my coworker constantly asks us to loan him money

A reader writes:

There is someone in my company who every week hits up people for money. It’s usually between $20-$100 and he promises to have the money after payday, but then there is always some emergency. I loaned this guy about $200 over two months that I have not gotten back. In the spirit of Christmas, I said let him keep it, he needs it more than I do.

The other day, he tells me that if he doesn’t come up with a certain amount by the end of the day, he would be arrested, but he could pay me back the next day. I told him that mathematically I do not have the ability to help him and that I am sorry. I also told him that I will not react to this pressure, and that the situation did not get to this point overnight, so it was probably his own fault.

From what I am hearing around the office, he has “borrowed” more than $1,000 from everybody, but I do not think the boss is aware of this. He has no money to pay anyone back, yet he is always finding enough money for cigarettes and lottery tickets.

It is more of a nuisance, and I am not about to go tell on this guy, but it really is making it difficult to work professionally, because every time he comes around, I figure he wants to talk about money problems.

The next time he approaches you about money, say this: “Bob, I cannot loan you money. Please do not continue to ask me.”

Don’t tell him that you’re sorry you can’t help, or that you don’t have the money to help him; just say no and tell him to stop approaching you about it. Also, don’t get into telling him that the situation didn’t get to this point overnight or anything else along those lines — that’s just engaging with him on the issue, and what you want is to not have to engage with him about it at all. So it’s a flat no, a “stop asking me,” and that’s it.

If he continues after that, then you say: “Bob, I’ve told you in the past to stop asking me for money, but you’ve continued. This is becoming a distraction from our work.”

At that point, if it still continues, you’d need to either decide to (a) deal with this whenever Bob is around, or (b) give your boss a heads-up about the situation — not that Bob asked for a loan, but that Bob is constantly asking for loans, and it’s making it difficult to work with him because you’re always braced for being hit up for money. Frankly, I think there’s an argument for doing the latter, if only to prevent him from suckering others into giving him money that he won’t repay.

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