How To Handle A Freeloader (Mooching) Friend


I have a friend that is notorious for freeloading on food, rides, bar cover fees, and a lot more. He’s either unaware, or ruthless, in trying to use others. He has come over and tried to get my housemates and I to order food, just so we would pay for it.

We haven’t said anything to him, but it’s pretty bad.

(I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog posts. If he does, then it might be better that he finds out sooner rather than later.)

A couple of months ago, I was out with my friends at a bar. I had finished my previous drink and the freeloader friend came up to me and said, “Hey, I got you. What do you want to drink?”

Out of shock that he would offer, appreciation for his generosity, and to make it easy, I said, “I’ll have whatever you’re getting.” He comes back and gives me a drink, and I didn’t think anything else of it.

A week or two later, this guy comes over to my house. After five other guys and I order pizza, we divide how much each person has to pay. I only have a $20 bill, so I’m the one who is paying and collecting from others.

The freeloader guy says, “Ugh, I don’t have any money. But, remember that time I bought you a drink at the bar a couple of weeks ago? That will cover it.”

I immediately glanced at my other friend who always gets fired up about the friend who freeloads. It was so hard not to laugh.

I’m thinking in my head, this guy is unbelievable. But, because I was so caught off guard, I said, ”Fine.”

Then, one of my other friends tossed over the money he owed to me. The freeloader friend, next to me, dives for that money and acts like he’s stealing it.

We all laughed, not because it was funny, but because of how real the idea was of him taking someone else’s money.

Strategies To Handle Moochers/ Freeloaders


Handling a friend who is a freeloader is very difficult. Obviously you enjoy their friendship or you wouldn’t hang out with them. But, it’s just that anytime money is needed—which is frequent in social gatherings—they refuse to open up their wallet and pay.

So, there is a fine balance between being honest about how you feel, and completely upsetting the other person. I have used these strategies in the past to help me, and I believe they can help you too.

1. Communicate expectations ahead of time.

Before you go out, order food, or do any activity that costs money with the mooching friend, be sure to communicate that everyone’s going to pay for himself or herself. This is effective because it puts the thought in the moocher’s head that they need to pay for their own, with no handouts this time.

Also, it’s not going to be that uncomfortable because you’re speaking to everyone. You’re not targeting the message to one person, even though the freeloader is the reason it needs to be said.

2. Don’t give in. Be strong in saying “No.”

A moocher is programmed to try to find ways around paying. Depending on who they are, they could hear the expectations and still try to find a way to have someone else pay for them.

It’s important to keep a consistent, strong approach so that they know you’re not going to financially cover them anymore.

3. Stop loaning, agreeing to be paid later, or compromising in any other way.

A good moocher is savvy in getting other people to pay for them. They know what to look for to avoid paying.

Bringing up past times of generosity (like buying a drink), saying they’ll have money next week, or the old “I forgot my wallet” technique is always in their mind in times of spending money.

If you can be strong in saying no, and not compromise in any form, then it could trigger a new assumption in the freeloader friend’s mind. Ideally, they will get the message that no one is going to pay for them now.

4. Have a talk.

At this point, if it continues, then you need to have a serious talk with them. If you’re not direct, they will continue to be a freeloader or mooch as long as they can. Don’t worry about ruining the friendship. If you don’t talk, then your friendship will fail anyway, because you’ll be so frustrated and they won’t change. If you want any chance of continuing to be friends, it’s your responsibility to sit them down, just the two of you, and talk.

Begin with mentioning how much you value their friendship. It’s important to build a common ground early, so it doesn’t feel like a full attack. Then, get to the problem on how they don’t pay for anything and you’ve felt this way for a long time.

Hopefully the message goes well and you both understand where the other one is coming from. If they get upset about this talk, then it might be time for step five.

5. Hangout with them less, or drop the friendship.

If you’ve given them a chance to change as you’ve gone through steps one to four, then you might need to do the best thing for you and them: drop the friendship.

It seems harsh, but it’s their own doing. The only way for them to change their mindset about paying is to be faced with negative results. If you hang out with them less, then hopefully they are smart enough to know the reason why, and make progress in paying.

Last Words

Comment below about your experience with a freeloader or mooching friend, and how you succeeded or failed to handle it.

Brian Robben

Brian Robben is the founder of Take Your Success, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs grow a profitable business and reach freedom. For in-depth training, visit:

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Nessa

    for some reason I feel obligated to a “so called” friend of mine. Ive know her for years since my daughter went to school with hers. My other friends have husbands so I dont very often go out with them and this woman that I occasionally see is available as she is on her own too. She has “cadged” off me several times, and I’ve had enough but feel I dont have the confidence to ditch her completely. When we have gone out on the odd occasion she says she has forgotten her purse, or if she has her purse says shes forgotten her card! I know for a fact that she always keeps £10 tightly folded and tucked away in the back of her purse. We went to the cinema and I asked for a single and when it came to her turn she said she’d forgotten her money! So I either had to go in the cinema on my own or pay up, which unfortunately I did. She doesnt drive and never offers to pay car parking when I go out of my way to pick her up and take her home. In fact I feel disgusted with her. I am a widow on a small pension and work part-time – she has money stashed away from her divorce and claims benefits even though she works as an agency RMH nurse and doesnt always want to want to work as she very often has the “flu” 2-3 times a year! How she gets away with it I do not know – other than I think she has it offshore as her brother lives in Australia and she has a bank account there. she never offers to buy a drink – just take a bottle of water with her – re-filled tap water! there is no pleasure in going anywhere with her because she will not go in a cafe unless she gets behind me in the queue and then I get lumbered with the bill. I dont like confrontation and she keeps wanting to stay at my house. last time I relented she ate me out of house and home. I have foolishly given her money when she gave some sob story saying she had no money for Christmas and crying. As soon as I gave her £50 because I couldnt afford anymore, she took it from me without letting me over the doorstep – the tears had stopped and her make up was on and she was laughing with someone on the phone! I know Im a fool but feel that I “owe” her because after my husband died she seemed to be there for me but it turned that I was paying for most things. She even tried scrounging off my daughter – asking for fish and chips and then saying she was a few pence short. typing this I feel disgusted with her and dont understand why I keep in contact, although I dont text her very often and only if she has text me in the first place. she has money for the things she wants – I think she keeps with me because she has scrounged from others and is running out of mugs! she once said we have nothing really in common – only my purse I think!. I am planning to move and retire all being well in 3 years when I get my old age pension with a bit of luck – I have no intention of staying in contact with her as she will not know where I have moved to or will she be able to contact my place of work as I will have left. But in the meantime – this feeling of obligation is ridiculous as I owe her nothing – in fact I believe she owes me but I dont want anything from her other than her to pay her way. but even if she did – the so called relationship has been damaged to the point where I dont really like her at all – I just need to get rid and not feel uncomfortable because really I have no reason atl all to feel this way.

    1. Brian Robben

      Way to get all of that off your shoulders and vent it out. Unfortunately I don’t know what’s going on in her brain and why she feels to act that way, it’s not right. She’s clearly putting money ahead of your friendship, which isn’t cool! Do what’s best for you and what’s going to make your life more positive. Best of luck!

  2. Norma

    Co workers are always looking for free rides and they always ask me and dont offer any gas money.nor offer any form of gratitude. Also request to be taken to grocery store. Get something to check at bank..on top of that ask if I dont mind taking their friends can I stop this? This person keeps telling me she has no way to get to work and owes me money for gas.

    1. Bc girl

      I would simply say that the cost of gas, insurance , wear and tear on my vehicle is too high to be offering a volunteer taxi service. …not that you are actually volunteering. Myself personally, I have my own financial problems I am trying to overcome and am fed up with one particular ” friend ” who despite seeing my struggles to even keep a beater car running and on the road with insurance and gas has zero qualms about repeatedly asking me for drives to her ” job ” which is a 2 hour gig in the middle of the day to walk dogs WAY off my route of travel anywhere where she has the luxury of taking her own dog. Lol literally she asks for a ride to go have fun. Meanwhile if she really wanted to earn a pay cheque we have many opportunities super close to our area , and that I would gladly help out with when possible . Jobs that offer more than 2 hours pay at min wage. Talk about audacity , she took job knowing full and well its not on a bus route and she has no license or car. Lol

  3. Mallory

    I have a couple friends who are not as financially secure as I am. The first few times we all went out to lunch together I treated. They quickly decided that I needed to ALWAYS pay. I would invite them out and they stopped even attempting a half hearted “Oh gee whiz I would, but I cant afford that” and began accepting invitations and just staring at me when the bill came. I spoke to them both and told them that although I didn’t mind paying on occasion, I felt it was unfair to foot the bill all the time for fancy dinners out, and explained that if they cannot afford to go out, we could always do something cheap or free. Despite this conversation, they continued to expect me to pay. The final straw was when we went to a restaurant where you pay ahead of time, they both turned to me without saying a word and waited for me to fork over enough for 3 people to eat. I had enough, I looked at the cashier “one please” paid, walked through the line, got my food, and ate my meal as they sipped water and awkwardly shifted in their seats. Both friends now pay for their own meals, every time.

