I have a friend that is notorious for freeloading on food, rides, bar cover fees, and a lot more. He’s either unaware, or ruthless, in trying to use others. He has come over and tried to get my housemates and I to order food, just so we would pay for it.
We haven’t said anything to him, but it’s pretty bad.
(I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog posts. If he does, then it might be better that he finds out sooner rather than later.)
A couple of months ago, I was out with my friends at a bar. I had finished my previous drink and the freeloader friend came up to me and said, “Hey, I got you. What do you want to drink?”
Out of shock that he would offer, appreciation for his generosity, and to make it easy, I said, “I’ll have whatever you’re getting.” He comes back and gives me a drink, and I didn’t think anything else of it.
A week or two later, this guy comes over to my house. After five other guys and I order pizza, we divide how much each person has to pay. I only have a $20 bill, so I’m the one who is paying and collecting from others.
The freeloader guy says, “Ugh, I don’t have any money. But, remember that time I bought you a drink at the bar a couple of weeks ago? That will cover it.”
I immediately glanced at my other friend who always gets fired up about the friend who freeloads. It was so hard not to laugh.
I’m thinking in my head, this guy is unbelievable. But, because I was so caught off guard, I said, ”Fine.”
Then, one of my other friends tossed over the money he owed to me. The freeloader friend, next to me, dives for that money and acts like he’s stealing it.
We all laughed, not because it was funny, but because of how real the idea was of him taking someone else’s money.
Strategies To Handle Moochers/ Freeloaders
Handling a friend who is a freeloader is very difficult. Obviously you enjoy their friendship or you wouldn’t hang out with them. But, it’s just that anytime money is needed—which is frequent in social gatherings—they refuse to open up their wallet and pay.
So, there is a fine balance between being honest about how you feel, and completely upsetting the other person. I have used these strategies in the past to help me, and I believe they can help you too.
1. Communicate expectations ahead of time.
Before you go out, order food, or do any activity that costs money with the mooching friend, be sure to communicate that everyone’s going to pay for himself or herself. This is effective because it puts the thought in the moocher’s head that they need to pay for their own, with no handouts this time.
Also, it’s not going to be that uncomfortable because you’re speaking to everyone. You’re not targeting the message to one person, even though the freeloader is the reason it needs to be said.
2. Don’t give in. Be strong in saying “No.”
A moocher is programmed to try to find ways around paying. Depending on who they are, they could hear the expectations and still try to find a way to have someone else pay for them.
It’s important to keep a consistent, strong approach so that they know you’re not going to financially cover them anymore.
3. Stop loaning, agreeing to be paid later, or compromising in any other way.
A good moocher is savvy in getting other people to pay for them. They know what to look for to avoid paying.
Bringing up past times of generosity (like buying a drink), saying they’ll have money next week, or the old “I forgot my wallet” technique is always in their mind in times of spending money.
If you can be strong in saying no, and not compromise in any form, then it could trigger a new assumption in the freeloader friend’s mind. Ideally, they will get the message that no one is going to pay for them now.
4. Have a talk.
At this point, if it continues, then you need to have a serious talk with them. If you’re not direct, they will continue to be a freeloader or mooch as long as they can. Don’t worry about ruining the friendship. If you don’t talk, then your friendship will fail anyway, because you’ll be so frustrated and they won’t change. If you want any chance of continuing to be friends, it’s your responsibility to sit them down, just the two of you, and talk.
Begin with mentioning how much you value their friendship. It’s important to build a common ground early, so it doesn’t feel like a full attack. Then, get to the problem on how they don’t pay for anything and you’ve felt this way for a long time.
Hopefully the message goes well and you both understand where the other one is coming from. If they get upset about this talk, then it might be time for step five.
5. Hangout with them less, or drop the friendship.
If you’ve given them a chance to change as you’ve gone through steps one to four, then you might need to do the best thing for you and them: drop the friendship.
It seems harsh, but it’s their own doing. The only way for them to change their mindset about paying is to be faced with negative results. If you hang out with them less, then hopefully they are smart enough to know the reason why, and make progress in paying.
Comment below about your experience with a freeloader or mooching friend, and how you succeeded or failed to handle it.