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Sponge nation: 1 in 4 of us still owed money by a friend


It's shocking how often we don't pay back our mates.

Australians like to think of themselves as generous, but it's looking like some of us are overly keen to take advantage of that.

Almost 1 in 4 (24%) of us have experienced a friend failing to pay back a debt in the last 12 months, new Finder consumer research reveals.

That adds up to 4.9 million Australians who haven't paid back their mates.

Just 21% of us say that our friends always pay back money when it's owed.

Here are the most common situations where friends don't pony up for their share.

Has a friend failed/forgotten to pay you back in the past 12 months?

Yes, after we split a bill eating out6%
Yes, for a combined gift4%
Yes, for event tickets3%
Yes, for a shared Uber/taxi2%
Yes, for travel/holiday expenses2%
Yes for a gambling expense2%
Yes, other11%

If you're not strapped for cash, then there's obviously no problem in saying "hey, don't worry about that Uber".

But if it's becoming a habit for some of your mates, you need to take action.

Subsidising your friends will not help you achieve your own financial goals.

So what can you do?

It's tough, but you have to stop being an enabler. No more fake splitting bills with unreliable friends.

And if you really need the money back you have to ask.

The longer you wait, the more awkward the conversation. Don't simmer in silence, speak out.

That doesn't mean you need to be aggressive. "Don't forget you still owe me that $20 for the cab" is all it sometimes takes.

You can send a text if face-to-face feels too awkward.

If your friends are really struggling, help them identify solutions.

Consolidating debt and setting a budget can put them more firmly in control.

Finally, here's some food for thought: 55% of us say we haven't had to lend money to a friend or split a bill in the last year.

Given the ongoing cost of living crisis, it's not surprising we're tightening our belts.

Struggling with debt? Compare debt consolidation loans and learn how to set a budget. For more help, call the free National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

Image: @Hans via
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