10 Tips for Responsible Borrowing

In the Philippines, we have this culture of asking for “utang” or in English, asking to borrow money. Growing up, sometimes our parents would teach us not to lend money to others unless we know that that person is trusted enough to pay us back. This is because “utang” culture is usually seen in a negative light for a couple of reasons. For one, there are times when the borrower forgets to pay the owner back or they take longer than the given time to return the money. There are also people who you know are dependent on others to get by in life and hence, take advantage of others by borrowing things from them without returning or repaying them. In one way or another, maybe all of us have experienced an irresponsible borrower before. This is a toxic trait that we should put to a stop. We should do our part in being responsible borrowers and as well as educated lenders. This is not just when it comes to money, but with borrowing anything else in general.

Here are some tips for responsible borrowing:

1. Only Borrow If You Know You Can Return on Time

As said earlier, it is a bad habit of some people to hang onto an item for a longer period in case they might need it again in the future. When we borrow something, it is only respectful to abide by the conditions that were agreed upon beforehand with the lender and return the item during the given period of time. The owner might need the item as well so it is not good to assume that we can keep it longer than we said we would.

2. Only Borrow Money You Know You Can Pay Back

Just because you are borrowing money from a family member or a friend does not mean that you have a free pass to get away with not paying them back. It is important that we budget our money well to make sure that we still have the extra cash to pay someone back. Some ways in which we can budget our money well is to not make big expenses when we know that it is not necessary at the moment. You can also set aside a portion of your money when you earn so that you can save up on repaying the lender.

3. Borrow from Real Money Lenders Instead

Instead of borrowing from your friends, you can borrow from real money lenders. There are different places where you can borrow money. These could be from the bank, government entities, or other private financial institutions. This way, there would be no feelings involved when borrowing money because things will be handled professionally.

4. If You Break the Borrowed Item, Be Accountable to Buy A New One

If you happen to damage an item you borrowed, it is the right thing to do, to be honest, and apologize. After this, see how the borrower wants to go forward with the damaged item. You might have to get it replaced or repaired. To avoid this, be extra careful with the things that you borrow so as to not have extra expenses on repairing or replacing an item.

5. Only Borrow What You Need

There are times when we feel like it’s okay if we do not have something because there’s always someone else we can borrow from. It might seem easy to borrow, however, borrowing still entails a lot of responsibility. You need to be extra careful with the item and there may also be extra rules that the lender may have. You also need to return the item after a certain period of time which can be an inconvenience to you. In addition to this, when it comes to borrowing money, interest can add up which could cost you more in the future. It is better to prioritize borrowing items or money when it is really necessary. Do not just borrow because you feel like you can.

6. Think About Why You’re Borrowing Something

Think about why you want to borrow money. If it is for earning opportunities, for example, to start a business, then it would be okay to borrow money at first. Because once you start earning, you can easily pay back the money that you owe. However, if it is to simply spend on something new, it would be best to put off borrowing money for now. It could take you time to earn back the money which will be a burden for you in the future.

7. Understand How Interest Adds Up

Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate the total amount that you will have to pay back because we forget about interest. To gauge how much interest adds ups, you can use a loan payment calculator which can be easily be found online. This is used to calculate monthly loans.

Loan calculator from calculatorsoup.com
Loan Calculator from calculatorsoup

8. Know the Terms of Your Loan Before Borrowing

Before a loan is made, both parties need to be clear on the rules for the item that is being borrowed. This includes the returning period, the rate fees, damage fees, and other conditions that could apply. Check out the iRent Mo app available on Android and iOS – they provide you with preset requirements as well as a calendar to properly set up a rental arrangement.

iRent Mo rental calculator for rental equipment
iRent Mo also provides an Item Rental Calculator on their website so that you’ll have a baseline as to how much you’d want to charge for your item rentals (if you go that route).

9. Ask to Borrow Things Politely

If you are the kind of person who is used to borrowing things, there is a chance that you can feel entitled when it comes to borrowing something. This can come off as rude to the person lending something to you. Even if the person you are borrowing from is a close friend or a family member, you should not be entitled to the things that they have. It is better to assume that maybe there are some things that they are not comfortable letting you borrow. You should approach borrowing with humility. In the end, there are more chances of someone lending you something if you approach them in a kind and humble way.

10. If you get rejected, it’s okay don’t be offended

Sometimes, people are not willing to lend you their items or their money and that should be okay. As said earlier, there really is a stigma when it comes to asking for “utang” in the Philippines. Unless you can prove that you are a trustworthy person, borrowing can be a little tricky. There are other ways to borrow money, for example, by borrowing from real money lenders. Or when it comes to borrowing items that you might need, you can opt to rent instead so as to not spend the full amount on buying an item.

In the case that someone asks to borrow something from you, here are some tips on how to be a responsible lender:

1. Have a Clear Set of Rules

Do not let the person borrowing from you take advantage of you. Let them know what the conditions are for borrowing the item to avoid problems in the future.

2. Know Who You’re Lending To

When lending money or especially when renting out a piece of equipment – it’s important to know who you’re transacting with. If it’s a family member or a friend, think back (or ask around your common circles/network) and see if that person can be entrusted with your equipment. If you’re renting out to a complete stranger, ask for identification. The best practice is to ask for at least one government-issued ID and one proof of billing. Both should clearly show matching addresses; this is key because there are a lot of fraudsters out there. Ensure that when setting up the delivery – that the indicated address on their IDs and proof of billing is the one to be used. If the person can’t provide these bare minimum requirements, don’t hesitate to reject their request to rent/borrow.

3. Politely Ask for the Item Back

In case the borrower is taking too long to return the item, casually bring the item up in conversation. For example, if your friend borrowed a book, you can say “Remember the book you borrowed from me? “I actually need it on Monday for a school project.” This is to remind them of the item that they borrowed and to let them know that you need it back.

4. Don’t be afraid to say no

Even if the person borrowing from you is a friend or family member, it can be hard to trust people with your things sometimes. Do not be afraid to turn these people down. Give them a reasonable response as to why you cannot lend them the item. This will help them understand your side without them getting offended by the rejection of not being lent the item.

5. Use an App or a Marketplace to Transact

If you’re new to renting out things and you’re unsure of the processes involved to securely process a rental – you may want to utilize an app like iRent Mo. iRent Mo makes renting easier by providing you with a step-by-step guide on how to rent or rent out equipment. Furthermore, it lets you automatically ask borrowers for the typical requirements needed for rentals. It also has a review system so that you’ll know the good borrowers from the bad ones.

iRent Mo rental marketplace app
The iRent Mo app is a marketplace app that focuses mainly on rentals. It essentially guides its users on how to properly rent or rent out equipment.

Lending our items can be very helpful and convenient to other people especially to those who cannot afford to buy the item on their own. It is sad that it is seen in a negative light in the Philippines. We should do our part in building a more positive perspective on rentals/lending. We can do this by fostering trust by showing integrity in everything we do. However, we should also try our best not to be too comfortable borrowing from other people all the time. Borrowing from others should come second. Making the most out of what we have should come first.


Modern Manners Guy. “How to Politely Borrow Something.” Quick and Dirty Tips, Modern Manners Guy.

Mayne, Debby. “Basic Rules of Borrowing Anything.” The Spruce.

College Planning Center of Rhode Island. “Strategies for Responsible College Borrowing.” Home.

Staff, Millennial. “Millennials and Money- How Can We Borrow Responsibly?” MiLLENNiAL MAGAZiNE, Millennial Staff, 23 Jan. 2021.