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Aussies slammed as ‘nation of freeloaders’ for common practice

Aussies are letting their friends pick up the bill and never paying them back.

A composite image of Australian money and a group of people sitting at an outdoor venue in Queensland to represent paying friends back.
Aussies have been called 'freeloaders' for failing to pay their friends back. (Source: Getty)

How many times have you heard the phrase, “I’ll pay you back”, only to never see that money again? Well, if you’re still waiting, you’re not alone, according to new research.

A Finder survey of 1,085 respondents revealed one in four Aussies – equivalent to 4.8 million people – were owed money by a friend.

The research found gifts (6 per cent), splitting a bill at a restaurant (6 per cent), and event tickets (6 per cent) were the most common debts to go unpaid.

Sharing a taxi or Uber (5 per cent), travel expenses (4 per cent), and even gambling (3 per cent) were other common debts that go unpaid.

Finder money expert Sarah Megginson said we could be a “nation of freeloaders”.

“Our research reveals that millions of Aussies have borrowed money from their friends with no intention of paying them back,” Megginson said.

“Not repaying money breaks trust and can put strain on the relationship, but it could also cause financial problems for the friend left shouldering the debt.”

Finder’s research found the majority of Aussies (62 per cent) hadn’t lent money to a friend, while just 14 per cent said their friends always paid them back.

Megginson said there were steps Aussies could take to get back the money they’d loaned.

“Your first port of call should be to ask your friend to repay the debt. It can be a bit uncomfortable bringing up the topic of money but if you don’t ask and then you’re resentful, that can be more damaging to the friendship, long-term,” Megginson said.

“Then, don’t cover for them in the future. You might have to reset boundaries with some people, and a clear conversation is the best place to start.”

Megginson said if the situation was really serious, and you were owed a significant amount of money, you could consider further action.

“You can send a letter of demand, clearly outlining how much you are owed and asking that it be repaid within a certain time frame, otherwise legal action will be started,” she said.

“If you receive no response, you can lodge a claim with your state or territory’s tribunal for resolving matters like this.

“Keep in mind that emergency funds are not intended to be drained by your mates – so exercise discretion when lending money, especially as the cost-of-living crisis puts more people in financial stress.”

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