TV court shows like The People’s Court, The Judge Mathis Show and Judge Judy fill up the daytime television schedule. If you’ve never seen these shows–which is doubtful–you’re missing out on a parade of people trying to get their money back from someone else. Just a few hours of watching these cases can give you all you ever need to keep yourself out of these situations. For those of you who don’t watch, here are four truths that will keep you out of small claims court if you can remember them the next time you’re about to part with your money.
If someone has bad credit, you shouldn’t be letting them use yours. Now, this may seem harsh but it’s true. Bad credit comes from taking out accounts in their name and not paying the bills associated with them. What makes you think they’ll suddenly have enough money to pay the bills once it’s just your name on it? Putting someone’s car, phone or electricity bill in your name is usually a recipe for you to end up with bad credit, too.
Family, friends and money don’t mix. Do remember that time you borrowed your sister’s jeans and lost them? She does. And, she’ll never let you forget it. Now, if you two are still going at it over a piece of clothing, the odds that you two will get over a lost couple thousand dollars are slim. Relationships have been ruined over smaller amounts of money. If you must mix money with your loved ones, consider making it a gift instead of a loan for the sake of your relationship.
Nobody really pays you when they get their tax refunds. Ok there are definitely exceptions to this one but more often than not, it’s true. It’s so true that as soon as the plaintiff starts talking about how the defendant was just waiting for her tax refund, Judge Mathis starts laughing. That’s because there’s usually a long time between when you give her your money and when she gets her refund. And what if she doesn’t get a refund that year? Or something else comes up? You may find yourself chasing her all through tax season and the rest of the year, too.
If you’re going to do it anyway, you need a contract. It’s easy to say these things here but sometimes you find yourself breaking with conventional reasoning. If you do, don’t forget to get it in writing. It doesn’t have to be a formal, notarized document. Just get the details down on a piece of paper with your signatures. Don’t forget to date the contract and include the specific date you expect to be paid back. That way if you do end up in small claims court, you have something to show the judge when you get there.