Best Practices

How to Ask for Money: A Practical Guide for Delicate Situations

Date Published: Dec 11, 2023
Jim Hughes, editor at
Sophia Rodriguez, reviewer at
Listen minutes

Asking for money is daunting, but guess what? You're not alone. A staggering 73% of people only reach out for help when they have no other choice. It's tough, but here's the good news: it’s a skill you can master with a bit of know-how and heart.

So, how do you dive in without the dread? Start simple. “I need help” can be the hardest yet most powerful words you say. It’s not just about money – it's about sharing your story, your cause, your value.

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Whether you need money because you're out of work or seeking a raise for your hard work, we'll cut through the anxiety together. By the end of this guide, you'll have the skills to ask for what you need with confidence. Are you ready to turn those tough asks into triumphant yeses? Let's get started.

The Art of Timing: When to Ask People for Money

When it comes to a request for money, timing isn’t just a detail – it’s the backbone of your request. A well-timed ask takes into account not just what you need but when the person you’re asking is most receptive.

Two women discussing finances So, the trick is to gauge the situation and mood. Is the person relaxed and in a good mood? Have they just shared good news? These might be your golden moments. With this in mind, let’s explore how to recognize the right time, setting the stage for a ‘yes.’

Before you even broach the subject of money, assess the current environment and the mood of the person you're planning to ask. This requires you to:

  • Observe Body Language: Look for signs of openness, such as uncrossed arms, a smile, or direct eye contact. These can indicate that the person is approachable and willing to listen.
  • Listen for Cues: Engage in small talk and pay attention to their tone. Are they sharing positive news or expressing satisfaction? This can be a cue that they’re in a good headspace to hear your request.
  • Assess the Environment: Choose a quiet, comfortable setting for the conversation. A chaotic environment can lead to distraction and impatience.
  • Timing with Events: Align your request with positive events. For instance, after a successful business quarter, a manager may be more inclined to consider a raise. If your family has a habit of discussing finances regularly, bring up your needs during these times.
  • Emotional Climate: Gauge their current mood. If they seem stressed or preoccupied, waiting for a better time may be wise.
  • Consider Your Own Mood: You’re part of the equation too. Ensure you’re calm and collected to present your case effectively.
  • Be Mindful of External Pressures: If the company is going through layoffs or your friend is dealing with personal issues, it might not be the right time to ask for money.
  • Financial Planning Meetings: For employers, consider requesting a meeting specifically for financial planning. This shows you’re serious and allows them to prepare.
  • Quiet Moments: Look for quiet moments with family and friends, away from distractions, to have a sincere conversation.
  • Financial Stability of the Person: Ensure the person you're asking is not under financial duress. Their ability to help may be limited if they're facing their own money challenges.

Transparency Is Key: How to Convey Your Need for Money Clearly

Once you’ve determined the right time to broach the subject, the next step is to navigate the conversation clearly and transparently. Conveying your need for money with candor can pave the way for a supportive dialogue, setting the stage for a positive exchange. It's not just about the request itself but also about fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding through open communication.

When expressing your need for financial help, it’s important to be clear and specific about the reasons behind your request. Whether it's due to unexpected medical bills, educational expenses, a sudden loss of income, or any other unexpected expenses, succinctly outline the situation. Providing evidence or context can lend credibility to your request and help the other party understand the urgency and legitimacy of your needs.

Honesty is key in these discussions. Be upfront about the details of your financial situation, including other avenues you've explored, such as savings or assistance programs. If you plan to repay the money, come up with a realistic repayment strategy beforehand. This level of transparency about your circumstances not only helps in establishing trust but also allows the person you're asking for money to fully grasp the gravity of your situation.

Is it Better to Ask for Money Online or in Person?

Choosing whether to ask for money online or in person depends on several factors that can affect the outcome of your request. Here’s a comparison to help you decide which method aligns best with your situation:




Body Language

Limited, can lead to misunderstandings

Rich, includes non-verbal cues, clearer communication


High, suitable for urgent requests

High, allows for immediate feedback and interaction


Can feel less personal, may impact trust levels

More personal, likely to strengthen trust and rapport


Very convenient, accessible from anywhere

Less convenient, requires physical presence and coordination


Low, usually no travel or setup costs

Potentially high due to travel and venue expenses

Privacy and Discretion

May offer more privacy, as conversations are not in public spaces

Can be private, but depends on finding a secluded space

Crafting the Perfect Message: How Do You Politely Ask to Borrow Money?

