Have you ever borrowed money from, or loaned money to, a friend or relative? I don’t mean $50 – maybe $2,500 or $10,000? It’s a great way to lose both friends and money.

I’m pretty sure that’s what Shakespeare meant when he had Polonius say, ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be.’ He wasn’t advising against your taking out a mortgage or buying bonds.

Now comes a new service, CircleLending.com, that could conceivably cut down on the damage. Basically, CircleLending makes it easy to be more businesslike, but without offending the borrower.

I haven’t tried it myself – but wish it had been available before I lent $2,000 to [name withheld] on March 11, 1997, or $10,000 to [name withheld] on June 13, 1993, or $5.000 to [name withheld] on October 15, 1987 or $20,000 (!!!) to [name withheld] on June 1, 1997 (but who’s counting?).

Of course, in some cases, the ‘loan’ is a face-saving way to help a friend too proud to ask for a gift, but too poor to pay you back. ‘Hey, man – thanks! I’ll pay you back the minute I’m able.’ There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that at all. But for a loan that’s really meant to be a loan, this service (assuming it stays in business, etc.) could provide the friendly but firm prod needed to get you paid back as agreed – a service, really, to both of you – just as if you were Visa or MasterCard (but, if you have a shred of decency left in your body – and because you are a reader of this column I know you do – at a significantly lower interest rate.)


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