Here's the latest installment of the "Friendship Court."
Nicole from Delaware writes: My best friend Barbara has been suffering all the effects of the recession: she lost her job, maxed out her credit and has gone through her savings.
Three months ago, she begged me to co-sign a credit card for her. She needed to buy groceries and what she claimed were other necessities and she swore she would make timely payments on the card by finding some kind of work. I did this for her without telling my husband because she is my best friend and I thought she would never hurt me.
Barbara has since racked up $3200 of debt on the card and has yet to make a payment or take a job. The only jobs available are, she says, "beneath her." The credit card company is calling my house everyday and has found my work number.
I have had numerous arguments with Barbara and all she says is "What do you want me to do? I have no money!" If I don't find a way to pay down the card, my credit will be affected and my husband will find out. I am so angry with Barbara! Can you throw her in "Friendship Jail"?
Guest blogger Leslie Adler: I would throw her in "Friendship Jail" and lock away the key if I could, Nicole, but that wouldn't help. And as a law-abiding "judge," I would have to throw you in as an accomplice, because you broke a cardinal rule of friendship --- you lent a friend money. Barbara, in her desperation, has put you in an unforgiveable situation.
She should be doing whatever work will enable her to make payments on that card, even minimal payments that show good faith. Close that card, work with the company to negotiate a payment you can manage and get Barbara to sign a promissory note for the total debt she owes you with a date by which she will pay you in full.
If she fails to pay that, then you will have a document you can take to a real court. If she "gets back on her feet," maybe you two can one day find a way to get back on "friendship track." Until then, remember "don't poop where you eat." Translation, "don't mix business with friendship unless all the rules are carefully laid out."