Having considered whether to ask for financial assistance online or in person, the next step is to craft your message. This is where you weave politeness and clarity into a request that respects your relationship with the lender and conveys your need effectively.

Close up on individual hand writing letter asking for moneyHere's how to create a considerate and effective message:

  • Express Appreciation: Begin by expressing gratitude for their consideration, showing you value their time and potential support.
  • Explain Your Need: Clearly and concisely share the reason you need financial help, whether it's for an unexpected expense or a significant opportunity.
  • Recall Past Support: If you have a history of helping each other, mention this to underscore the reciprocal nature of your relationship.
  • Demonstrate Reliability: If you've borrowed money and repaid it in the past, highlight this as a testament to your dependability.
  • Outline Your Repayment Plan: Discuss your plan for repayment, including timelines, to show you're serious about your commitment.
  • Emphasize the Uniqueness of the Request: Assure them that you do not regularly ask for help and that this is a special circumstance.
  • Provide References: If possible, include references from trusted individuals who can vouch for your character and reliability.


Example of a message:

Dear [Friend's Name],

I trust you’re doing great. I’m writing to you amidst a challenging situation that has unexpectedly come up. My recent health issues have led to some unforeseen medical bills that I'm finding difficult to cover.

I’ve always admired how you manage life’s ups and downs, and following your example, I've tightened my budget considerably.

However, I'm still short on funds, and I was wondering if I could borrow [specific amount] from you. I intend to repay this in full by [timeframe], and I’m happy to agree to any terms that make you comfortable.

Your friendship has always been a source of strength for me, and it is with a hopeful heart that I ask for your help during this time.

Thank you for considering my request. I'm looking forward to catching up soon, perhaps over coffee, and discussing this further if you're willing.

Warmest regards,

[Your Name]

Expecting Inquiries When Requesting Money

Following your well-crafted request for financial assistance, be prepared for the person you're asking to have questions. Anticipating and preparing for these inquiries will demonstrate your diligence and maintain the trust you've fostered.

Here are common questions you might encounter and how you can prepare to address them:

  • "What do you need the money for?"

Be transparent and specific. If it’s for a car repair, medical expenses, or continuing education, explain the situation briefly. Share only the details necessary to convey the urgency or importance of your need.

  • "How much do you exactly need?"

Give a precise figure. If possible, break down the major expenses to show you’ve thought it through and are asking for only what is necessary.

  • "Do you have a plan for repaying the money?"

Present a realistic and clear repayment plan. Whether it's a schedule of payments or a lump sum by a certain date, make sure it’s something you can commit to.

  • "Is this a one-time situation?"

Reassure them that you’re not in the habit of borrowing money and that this is a unique circumstance. Explain what makes this situation different and why you won’t need to borrow again in the future.

  • "Have you considered other options?"

Acknowledge that you’ve explored alternatives before coming to them. Whether it’s tightening your budget, taking on extra work, or cutting back on expenses, let them know this request is your last resort.

  • "What happens if you can't make the payments as planned?"

Discuss a backup plan. This could involve offering something for collateral or setting up a contingency in case of unforeseen circumstances, which shows you’re considering their risk as well.

Setting the Terms

Moving forward from a successful conversation where someone has agreed to lend you money, the next step is to establish clear terms. This process is about building a strong foundation of mutual understanding and agreement, ensuring both you and the person helping you have clear expectations and commitments.

Make sure to address the following loan terms:

  • Total Amount and Repayment Schedule: Clearly state the amount you are borrowing and propose a specific repayment schedule. For instance, if you are borrowing $1,000, you might suggest repaying it in $200 monthly installments over five months, starting from a specific date, like June 15th.
  • Payment Method: Specify how you will make payments, whether through bank transfer, cash, or a digital payment service.
  • Contingency Plan: Include a plan for what will happen if you're unable to meet a payment, committing to communicate any potential delays in advance.
  • Interest Rate and Late Payment Terms: If interest is involved, detail the rate and how it will be calculated. Also, clearly articulate any terms regarding late payments, such as additional fees or rate adjustments.

To solidify these terms, drafting a written agreement can be a positive step, particularly for significant sums or detailed arrangements. This agreement should comprehensively cover all the terms: the loan amount, repayment schedule, any interest rate, late payment consequences, and contact information for everyone involved, complete with signatures.

