Here’s how to recognize a freeloader before they move in, borrow money and mess up your life.

5 minute read

No life journey is complete without meeting a moocher or two along the way. You probably won’t meet a moocher at work, since they’re averse to holding down jobs. But that doesn’t mean they’re not out there, sizing you up.

Smiling at you at a coffee shop. Swirling ice in a drink someone bought them at a bar. Cracking a joke at the dog park. Moochers don’t have to stand at intersections asking for money or hold up a sign telling a hard-luck story. That’s because they’ve mastered the art of living off other people’s generosity.

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1. Reappears out of nowhere

Reappears out of nowhere

Remember your old buddy that disappeared after wrecking your car? If he’s a true moocher, he’ll find you again. He could show up at your door with an apology, ready to move to a new city or between apartments “for now.”

Turning up broke and in need of a short-term loan is the moocher’s modus operandi. If you come through with the loan, you won’t hear from him again – until next time he needs cash or a place to flop.

2. Perpetually unemployed

Perpetually unemployed

Have you ever known someone always “looking for a job” who never finds one? The moocher’s job search can go on for years, even decades.

Meanwhile, soft-hearted people with jobs get to pay for lunch, fork over cash for groceries and loan money to be paid back “after I get a job.”

3. Ever ungrateful

Ever ungrateful

Give a moocher with no furniture your used sofa and she’ll complain that the fabric is the wrong color. Leave a bag of groceries on his doorstep and he’ll gripe because you bought the wrong flavor of Pop-Tarts.

A veteran moocher makes an art of funding his or her expenses with other people’s money, credit (“Can you co-sign on a loan?”) and kindness. Don’t stop paying it forward. Just stop paying someone who expects “donations” on a regular basis.

4. Works social media like a pro

Works social media like a pro

The moocher sees GoFundMe and social media pleas as ways to fund vacations, pay rent or buy a car. Facebook friends are eager to rescue a moocher they’ve never met who pleads for money to stop utilities from being shut off or drops hints daily about having no food in the pantry.

Unlike someone who really needs the help, once the person scores some cash, she’ll go back to posting selfies of herself attending high-priced concerts and professional ballgames gifted by an “angel” hoping to ease her everyday struggle.

5. Skilled judge of character

Skilled judge of character

No one can size up a potential donor or lender like a moocher. Do you have a soft spot for people who’ve fallen on hard times? Believe that most people are inherently good? If so, the moocher can sense you’re still unjaded enough to be an easy mark.

The good news is that a freeloader usually also knows from experience when one well is dry and it’s time to start pumping the next. When that happens, use that time to wise up and polish your own character-judging skills so the next time the moocher hits you up, you’ll know better.

6. Still lives at home

Still lives at home

Continuing to live with your parents as an adult could be a sign of several different things. Trying to pay off debt. Saving money for a down payment on a house. Studying up to become a serial killer.

More likely, the guy eating his way through mom’s groceries is just a big moocher, still watching cartoons on Saturday morning in his footie pajamas.

7. No friends or only new friends

No friends or only new friends

A moocher’s charisma can only go so far. While making friends may be easy for a freeloader adept at playing the likeability game, keeping those comrades is another story.

When you meet someone whose “best friend” is someone she met last month, beware. Moochers burn through friends faster than they can drain a tank of gas in a borrowed car.

8. Can calculate anything but a restaurant bill

Can calculate anything but a restaurant bill

A moocher can decipher to the penny how much you owe him for the craft beer and Doritos you asked him to bring to your party. When it’s time to chip in for his share of the restaurant bill, however, his math skills falter.

Why should he pay for guacamole when he scooped only one chip? A freeloader also loses count of drinks after the second margarita. Pitch in for the tip? Forget it. Or the ultimate moocher move: “Forgot  my debit card, so I’ll get it next time.”

9. Expects free labor

Expects free labor

Moochers don’t hire professional movers for their multiple relocations. Instead, they ask their new friends to show up and do most of the packing. They don’t pay for a pet sitter or boarding for their cat or dog when they travel, either. They ask you to feed and walk their pets, with no mention of pay.

Thinking about asking for help moving or pet sitting in return? Don’t waste your time. He’s got a bad back. She’s allergic to cats. A true moocher has an assortment of selective disabilities for any reciprocal occasion.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC