Lesson One: You can save money by never lending money to any one. If you do lend money, never expect to be paid back. Especially not by family members (even Mom), because they will screw you in the end and call you a liar, while twisting the knife in your back. They will also reveal to the world everything bad you have ever done. Additional FYI: People asking for bond/bail money never pay the person back citing it was a "gift" of love or friendship.
Lesson Two: If you're too dense to believe lesson one and lend money to someone, get a promissory note of the money owed to you, actually signed by the lendee, AND make sure there are payment guidelines included. It also helps if you can get it notarized. If you write a check, in the memo portion on the check, write loan with payment due on such and such a date and have lendee initial. This advice includes using credit cards to pay someone else's bills, and buying something for someone until they can pay you back. Additional FYI: If it's for bond/bail money get the person's relative who is asking for the money to sign a promissory note and/or as soon as the person is sprung get them to sign a note.
Lesson Three: If you are given expensive "gifts" of money, or objects such as cars, jewelry, furniture, etc, keep all letters, emails, and tape phone conversations where the person giving the gifts is actually saying those items are gifts. Keep forever, because when you stop putting out they will want all that stuff back and claim it was a loan.
Lesson Four: If you are the jackass giving the expensive items to the money grubbing whore in Lesson Three, on condition they will pay you back, get it in writing. See Lesson Two above.
Lesson Five: Verbal agreements are worthless pieces of shit. If you are a business person, self-employed or otherwise, use contracts for all your transactions and keep every single receipt, written or emailed communication, and document every phone conversation in a phone log. Keep a log of every visit with dates and times to the person's home and have them initial or better yet sign the log before you leave the premises (to prove you were there). (Of course, that won't work if you're a prostitute or sell crack but see Lesson Eight for some "special advice".) This is especially important if you charge hourly rates, but even if you do daily or chunking of time, the person can say in court that you were never there. Keep until the warranty for the work is over and/or indefinitely depending on the type of work done.
Lesson Six: Once again, the verbal agreement is crap. If you are a person contracting with someone to do work for you, see Lesson Five, only reverse to protect yourself. Actually read the contract(s) line by line. Ignorance of what you are signing is no excuse. Put everything in writing, especially if anything changes from the original contract. Keep any and all written communication including emails to and from the person(s), and keep any receipts for expenses or for items that you purchased that were necessary to get the job done. Keep a log of when they arrived and when they left. Make sure all fees and monies to be owed is spelled out in advance so there are no surprises. Keep until the warranty for the work is over and/or indefinitely depending on the type of work done.
Lesson Seven: If you have a police report about the incident for which you are suing, be sure and bring it to court. Make sure your version matches the police report's version or pretty damn close, or forget about suing in the first place. Always call the police and get a police report at the scene of an accident otherwise it will be your word against theirs. Same is true for vandalism, get the police involved and get a report.
Lesson Eight: If you have done something in the course of business or pleasure that is illegal DO NOT SUE the person you were doing it with for the money they owe you DUMB ASS!. The civil court will turn you in to the criminal authorities if they believe a crime was committed. The court proceedings in small claims or civil courts will be used against you in a criminal trial. And, if you were indicted and found guilty in a criminal trial, understand they will find you the responsible party (at fault) in the civil trail 99.9% of the time.
Lesson Nine: If you have a criminal case or even another civil case pending, keep your friggin mouth shut! If the other party to the law suit knows, they WILL tell the judge and then you are screwed. BUT you can refuse to comment as the case is pending. In the meantime, what the judge doesn't know won't hurt you. Anything you say, can, and probably will be used against you in the other case.
Lesson Ten: Lesson I learned from "real" Court TV: You are guilty until proven innocent (Think Scott and Michael Peterson) Watching Nancy Grace will prove that point readily enough and contaminate the jury pool against you; unless you are a cop, prison guard, or Florida juvenile boot camp guard or nurse, or famous actor; They are innocent before, during, and after trial (except for the cop Drew Peterson who is being fried in the press). And what is up with all the Petersons killing their wives for christ sake?
Lesson Eleven: There always will be probable cause to search your vehicle or your person, according to an officer of the law (your word against his - he'll win every time). This is proven on Cops and Court TV repeatedly; you can be stopped for anything, anywhere, anytime, AND the search will never be called illegal, (unless it is a high profile criminal case on Court TV, where the Judge doesn't want to look stupid, so later, he can get his own TV court reality show).
Lesson Twelve: Watch TV court shows; The ass you save could be your own.