Does anyone have a system for keeping track of when someone owes you a small amount of money? It comes up when you split something with someone, but only one of you pays and the other doesn't have cash. For example, I split a pitcher of beer with my friend and he didn't have the cash to pay me back right away.

I'm thinking of keeping a Google spreadsheet on my phone. Additionally, I'm thinking of setting a maximum I could be owed at any time, for example $20. That means, if four people owe me $5 and someone else asks if they could have $2 for parking, I'd say no. What do others think?

Of course there's been times I lend a person money and realize I'm not getting it back (either because they moved away or I now know they're unreliable). I'm thinking there should be an element of time to my formula.

2 Answers 2


For me, when I lend people money, I make a note in my favorite notes app (in this case, Notes since I use an iPhone). Something like name/amount/date.

John      $3    08-04-2016.
Ezra      $5    11-04-2016
Matt      $7    11-04-2016

Once it's been returned, I just place a delimiter (in this case a .) at the end of the string. In the example, I've collected $3 from John.

I've used this method for about three years now and it's been very effective.

names used in the example were randomly selected off the top of my head and did not have the intention of representing any real people.

  • 1
    This is exactly what I was thinking, though I like the OP's suggestion of Google Spreadsheets (in case of loss of device). The only thing is to make sure that no one sees your "debt sheet" or they'll think you're weird...
    – goodguy5
    Apr 11, 2016 at 13:52
  • How do you insert the tab between columns so it's easy to read? For example the way you have a large space between "John" and "$3" looks much better than "John $3 08-04-2016" etc.
    – Celeritas
    Apr 11, 2016 at 21:49
  • I put in about four spaces. You can adjust it to your preference Apr 11, 2016 at 22:37
  • I think it is better to sign the end of each line (instead of adding a "."), a dot is way to easy for someone else to add without you noticing.
    – k-l
    Apr 11, 2017 at 23:59
  • @KiranLinsuain well, provided no one else has access to my "debt sheet" that wouldn't happen. I guess it's important to keep the document secure Apr 12, 2017 at 1:08

(This is a modification of the great answer already provided by @perhapsmaybeharry.)

Keep a reverse-chronological list in your favorite app on your phone. When someone pays you back, add the date that they paid you back, and move them down to the section of "completed debts". "Active debts" stay at the top. Something like this

Matt      $2    4/11/2016
Karen     $5    4/4/2016
John      $3    4/5/2016 4/6/2016
Matt      $7    4/1/2016 4/10/2016

Keeping a history, and noting when people pay you back, lets you see how long each person takes to pay you back, in case you're interested later on. For example, Matt took 9 days to pay you back, but John paid you back the next day. Also, Matt has borrowed money twice recently. (I'm not sure how I feel about Matt....)


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.