Q: I love my parents and would do anything for them. They have never been good about managing money. They are both retired now and on a fixed income, and they have been asking me or one of my four adult siblings for money to help with their bills each month.
I don’t mind giving, but recently my siblings and I have become annoyed because, while they continue to ask for money, at the same time they are also taking short trips, which include hotels and rental cars, and inviting friends out to dinner.
They also have a storage locker full of junk that eats up several hundred dollars a month. We have offered to help them clean out the locker, and possibly make money from some of the items in there, but they never commit. Should my siblings and I continue to help, or should we put our collective feet down? — Annoyed in Alameda, Calif.
A: Put your collective feet down. You and your siblings are good children, but it’s time for an intervention. Before giving your parents more money, you should all sit down with them and help them to create a budget, taking into account their fixed income and what you children can afford as a supplement. Then tell your parents they must live within that budget. Period. Their expenses must be trimmed, and the storage unit would be an excellent place to start.
Q: How do you discourage someone’s friendliness without being rude?
An elderly man recently moved in with his family in our neighborhood. He roams the neighborhood and approaches anyone he sees to introduce himself and start a conversation. He doesn’t seem to have dementia, as he knows where and who he is, but his behavior is a little odd (such as asking for the precise spelling of everyone’s first name).
Unfortunately, now that he has met my husband and me, he comes up and knocks on the door to chat — weekdays, evenings, weekends. The last time I was outside with my three kids, he approached with a stack of photos and proceeded to show me at least 100 prints of a trip he had taken abroad — 10 years ago.
I feel trapped because I don’t want to be mean to an old man, but I dread seeing him stroll down the road. What is the best way to deal with this situation? — Wanting to Withdraw
A: The poor man is probably lonely and looking for human contact. Because you are not prepared to engage in his “neighborly” conversations, the next time he strolls by, tell him that you do not have time to chat right now. If he knocks on your door, tell him that you are busy or that you will be leaving shortly. And suggest to him that he may want to find a senior center so that he can make friends with contemporaries and won’t feel so isolated.
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