    1. Brian Robben

      Way to make a stand and get them to open their eyes to paying their own way! I’m sure that felt good and now you got what you wanted—them to pay for themselves.

  4. Sierra Lowe

    I recently got an apartment with my fiancé after living in a homeless shelter for 10months, where he had made a few friends. It started when I had gotten food stamps, when ever I would tell my fiancé I was walking to the store to pick up food, he offered to come along and so would his buddy, who’d invite others. After getting purchasing, I would see somethings in a bag and ask if the bag was his and his buddy would grab the bag quick and say it was his and that he “had our backs” meaning he would pay us back in a few weeks (claimed he did misc tasks for a guy and got paid a little bit for it) and handed a few items from the bag to his invited friend, we said okay, but were confused. Months went by with him still doig this, still claiming he’ll have our backs, still nothing to show for it. My fiancé started to notice his stuff going missing, asked his “buddy” about it and he replied saying “no man if i took your stuff I’d at least tell you.” Both situations occurred for 10 months. My fiancé started working, I got aoproved SSI (physical abnormalities) and my first check I had cashed (before I got it put on a card, and later got a financials payee). The night I had it cashed, only two other people knew I even got approved or had the check. My fiancé and his buddy. I gave the money to my fiance so that it was safe and I didn’t want it to get stolen from me. Sometime during the night someone (I am pretty sure it was the one who this story is about) got up and took the money out of his wallet, that was inside a magic the gathering deck box, with tissues on top of the wallet in the box, had it shut in his pocket, again I say no one knew but those two, after taking the wallet out and said person left $5 in it (I’m guessing to be a smart a*&). The next morning it was discovered the money was taken, the “friend” acted shocked and ran off “had to do something” He gradually got new stuff, expensive stuff and showed us (still with no job). We got suspicious, but he played a good “friend ” act, pretending to be angered for us. When we got our apartment, he was the only friend my fiance had that we were still okay with. He asked to come over serval times, we had just gotten a little bit of food for the place, said sure, but only a few days. He came over, broke ($) and nothing to help, after we told him before he came we hadn’t much food and nothing much to offer. He laid down on our only cushioned furniture, love seat, pulled out his phone, and asked the WiFi password. Later when my fiancé took a break from playing the Xbox that was given to us, he shot up off the couch, and grabbed the controller. My fiancé looked at me rolling his eyes and after 2hours straight of paying on the same account my fiance was playing before hand, my fiance had to ask for it back and the friend said “no, you’ve played it all day and probably yesterday, so I’m playing.” Still nothing was said. This happens every time he comes over, over stays his welcome for a about a week and leaves us broke and no food. He comes in with nothing and leaves us with nothing. Later we found out he’s been stealing pur belongings. Ivwant to sy something to him but, my fiance stops me and we have to make a plan every time he’s over. Don’t buy snacks, he raids the cabinet’s while we sleep, tell him he can’t eat PB&J’s while I’m cooking, or eat every 5 minutes, and we do not leave him alone here. Same result every time, yet we hope he changes. This place is small andgets boring with just the two of us, he’s the only other friend we have, and my fiance knows the problem, and tells me I’m just over reacting and being over dramatic, even when I tell him that the friend disrespects me by telling me I’m stupid and retarded, and saying under his breathe when I join a convo “aww it thinks it’s people” I’ve talkes to said “friend” fiance as too about everything. Doesn’t work. Don’t want to chose between homelessness again or friendship. Huw do I explain it ty fiancé to where he understands and then the the friend so that he understands?!?
    *P.S. sorry about the half book, wanted all points on the table (nice to vent too)

    1. Brian Robben

      That’s truly a tough situation because you’re trying to balance your own needs while also not rocking the boat too much with your fiance and friend.

