A friend of mine has a saying: “Don’t loan anything you aren’t prepared to lose.” She learned this the hard way after loaning out several books and DVDs to friends who never bothered to return them. The icing on the cake came when a friend asked to borrow a photo album she happened to have of a trip the two of them had taken together years earlier, before digital cameras became the norm. The album was something my friend had carried with her for more than a decade, so imagine her dismay when the friend revealed that she had no idea where it was. On top of that, the friend didn’t seem very remorseful about misplacing something that couldn’t be replaced.
I too have had things lost because the person who borrowed them never returned them. I, on the other hand, can’t rest until that piece of Tupperware or borrowed book returns to its rightful owner as soon as I’m done with it. Even if the lender makes it clear that there’s no rush, I don’t see the point of hanging onto items that don’t belong to me.
If you’re the type to loan out items, make yourself a list so you can keep track of who has what. Don’t let people take advantage, and remember that you can always say “no.” If someone still has that copy of “Gone Girl” you loaned them, just say, “Hey, do you mind bringing it with you when we meet up for coffee next week?”
If you have borrowed something, return it right away. Never loan out items to others if they don’t belong to you. And if you find yourself frequently borrowing the same items over and over again—say, a lawnmower or a corkscrew for wine bottles—it’s probably time to just buy one of your own.