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Mooching mates: 1 in 4 Australians sponge off a friend

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Millions of Aussies are owed money by a mate, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,063 respondents revealed 1 in 4 Australians – equivalent to 4.9 million people – haven't been paid back money they lent to a friend over the past 12 months.

The research found splitting a bill at a restaurant (6%), group presents (4%) and event tickets (3%) are the most common debts that go unpaid.

Sharing a taxi or Uber (2%), travel expenses (2%) and even gambling (2%) are other unpaid loans.

Sarah Megginson, personal finance expert at Finder, said millions of Aussies have loaned money to a friend but never been paid back.

"In this economic climate, so many people are financially struggling and they may be a little less eager to chip in for the Uber or repay their part of the meal.

"Shouting a friend as a one-off is one thing, but generous friends can really be taken advantage of when this becomes a regular pattern."

Finder's research shows women (28%) are more likely to be left out of pocket by their friends than men (20%).

Megginson urged consumers to be wary of friends who habitually take advantage of them.

"Mooching breaks trust and can strain a relationship, but even worse, it could cause financial problems for the friend left holding the bag."

Megginson said it was a good idea to put some boundaries in place.

"If your friend is living beyond their means, their first step is to rein in spending, not rely on you to fund their life.

"That might mean they have to miss out on some celebrations or social events."

The research found half of Aussies (55%) haven't lent money to a friend, while just 21% say their friends always pay them back.

Megginson said there are steps you can take to get back the money you've loaned.

"The sooner you speak up the better – don't let too much time pass before voicing your concerns and don't let any awkwardness get in the way of being upfront.

"It's better for your relationship to communicate and clear the air, than to say nothing and simmer in silent resentment.

"If you're owed a significant amount of money, put your request in writing – a text message or email is fine. If that gets you nowhere, you can send a letter of demand, clearly outlining how much you are owed and ask that it be repaid within a certain time frame.

"If you receive no response, you can lodge a minor debt dispute with your state or territory's tribunal for resolving matters like this."

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.

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