Why You Should (or Shouldn't) Borrow Money From Friends And Family
Whether you're starting up a new business, moving to another city, putting the kids through college, or paying off your maxed out credit cards, the time may come when you need to borrow some much-needed money. Lots of folks take the bank loan route, but not everyone qualifies, interest rates can be exorbitant, or another roadblock can make this path difficult or impossible to take.
That's why borrowing funds from family or friends becomes a feasible solution for those in need of financial aid. But before you take that route, consider the pros and cons of borrowing from those close to you. It's a blessing for a loved one to offer or agree to help you out, but there's more that goes into the transaction than a smile and a handshake. Weigh these plusses and minuses to assess whether or not borrowing from a friend or family member is the best choice for your financial needs.
When you're dealing with a personal friend or family member, things aren't as rigid as they might be when working with a bank for financial loans. Someone close to you may not even take your financial history or past debt into consideration. They may give you a longer time to repay the loan or allow you to pay back sporadically, when you've got the money to do so.
Intuit QuickBooks notes, "Young entrepreneurs and those with poor credit may struggle to secure a loan through traditional means. According to a recent university study, just 39% of small businesses managed to secure funding through a bank, with the most common causes of rejection being insufficient debt load, cash flow and collateral. A benefit of borrowing from loved ones is that you don't have to jump through the same financial hurdles to be approved. Because they are eager to help you achieve your goals, friends and relatives will often lend to you in cases where banks would not."
So if you need flexibility, borrowing from friends or family can really help you get off the ground or out of a hole. Unlike a bank, they may give you a grace period where you needn't pay them back for months until you can do so with confidence and without the fear of falling back into debt. But don't forget, as Chron encourages, "No matter what terms you work out, it is important to put them in writing. All parties must understand, and agree to, the terms of the loan and the repayment arrangement before signing the loan paperwork."
Lower Interest Rates
Another perk of borrowing from friends or family is the ability for them to allow you to pay them back with much lower interest rates than the bank might. At the end of your borrowing period, this will have saved you lots of money that you can put to better use than giving it to a bank.
If you are embarking on a startup business, a bank may charge high interest rates, as per Intuit Quick Books. "Because of the inherent uncertainty of small businesses and startups, banks tend to charge higher interest rates on loans for newer businesses than for more established companies. One of the benefits of borrowing from friends and family is that you can typically land a lower rate. Not only does this reduce your overall debt level—helping to boost long-term credit for your business—but it also enables you to invest more of your hard-earned cash back into the company. Investing money back into your business will help you grow faster and ultimately pay off loans quicker."
Even though the rates may be better thanks to family or friends, Chron still warns to get the terms laid out in writing and agreed upon by both parties. "Of course it is important for all business loans, even those financed by family members, to be properly structured. The startup money you receive should be structured as a loan, with a written loan agreement, monthly payment terms and interest rate clearly spelled out. This will help you avoid disputes in the future and protect your interests in the event there are problems down the road."
They Believe in You
While it may seem hokey, one reason borrowing from loved ones can be ideal is because they care about you, want to see you succeed, and trust you. While a banker may agree to lend money, they don't have that same level of investment in your well-being – in fact, the very opposite could be true.
As Small Biz Daily says, "No one believes in you like your friends and family do. Assuming you have a good relationship with your family members, they're naturally inclined to lend you money—after all, you're family! Friends and family members are motivated to help you financially because they want to see you succeed, unlike outside lenders and investors who are motivated solely by their own financial gain."
Prove to your loved ones that you're reliable and this will be a successful financial agreement. Don't take their generosity for granted and treat them with the same respect you'd treat a financial institution, and the interaction will be smooth.
While the lender may have the best intentions for you, make sure they don't get hit with tax problems because of poor documentation or preparation. According to Intuit Quick Books, "In their eagerness to help a friend or loved one in need, lenders may neglect to consider the effect a loan will have on their tax liability. Not only does insufficient loan documentation open the involved parties up to IRS scrutiny, but it may also lead to a contribution being categorized as a gift instead of a loan."
To prevent any issues, have a promissory note and detailed and signed documentation along with an agreed upon repayment plan. Intuit Quick Books suggests to take the same steps a bank or credit union would when setting up the loan, and you'll be clear of any tax violations or liabilities.
Can Affect Relationship
Money issues have been known to break families apart and put strains on friendships. What if you cannot pay back on time or need even more money than you initially thought? How will you separate the financial side of the relationship from the personal? Can you? Think about things not going swimmingly and talk about that openly before making a loan arrangement with a loved one.
Aabaco Small Business makes the point, "While your family supports you in your business endeavor, they might not truly understand the risks they would be taking if you were unable to pay off the loan they give you. If your business fails and you are unable to pay the loan, you may put your family member in his own financial crisis. This can put a serious strain on your relationship. Is it worth the risk?"
If you and the person lending are aware and OK with the potential twists and turns and bumps in the road that may come, but still believe you can manage the financial arrangement, go for it. Just be sure your faith in the strength of the personal relationship will make it through the hurdles.
Lack of Clarity
A big problem that can come from borrowing from a friend or family member is a lack of a clear-cut arrangement that can become something that over time is misconstrued or forgotten. As per Chron, keep things as formal as possible. "Many people treat loans from family members as informal transactions, but that is a big mistake and can be a big disadvantage of borrowing money from family members. The best way to avoid this problem is to document the loan as thoroughly as you would if the money was coming from the bank. Ask your business attorney to draw up the loan paperwork, detailing the amount borrowed, the interest rate and the required payment terms. Have your family member read the document carefully and take it to his attorney as well."
Just because you have a personal relationship, it doesn't mean the financial aspect should be as easy breezy. It's OK for the lender to have questions, stipulations, and barriers as long as you both work through them and come to a clear and formal arrangement in the end.