      But the problem is you’ve enabled your friend. And while he’s taking food and money and possessions from you, which is way over the line, he’s also hurting himself because he’s not learning life skills like getting a job and supporting himself.

      If it was me (I don’t know the whole situation), I would gently tell him how much you’re struggling and how when he takes your stuff it makes your life more difficult than it already is. Tell him to think about how he would feel if the roles were reversed and you two were a burden to him. Once you communicate that honestly, hopefully he gets a different perspective of his actions.

      And then I’d spend some time helping him find work so he’s not going hungry or homeless. This way you’re not kicking him to the curb, but helping him improve his life and hopefully retaining the friendship.

  5. Meghan

    I have this one friend who takes any chance she gets to make me pay for her. Last week I bought her a meal and she flatout had her wallet and pretended to forget to pay me back. I felt too weird to ask for the money though. Then this week we went to buy some nail supplies to do our nails and she goes up to the cash register then turns around and looks at me expectantly and I realize she didn’t even bring her wallet. I ended up paying 40 bucks for the both of us. I was pissed. So I waited two days then texted her politely asking she pay me back. Never going out shopping with her again.

    1. Brian Robben

      I agree it’s so uncomfortable to ask a friend to pay you back when they act like it didn’t happen. It’s something they should know to do, but don’t for some odd reason. At least you know not to shop with her and make that mistake again.

  6. S

    Screw moochers! My best friend is a major moocher and is very slick. I decided after 25+ years to end the friendship. Nothing had changed, he still ran the same game and he is always running on empty along with another friend of ours. I’m sad but free. I’m finally free to not have to pay for friendship. I’m free to not feel tricked and used.

    My best friend was also very indiscreet. Loyalty I’ve learned will get you nowhere. I am my own best friend now and I love it.

    1. Brian Robben

      Sounds like you’re better off for it! Way to make a hard decision and decide you’re not going to pay for friendships.

  7. Luvmyyacht

    We just invited a couple of friends to go on a one month excursion on our boat. We pay for gas, docking fees and most of the food. We had a meeting begore the trip and I made clear that it would be BYOB. They did shw up with the food contributions I had them list in our meeting. They showed up with no mixers or liquor. Realizing that the female visitor wanted pineapple martinis, they brought no pineapple juice. So, my husband had to go out and get it before we could leave. Needless to say, they made themselves at home with my vodka.
    If someone comes for a night or a weekend, I do not expect any contribution, but this was for a month!

    1. Brian Robben

      You clearly communicated expectations ahead of time, but they either forgot or ignored the mixers and liquor—that’s super frustrating! Was it probably too awkward to ask them about it on the boat?

  8. Neeraja

    Any advice on how to deal with a “friend” who continues to access your online digital media (Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Showtime)?

    A little back story, she’s been on her own through some bad relationships, struggling through mental illness on her own, and bad financial decisions and faced homelessness, despite a full time job. Rentals here are few and far between, but very expensive. So my husband and I let her move into our home and rent a room. Now she paid her rent just fine.

    She moved out last March after conning her grandmother into buying her a small house in town. But when she left, she took all of our digital media passwords with her.

    At first, I didn’t mind, I knew she was hard up, I was being nice, since TV is her one salve for her mental health. But as time has gone on, all she does is ask for us to do this or that for her. Something breaks in her new house and she expects my husband to drop everything to come and fix it. Or she expects me to cook elaborate meals for a dinner party that I’m not even invited to. Or volunteer my time to photograph a charity event she organized. And now, she has no use for us unless she needs something.

    If it were up to me I’d just change all the passwords and let her figure it out. But since I’m too nice for my own good I feel like I should say something before I do. Because I’m not aware if she’s aware that she’s a leech or not.

    However my husband thinks it’s all much ado about nothing, let her watch on services we pay almost $500/year for. I’ve thought about phrasing it in such a way that if she wanted to help pay for it, fine. But honestly I’m over it all and would rather she got her own accounts.

    And advice is greatly appreciated.

    1. Brian Robben

      I’d definitely say something to her because it sounds like this problem is ruining the health of your friendship. Be nice and gentle about it, but tell her how you feel.

      And if she doesn’t understand and holds it against you, then that might show how she views your friendship in the first place. Hope that helps a little.

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