Friends with Money (Your Money)
Question: How can I make friends pay me back the money that I lent them? It was for a trip that we went on together, where I covered all the costs in hopes of getting paid back in the future. After months of delays and broken promises, they have now declared that they simply won't be paying me back anymore. I don't have any written statements—only conversations proving their initial intent to pay. I'd really like to pressure them into paying or make them even slightly embarrassed by what they have done. My first thought is to message all of their friends on Facebook, letting them know about the situation. Would something of this nature be legal? They are living in a foreign country.
Answer: I'm sorry that your friends took advantage of you. It's a punch in the gut when things like this happen.
You should absolutely not email their Facebook friends. You shouldn't resort to airing your grievance online at all, in fact. I've seen retaliation go down on social media and it ain't pretty. No one comes out smelling like a rose—least of all the wronged party who instigates. You will come across as desperate and catty, not righteous. So unless you forked the bill for an all-inclusive expedition to the Galapagos Islands, the money at stake can't possibly be worth the ding to your reputation.
The truth is that you should never lend money to a friend that you can't also afford to lose. Better yet, lend money under the assumption that you won't get it back. Most people will, naturally, pay you back, but at least you won't be crestfallen in the rare instances when they don't.
If it was a large sum and you're in dire straights without it, then sure—look into your legal rights. I have absolutely no idea what they are internationally, let alone stateside, but my hunch is that pursuing it would end up costing more in legal fees than you spent on the trip itself.
Try to let this go.
Also try to leave the window open for your friends to rectify the situation down the road, be it five months or five years. They may be under financial strain or simply need some distance to realize what jerks they are. Most honorable people will eventually make things right if given the room to do so.
Write them an email. Say you're sorry that the trip money has turned into an issue (apologizing to them may seem odd, but it aids your cause by easing tensions). Tell them that you pulled the money from your savings and would gladly put it back there should they be able to repay you in the future.
Then, sign off and leave it be. Avoid trash talking them publicly (vent one-on-one, if you must) and consider it money well spent in the "life's lessons" department.