Broke Ass Financial Coaching: What to Pay if You Break A Friend’s Stuff
While being young, broke and beautiful is all well and good, some people’s finances are more jacked than others. That’s why we’ve invited Betsy Crouch (aka Coach $izzle) to come onboard and dole out some much needed advice. She is a professional financial coach after all. If you’ve got a question you’d like answered please email her firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe your question will be the next one answered.
“My dog’s tail knocked over a glass of water onto my friend’s computer, now the computer isn’t working. The computer is three years old. Should I buy her a new computer? A used computer of equal value?” – SD
Oh brotha. I am sorry to hear this happened. It is nice when these things are cut and dry, but often there is a lot of gray area when it comes to friends working out paying for broken items. Unfortunately sometimes it’s obvious to one person and not obvious to the other person.
The main key here is communication. I have seen many friendships end over money over the years. Keep in mind that you and your friend may have totally different ideas about how this could be handled.
Let’s start here: Don’t borrow something you would not be willing or able to fix/replace if you broke or damaged it.
So, how could you figure out who is responsible?
If you break something on purpose -
Asshole. Why would you do that? Well, when I was in third grade, Tabitha Harrison had this clear ruler that said “unbreakable,” in a “breaking” font. I saw it and said, “oh, I could break that!” I took it, placed a hand on either end and slammed it over my raised knee. It broke it into 20+ pieces. I was stoked until I saw the look on her face. Dang. So, I like to think my mom marched me down to the store to buy a new ruler to replace the one I broke, although I can’t remember if we really did that. If we didn’t we should have. You break it on purpose asshole, you replace it.
Something that you are using breaks due to wear and tear -
Say you are staying at your sister’s apartment when she is out of town and you head out to put the laundry in the dryer. When you go to unlock the front door you turn the dead bold knob and it turns but the dead bolt stays locked, and you are locked in the apartment. Awesome. Thank god she had a power drill. I broke out of the apartment. When I showed the locksmith the lock he said, “daaammmn, you’re strong!” The inside of the lock was a ball of mangled metal. Clearly the lock had been breaking and by chance broke when I was there. If my sister owned the place then I believe it would be clear to both of us that she would pay for the new lock part. Since she rents, the locksmith bill went to her landlord.
You or your pet/child breaks or damages something -
So you are hanging out with friends and your dog wags his tail and knocks a glass of water onto your friend’s computer. Some would salt the wound and say, “don’t put water next to your computer when there is a wild wagging dog around.” Ok, well this stuff happens. I would say that whoever owns the dog needs to take responsibility for the damage it does. If you are going to be paying for something then it makes sense that you are part of the problem solving process unless you just are made of money and throw down a couple grand to buy a brand new computer. In this case I don’t think that is necessary. The computer is three years old. Here are the steps I would recommend:
*See if the computer can be repaired and pay for it. An awesome computer repair place in San Francisco that is a Co-op is www.techcollective.com.
*Pay for the hard drive info to be switched over to a new computer if the computer cannot be repaired.
*If the friend wants to get a new computer, establish the value of the used computer and contribute that amount of money towards the new computer.
*The computer owner friend may say, “oh I was going to get a new computer anyways, don’t worry about it.” I would still offer to pay to switch the info over to the new computer.
Where would you go to repair a “watered” computer in SF or NY?
Do you have a “friend breaking something” conundrum you could use help problem solving? Send it my way.