What’s Your Borrowing Credit Score?

Posted by Todd Smith

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You probably can’t remember the last time a neighbor asked to borrow a cup of sugar. Those days seem long gone. But I’ll bet you remember the last time you loaned something to a friend, family member or co-worker and had to follow up to get it back. Worse yet, you got it back but in poor condition.

Or do you often find yourself on the other end of the transaction?

For example:

  • Do you have items that belong to someone else that you’ve been meaning to return but haven’t gotten around to yet?
  • Have you lost, accidentally damaged, or broken something borrowed and are ashamed to face the owner so you’re just hoping he never brings it up?

Building Your Borrowing Credit Score

What you may not realize is that, in many respects, the act of borrowing an item that belongs to someone else—whether it’s a book, a tool, or a vehicle—is a lot like building your credit record.

When you borrow an item and return it promptly and in good or better condition, that’s a plus for you. On the other hand, when you fail to return something or return it late, you create a negative impression in the eyes of others, and your borrowing trustworthiness score goes down. In fact, if the offense is significant, such as returning a vehicle dirty or a boat on empty, you risk permanently damaging your relationship with that person.

Becoming a Good Borrower

Good borrowing etiquette is really quite straightforward: it requires you to return the item you borrowed in a timely (agreed upon) manner and in the same or better condition.

Although it’s really rather simple, most of us are guilty of violating these rules much more often than we should. While we can say “It’s because I’m too busy,” the real reason people ignore borrowing etiquette is because they don’t believe it’s important.

I’m taking time today to remind you that being a good borrower is important. When you make the effort to return borrowed items on time and in good condition, you are communicating respect for others and their property.  Because this is an area in which most people fall short, it helps you stand out as being responsible. What’s more, when you have a reputation as a good borrower, people are more willing to help you in the future.

Borrowing Tips

If you find it necessary to ask someone to borrow anything, here are five things you can do to build your borrowing trustworthiness and preserve your reputation:

1. When you borrow something such as a stapler from a co-worker’s desk, dental floss from another family member’s bathroom, or a weed trimmer from your neighbor, return what you borrowed as soon as you are done using it.

2. When you borrow something such as a book or movie from a friend, make a note on your calendar or your to-do list to return it.

3. If you borrow someone’s car, truck, boat, lawn mower, or snowmobile, always return it with more gas than when you borrowed it.

4. If you have borrowed a vehicle for more than a day, I suggest filling it up with gas and washing it before returning it.

5. When you return the item, if appropriate, consider including a handwritten note of thanks.

Where there’s a borrower, there’s a lender. When you’re the one doing the lending, remember that it’s a good idea to keep track of anything you lend out and don’t lend out items you really care about or couldn’t bear to lose.

Good borrowing habits most definitely matter. I encourage you to make a commitment today to never again return an item late or in worse condition than when you received it.

To help you maintain good relationships and preserve your reputation, ensure that your borrowing habits reflect positively on your character.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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