A local woman, Ashley Andrews, has recently made waves with a clever concept to ensure she is paid back by her friends. The strategy, hailed as ‘groundbreaking’ by the Australian Financial Review, involves a small percentage addition to the amount owed every week the debt is left unpaid. Brisbane’s own home-grown girl is even being hailed by economists as a modern-day Shylock (of The Merchant of Venice fame).
On many occasions, Ashley has fronted the bill for restaurants, organised and paid for group presents, or bought event tickets for a number of her friends. When we spoke to Ms. Andrews she described the action as “not a hassle”, repeatedly saying that she doesn’t mind constantly being owed hundreds upon hundreds of dollars from her nearest friends. Her ground-breaking strategy began to germinate one day when Ms Andrews was so broke that she could not afford shoes, and had to wear tuckshop bags on her feet to university, like the High Sparrow from Game of Thrones.
“I know I am just the most organised person in the group,” Andrews explained to The Obiter, “I just happen to be the first to offer to pay and I’m happy to do it, I just don’t want it to be awkward but I am sure there are others who would be willing to pay for everyone.”
Ashley’s altruism and benevolence was going largely unnoticed by the wider community, as she made her quiet contribution without seeking reward or recognition. However, tired of making her friends feel uncomfortable by asking them multiple times to pay her back, Ms Andrews formulated a most ingenious way to motivate her friends to transfer her money quickly. She explains that “basically, if you owe me $23 for a present and you don’t pay within one week, the next week you will owe me $23 plus 10%,” Ms Andrews does some quick sum-work in her head and spits out that the friend owing would be required to pay $25.30 the following week and the week after, 10% more of that latest amount.
Andrews calls the system “intrigue”, and says there is simple intrigue and compound intrigue. The above example which Ashley uses with her friends is compound intrigue. Ashley states that she simply messages her friends when money is owing, and that by replying to the message, they agree to be contractually bound to the system she set up!
The idea has catapulted Ashley into the limelight, with local economists describing it as “…simplistic, but genuinely earth-shattering” and Ashley’s friends describing it as “an absolute crock of shit…” and “highway robbery”.
Ashley herself is overwhelmed by the responses. Her clever system has not only meant that she has recovered her debts quicker, but she no longer has to work part-time to support herself, she recoups her living expenses from late payments she is owed.
“The best part about it is that all the extra things are covered too, I would often spend money on gift wrapping and cards and unpaid corkage but now I don’t have to worry about these things burning a hole in my pocket because the cost has been passed onto the end-user… I mean, my friends” says Ashley Andrews.
Ashley’s gift of giving has extended even further recently, where she has offered to pay for a house for one of her friends. “I honestly don’t mind, I know I will get paid back in a few decades. They will know to pay me back because if they don’t then they will have to pay lots of intrigue so really everyone wins!