.”

I already have an article on how to handle friends who borrow money. You can read that to get comprehensive advice on how to deal with them.

But the most important thing to remember here is that always assume that you’re not going to be paid back. This means you shouldn’t lend money that you cannot afford to lose.

Now how do you politely decline? That’s another thing you will learn from that article, which you can read here: Handling Friends Who Borrow Money

Final Thoughts

They say that it’s better to give than to receive. I agree.

But there’s a difference between someone who needs help and someone who’s simply taking advantage of your generosity.

More importantly, always helping a friend who is in financial need can sometimes turn you into an enabler and create an abusive codependent relationship. This will do more harm than good to both of you in the long term.

So always remember — be generous, but for the right reasons and at the right circumstance.

What to do next: Click here to start your financial journey with IMG Wealth Academy


  1. I’m enjoying reading your blogs. This is much interesting than facebook, ig ect. I’m learning a lot on how to be wise financially. This is very helpful specially to us ofws who knows nothing but to send money to our family. I’m not thinking about savings or investments before but, reading blogs and articles like these made me realize i should save and wisely invest my money. Kudos !!!

  2. This is a great article. I am starting this year by saying no to friends who made it a habit na magpalibre. I didn’t notice how much cash I’m spending on it until I started to do my personal accounting

  3. May I inject a comment on a different subject but with similar overtones of using ones “friends” in a bad manner? During my first five or so years here in the Philippines, I was asked to serve as a Godparent many times. I take the obligation seriously and as a high honor, knowing that one day I may be needed to step up to the plate with advise, guidance and possibly financial help. What I was NOT prepared for is how many parents made multiple attempts to use me and later once I was married also use my beautiful bride as an ATM for all sorts of everyday money shortages. Now, I have no problem helping if there is a genuine emergency. I do have a problem when the word “borrow” or “UTANG” is used but you never hear from them, the “borrower” again until they ask for even more money. I do NOT find it amusing how they can not remember borrowing the last time!!! Call it a new years resolution but I will be using the simple word NO much more often unless it is a really close friend asking.

  4. I will add to my January 11, 2020 comment above. Over the past year, Beautiful Bride and I have instituted a new policy when asked by acquaintances for loans. We now tell those ask that we will only loan money on the condition of a signed and notarized contract. We explained that we are frustrated by empty promises of repayment and going forward we will treat all personal loans just like transactions in our local business venture. Each client of our business has a contract that is notarized and if you want a personal loan from us, you must also do this. IT WORKS !!!!

    A good number have backed off claiming that it is “too complicated.” HMMM, does that translate to they do not really intend to pay? Still, some push forward. I personally felt sorry for two ladies that were, in my perception, being abused in their home relationship. I wanted to help and offered to put them in contact with a wonderful woman police officer friend of mine who could help them and their children. Both declined help from law enforcement (possibly a bad sign?) but took a loan with notarized contract.

    Very soon, they were back asking for additional loans. We said NO you must prove your trustworthiness by paying off your first loan. One of the ladies even asked to start a new business with my wife. My Bride said no due to a poor business plan and an idea with little to no protective moat. When payments fell behind and after several warnings we put our threats into action. We learned that we were being lied to by both borrowers. Both now have a payment scheduled ordered by the legal system. Now, I hope these two will do me the favor of informing their friends that Old Jack and his wife will help you if you are in real trouble but you had better fulfill your promise, those two MEAN BUSINESS and they will prosecute delinquents.

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