Borrowing--how Much Is Too Much?

Updated on June 04, 2008
J.M. asks from Minneapolis, MN
9 answers

Sort of a follow-up to another do you deal with friends/neighbors who constantly borrow your stuff? Mostly it involves tools and other things to maintain a household. These people would have no problem affording any of these things, yet they've made no effort to buy their own materials they can easily afford, assuming they can always borrow our stuff. They have borrowed a ladder, for example, probably 20 times. And my husband is a woodworker, so they often say things like they "need to have Joe take a look at this" etc., expecting him to go over there and help them install shelving, you name it. We are so stretched for money and time that I find this a little insulting that our stuff is getting more use from others than us, and our household needs take a backseat because my husband is so willing to please everyone.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

Hmm, this is a tough one. We all know the answer is "no" but then again, you probably want to try and keep a decent relationship with them. Maybe there's something you can trade? The next time they ask to borrow something, why don't you suggest a trade, say 1 hour of borrowing an item equals 1 hour of babysitting time or 1 home-cooked meal?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

These people know exactly what they're doing. They're trying to get free services and supplies, at the expense of your "friendship".

Next time they ask, I'd give them your husband's business card and suggest they schedule an appointment for a formal consultation or services.

If necessary, strengthen your point by saying he doesn't do free projects because of liability, and he'd prefer that all of his equipment and time is used under a legal contract for insurance reasons. Say "It's really the best way for both you and him."

This is neither rude or unfair. It's just honest business. You are right, they are using his work equipment. What if they bust it up or get hurt using it? I think I'd just put it on the table and tell them they can't just use his stuff anymore because he needs it for his job. I guarantee you, if you put their next request on a business level, they'll either pay up because they honestly need the services or stop hinting for "free" services or asking to borrow things because no one can argue with the truth.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Davenport on

Have you considered moving? I'm just teasing...I just read your last request. I think your neighbors are taking advantage of you guys, maybe not on purpose. As far as them borrowing stuff....if it only happened occasionaly, I probably wouldn't have a problem with it. But, borrowing stuff that most people should have anyway (like ladders, hammers, etc) I would probably put a stop to that. As far as your husband spending his valuable time helping them...that has to stop. An occasionaly favor for a friend is one thing, but come on neighbors! If my neighbor cleaned houses for a living, I would expect her or him to come over to my house and clean it for free!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I think you just have to say no. My husband did odd jobs for my Aunt and Uncle and it came out where they were only paying him $2/hr. He finally left them a voicemail and told them that he's just too busy and explained what he has going on in his life now. I don't get why you give an inch and they take a mile. It's that they're taking advantage of your kindness and wearing out your things. It's hard and difficult to keep the peace and voice your opinion but if you want it to stop either tell them no or explain your concerns.



answers from Minneapolis on

It may be that your issue is more with your husband then your neighbors. People can only intrude as much as we allow them. But some people WILL intrude as much as they are allowed to. Maybe your husband just needs to know that you feel that your boundaries are being violated.



answers from Milwaukee on

Hi J.,

I know what you're going through!

My husband is a mechanic and everybody calls on him to "take a look at this or that". And he knows how to fix anything!

After being burned more than once, he got smart and at age 45. He now charges people for "his" time.

As far as boring things. I let my neighbor borrow our tile cutter, being nice and all. This was last summer. I haven't seen it since. She hasn't even called us to bring it back. She lives across the street. I will neve borrow my hubby's things again!

But that's how these people "can afford" what they have. Becasue of nice people like us that borrow things to them. We just need to get tough & say "NO!"

Lots of luck,



answers from Milwaukee on

I am with Anne-Marie and Nicole S, give your husband's card to them when they ask for a service/help and if they ask why the change say it is due to liability.

I would also discuss this with your husband so he knows what is going on and is on board with you. Neighbors can kind of be like your kids, they try to divide and conquer (one says no so go to the other) so make sure you and hubby are on the same page about this. Even if they are not doing this intentionally it needs to be stopped otherwise they will keep doing it.

Also some one mentioned 'trading' services which is also a great idea. To me this is common sense, we borrowed a pressure washer from a neighbor and I had the whole family over for supper and games. I did this without being asked but some people have forgotten to be gracious for the help and that in return they should do something nice.

Once again best of luck! It really seems that the neighbors like you but are taking advantage of you so stand up for yourself and household. My hubby avoids most conflict so any dealing with neighbor problems I deal with... but 2 of the most troublesome neighbors have moved and we now have great neighbors so it has gotten easier for us.



answers from St. Cloud on

Hi J.! You have incredibly rude neighbors! Nicole S had wonderful advice. My hubby and his dad have a contracting business and their policy is NO BORROWING whatsoever due to liability issues.
I would just tell them that due to liability issues you are unable to lend anything. It would be true. They could fall off your ladder, break something in their body and find fault with YOUR ladder and you would be liable.
We have someone CONSTANTLY asking to borrow heavy equipment. The answer is always no. Then he has his wife call me and ask and I have to say no. They get mad and then they get over it.
I think it is wonderful that your hubby wants to help everyone but you are being taken advantage of.
Set your boundaries for your home, business and family time and if people are offended then they were never your friends in the first place.
I hope it goes well with you! Be strong!



answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like you have 2 separate issues going on: (1) People want to borrow your things; and (2) People want your husband to work for free.

For the first issue, I personally don't have a problem with people borrowing my things, so long as they take of it and return it. If this isn't happening, then simply stop loaning things to the offenders. Tell them you're busy using it this weekend, or tell a white lie and say it's on its last leg and you don't want it to be overused. If you're just worried about wear-and-tear on these items, tell people that they can "rent" the item for a small fee.

As far as your husband doing woodworking for free, if he can't say "no", and he doesn't want to charge for it, he can start asking them for favors. He'll do 1 hour of woodworking if they come mow your lawn, something like that.