Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

How To Forget Small Monetary Debts

Why You Should Consider Your Feelings Around People Who Owe You

I wore my pants without underwear. I was 10 years old. All the clothes my parents bought as I moved to dorm life? Lost. I wore the same yellow-white shirt for weeks.

“I’ll give you clothes to wear; in return, you’ll give me your fish on Fish days.”

I agreed with James’s deal. I didn’t have fish for the rest of the term.

Then I lost his clothes.

“I’ll give you more clothes, but you’ll have to give me your bread as well in the morning.”

So, I drink diluted mint tea for the rest of the year.

I still lose things to this day. Not clothes: time, trust, faith.

There’s no classmate to give me some and demand even more.

But this moment in time taught me a lot about money and why you should learn when to forget debts.

I owed it to my classmate. I needed his help. Some would say he preyed on the situation. I say he did what he had to do.

Plus, no one forced me into it. Granted, I was 10, and James — my classmate, was a little older. But, we were both still teenagers.

Those who painted the wall for “fun” don’t go blasting Tom Sawyer for being a good salesman. Did they?

As I’ve grown myself, I started keeping my clothes. And some of my money. Till the point where I was in my classmate’s shoes: I gave someone money, and they didn’t pay me back.

Here’s are three things I’ve learned about such transactions.

A) Imagine it was more. Would you rather lose a little or more?

“Be careful what you wish for;
Not all lost things should be found.” ― Moïra Fowley-Doyle

I’ve stayed suck on $25 when I could have chalked it off to charity.

I’m often reminded that if I can’t manage $10, I can’t work $1 Million.

That’s BS. I’d rather waste $10 than waste $1000.

So, when I lend money now and realize I’m not about to get paid, I imagine I could have lost more. I’m suddenly grateful it was “just” this little.

B) What’s the lesson here? Don’t trust them?

“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”– Anton Chekhov

When I lost my friend’s clothes, he upped the ante. He didn’t say :

“Wow. Now you have to pay me back for the clothes — plus, I’ll take your fish on Wednesday and Sunday!”

No. James gave me more clothes and a choice. In retrospect, it was a tough choice since bread was a rare commodity and often the only solid piece of food at 7 am before lunch at 1.30 pm.

Will I lend you more if you’re unable to pay?

Hell no!

Then again, it depends. Sometimes, people are in need. Circumstances differ. Which is why the last lesson is most critical.

C) What does it say about you? What’s your relationship with money? How do you communicate?

“Money is like love; it kills slowly and painfully the one who withholds it, and enlivens the other who turns it on his fellow man.”– Kahlil Gibran

If you lend someone money and they “refuse” to pay back, it’s on you. First, you’re not a bank, and you probably don’t have a contract.

Second, you trusted them to pay. Your judgment is at fault.

Third, what does it say about you if, after 5 months, you’re still stuck on the $50?

I did this recently. Asking myself over and over again. Why does this debt bother me so much?

It’s not a lot of money. I know he didn’t mean to hurt me. Why can’t I let it go?

Then I realized it was because of the way it was handled.

The money wasn’t my problem. It was a lack of communication and understanding that any money is good money.

This may contradict what I said up above about $10 and $1 Million, but consider this :

If you minimize the value of debt — any debt — then you downplay the help you received. And someone happy to help, once they realize this, won’t be so comfortable anymore.

So, it’s hardly ever about the money, but about the relationship between the two people.

And as you know, money tends to expose what’s already beneath.

People find out who you truly are when you’re in debt.

People find out about who you are when you get a lot of money.


I’ve never really gotten me over the fact that a 13-year-old duped me out of my fish and bread for a whole term.

When I got back home, my mother was pissed!

I returned with my own clothes, no debt, and a new understanding of what happens when you lose things.

I still lost things. I can’t even find my keys right now.

The lessons from that interaction have seeped into my money story. If you change your perspective, you won’t have to beat yourself up like me.

  • Realize that it’s better to lose a little than to lose a lot — especially when you know you won’t be getting it back. Whether it’s money or time.
  • Take advantage of the situation to learn about your debtor — and yourself.
  • Use the lessons each time to grow as a person. You never lose anything by learning something, no matter how much money or time you made.

And the next time you see 10 -year-old with clothes twice his size, remember that we’ve all lost things at some point, and eventually, we grow into the clothes we wear.

“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” — Proverbs 11:24

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Cameroonian writer and video creator. Featured in LEVEL and P.S. I Love You. I write about building relationships and personal transformation.

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