How to Handle a 'No' When You Ask Someone for Money

Even with well-prepared terms and a clear message, there's always the possibility of not receiving the financial support you seek. Remember, a rejection isn't the end of your journey to financial stability. It's an opportunity to reassess, learn, and explore alternative paths to achieving your financial goals.

Person receiving negative response from another personHandling this situation with grace and resilience is key, and there are several constructive steps you can take:

  • Reflect and Regroup: First, give yourself time to process any feelings of disappointment. It's natural to feel disheartened but use this time to reflect constructively on your situation.
  • Review Your Approach: Look back at how you made your request. Consider if there are aspects you could improve, such as clarifying your needs, adjusting your tone, or presenting your repayment plan more effectively.
  • Expand Your Network: If your immediate circle can't provide assistance, think about reaching out to a wider network. This might include colleagues, acquaintances, or community groups you're involved with.
  • Seek Financial Counseling: Professional advice can be invaluable. A financial counselor might help with managing debts or developing a budget to better your financial situation.
  • Utilize Community Resources: Your local community center could offer resources like food banks, emergency funds, or utility assistance programs. Online platforms like GoFundMe also present an opportunity to raise funds from a broader audience.
  • Explore Government Assistance: Research government programs that you might be eligible for. This could include unemployment benefits, housing assistance, or other social welfare programs designed to provide financial support in times of need.
  • Plan and Prepare for Future Requests: If you decide to ask again, refine your message. A more detailed budget plan or a story that emotionally connects with potential supporters could make a difference.

Tips and Pitfalls

As we've explored various aspects of asking for financial assistance, from timing to handling rejections, it's equally important to highlight some best practices and common pitfalls when asking for money. These tips are designed to help you approach the situation with sensitivity and awareness, ensuring that you respect the other person's boundaries and maintain healthy relationships.

Do's: Effective Strategies for Making Your Money Request

  • Maintain Confidentiality: Discuss financial matters in private settings. Avoid sharing details with others who are not involved to respect everyone’s privacy.
  • Understand Comfort Levels: Start with a casual conversation and gauge their response before diving into your request. If they seem hesitant, it might be best to reconsider or approach the topic differently.
  • Choose the Right Moment: Opt for a relaxed setting, perhaps over coffee or in a comfortable environment, avoiding times of stress or busy schedules.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Research or politely inquire about any cultural norms or beliefs related to money lending and borrowing in their culture. Show respect by aligning your request with these practices.
  • Clear Communication: Be specific about the amount needed, the reason for the request, and your repayment plan. Clarity eliminates ambiguity and helps build trust.
  • Express Gratitude: Show genuine appreciation for their time and consideration, regardless of whether they agree to help or not. A simple thank you can go a long way.

Don'ts: Practices to Avoid When Asking for Money

  • Avoid Frequent Requests: Repeatedly asking the same person for money can create discomfort and strain the relationship.  Keep track of your asks and try not to overburden one individual.
  • Diversify Your Options: Research other potential sources, such as community aid, financial institutions, or crowdfunding platforms, to reduce dependency on a single person.
  • Respect Decisions: If they decline, respond with understanding. Ask if they’re comfortable sharing their reasons, which might offer you insights for future requests.
  • Don’t Pressure: Steer clear of using emotional appeals or making the person feel obligated. Keep the conversation light and pressure-free.
  • Avoid Assumptions: Don’t assume their financial capability. Respect their privacy and financial situation, as not everyone who appears financially stable can afford to lend money.
  • Be Mindful of Your Approach: Be honest about your situation without dramatizing. Exaggeration can lead to mistrust and damage your credibility.


Asking for money is a sensitive endeavor that requires tact, transparency, and respect for personal boundaries. Whether you're navigating how to ask politely, setting clear repayment terms, or dealing with rejection, it's advised to approach each step with a blend of emotional intelligence and practical strategy.

By employing persuasive techniques, remaining discreet, and recognizing the limits of your requests, you can maintain dignity and positive relationships. Remember, the path to securing financial assistance is as much about the approach as it is about the ask itself.

Ana-Maria Sanders, author at OpenLoans
Lead Writer
Ana-Maria Sanders is a highly-regarded writer with over a decade of expertise in the personal finance sphere, specializing in loans and credit cards.
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