Conventional wisdom says friendship and finances don't mix and recent surveys back this up.

In the Bank of America's "Friends Again Report," more than half of respondents have seen a friendship end over money and 77 percent of Americans believe IOUs are harmful to friendships.

"According to our study, money is cited as a key stressor in friendships, and friends would rather talk about nearly anything -- such as drama in their family or even their weight — before talking about money," says Meredith Verdone, chief marketing officer at Bank of America told The Street. Trying to ask for the loan to be paid ranked second only to forgetting someone's name as their most uncomfortable situation.

The situation can go from bad to worse. Of those who decided to co-sign on a friend's loan, more than a third ended up having to pay some or all of the loan because the primary borrower did not, reports CreditCards.com.

So what do you do when a friend comes right out and asks you for money? Is it ever a good idea to give in? What if you really want to help? Here's how to handle this sticky situation.

Just Say No

You can say no. In fact, it's probably the best thing to say, for both you and your friend. But how do you do it in a way that is kind and relatively painless for everyone?

  • "I wish I could, but I can't afford it right now."
  • "I've lost friendships over money before, and our friendship is too important to me. Now I make a policy of not lending money."

Offer Other Forms of Help

Is there another way you can offer your friend assistance? Can you help connect her to resources or other possibilities for the loan? By offering to help brainstorm other solutions, you demonstrate your care the the true value of the friendship.

"A true friend or relative will be willing to accept no and then thank you for any additional help," Nancy Rones wrote on LearnVest. "If she doesn't, better that your relationship sours before you've forked over any funds."

If You Must Say Yes

You're willing to throw caution — and potentially your relationship — to the wind. Here's how to set yourself up for the best possible outcome.

Only lend what you can spare

You don't want to put yourself in a financial pickle in order to help your friend out of hers.

Get the loan in writing

To protect your friendship, treat this as much like a business transaction as possible. You can get a free promissory note form online. Spell out the terms of the loan, including repayment and interest. You might even consider getting it notarized.

Don't expect your money back

This bears repeating. Consider that money gone — a gift, if you like. That way, if the money isn't repaid, the transaction won't be haunted by the same emotional awkwardness of unmet expectations. (That is, at least from your end; your friend could start avoiding you due to their sense of guilt.)

"If you loan a friend or family member any money, it's best to do so without expectation of being repaid," Ryan Stewman, CEO of Hardcore Closer, LLC, told The Street. "When you loan someone close to you money, getting repaid is a bonus."

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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

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