Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My neighbor and I do errands for one another all the time. As in, “I’m
going to Costco. Do you need anything?” Or “Can you take library
books back for me. I owe $5 in fines.” The kind of things that are easy
for each of us based on routing and most of the time involve small
sums of money, generally below $30. We generally keep a running
tab, or leave one another the receipt with the owed portion circled
when we leave the goods on our respective porches. It’s informal but
most of the time we get it right or it feels roughly even. But lately she
has been forgetting to pay me, and while $10 once doesn’t feel like a
lot, when it happens more often it does add up. We also share food, as
in “I made a pot of soup” or a casserole, chicken etc. I think she thinks
she’s a better cook, but we both say the right things so I can’t be too
much of a shlubb. How can we get on track?
My simplest advice would be to have everything be COD. One goes to
the market and gets paid upon delivery, which could be in person
instead of just dropping it off. It’s a little more time consuming
because of the How are you? social niceties. But it does reinforce the I
did you a favor part of the exchange, which should make up for any
cooking differential real, or perceived.
God invented paper and pencil for a reason. Or their 21 st century
equivalent: the text message. As in I just got back from Costco and
left me the things you asked for on your porch. You owe me $xx.yy.
To be answered by a return message confirming when payment is
made. Good neighbors are a great blessing. Sit down over a cuppa
coffee and talk it out, agree on a plan, and stick to it.