DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: When David and I got married, we agreed formally, in a prenuptial agreement to keep our money separate so that each of us can leave what we have to our children from our first marriages. Unfortunately, Davids only child, John, whos a lawyer, never manages to live on his income, which means David always has to bail him out.
By Jeanne Fleming and Leonard Schwarz
King Features Syndicate
While thats discouraging enough, now David is seriously considering giving his son a large, six-figure loan so John can quit his job and start his own law firm.
When I pointed out that someone unable to manage a household budget is a poor candidate to run a business, David got angry. He said that hes free to do what he wants with his money and that hes not asking for any of mine. He also said that if John fails to repay him, it wont make any difference that the loan will just end up being an advance on Johns inheritance.
But it will make a difference: If David isnt repaid, Ill have to support him when he retires, and that means I wont have much left to leave to my own children. Am I wrong to insist that David listen to reason? Susan
DEAR SUSAN: If insisting will make a difference, by all means do so: Do everything you can to prevent your husband from indulging his improvident son at the expense of your kids.
We hope you succeed. Because if David refuses to understand that a substantial depletion of his nest egg would necessarily result in a depletion of yours as well if he refuses to listen to reason youre basically left with two choices, neither of them attractive.
One is to give up and hope that John succeeds in spite of himself. And the other is to consider ending your marriage before your foolish husband and feckless stepson erode the estate you plan to leave to your children.
Charitable donations take on new pressure
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: In the past few months Ive received two letters one from a friend I rarely see, and one from a business associate with whom Ive never been close each one asking for money. Specifically, they each asked for contributions to the charitable organizations that are sponsoring their trips to the Third World, where theyve volunteered to work with the poor.
I dont doubt that these efforts are worthwhile. But my wife and I contribute both time and money to a variety of equally worthwhile causes, and its never entered our minds to ask others to contribute to the organizations we support.
So am I overreacting to be put off by letters from people Im not close to asking for money to send them to Guatemala, in one case, and Africa, in the other? Or is this the new normal? T.R.
DEAR T.R.: Youre not wrong to be put off, not in our book.
Once upon a time, you were expected to buy Girl Scout cookies from your neighbors daughter, but that was about it. Today there are charities that build multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns around the willingness of their supporters to hit up everyone they know for money.
While most of these campaigns involve the supporters asking friends to sponsor them on a walk or a bike ride and not a trip to the Third World, theyre all predicated on the conviction of the folks soliciting donations that theres something uniquely worthy about the charity theyre supporting something so worthy it merits putting their friends and acquaintances on the spot.
Like you, we have our own favorite charities, and we wouldnt dream of pressing others to support them. But it feels as if, on this front, were in a losing battle.
Email your questions about money and relationships to firstname.lastname@example.org.