DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Friends have invited my sister to a “fundraiser spaghetti feed” to raise money for their daughter. The “door charge” is $20 per person, and there also will be a raffle and a silent auction. It seems that “Taylor,” who is 20, needs $8,200 for tuition and expenses to enroll in a program where she will earn a certificate as a dog obedience instructor. To me, this event is terrible on every level.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: After my father passed away in 2008, my brother Jake offered to take Dad and Mom’s life savings and invest it for Mom. Since our father had always taken care of their money, Mom was happy to have Jake’s help. Long story short, my brother lost his job and used all of Mom’s savings, about $95,000, to live on. When Mom could no longer afford to live in her own home, my husband and I took her in.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My sister is mad at me because I wouldn’t give her what she claimed was “her share” of our mother’s ashes when Mom died. Now our father has died, and my sister, who’s his co-executor, is being vindictive.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My grandparents put their home and farm into a living trust. After they died, the property was managed by my uncle, and my three siblings and I were supposed to inherit it when he died. Well, he passed three years ago, and my brother became the trustee, but not much else has happened. My siblings and I get a small check after each crop is sold, but my mother thinks we’re getting very little money compared with what the crops are worth. Meanwhile, my brother has never said anything about our inheritance.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I own a piece of investment real estate, a house, that I recently rented to my mother-in-law. She’s living on a fixed income, so I’m charging her only half of what the place normally rents for. I made her promise, though, not to tell anyone about the sweetheart deal I’ve given her. That’s because my wife is one of eight children, and I don’t want the others thinking I’m made of money and coming to me with their hands out any more than they already do.
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DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I’m a CPA, and every year I prepare my siblings’ and their spouses’ tax returns. I don’t charge them for the work I do, even though some of their returns are complicated and the paperwork they provide me with often is a mess. While I’m OK with preparing returns for my two siblings who don’t earn much, I don’t see why I should be preparing them for the one who in recent years has been making tons of money. Shouldn’t she and her husband at least be offering to pay me?
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My good friend “Amy” recently went through a very ugly divorce. As it happens, the man she divorced and I are both members of a local young professionals organization, a group that’s important to my career. Because he cheated on her, then behaved very badly when she filed for divorce, Amy expects me to give her ex the cold shoulder whenever I see him.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Two of my children have godparents who give them gifts at Christmas. The other child’s godparents do not give her a gift. How do we handle this? The children are 3 to 6 years old. — Wondering, Kansas City Metro
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I’ve always prided myself on being even and fair with my three children, so at Christmas I give each one the same amount of money. Now that two of them are married, I also give the same amount, several hundred dollars, to each of their spouses. I’m worried, though, that I’m not being fair to the unmarried child.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: What should you do when someone you’re with insists on complaining in a restaurant? To me, making a scene is vulgar, and my husband and I would never complain about the service or question a check. Yet we have friends who don’t hesitate to do either when we dine out together. How should we handle the situation? We hate it!
A reader in Pennsylvania says every year, residents on the block where he and his wife recently bought a house celebrate the holidays in a big way. But he and his wife never make a big deal about Christmas and don’t want to spend our money on decorations. What should they do? Also: Why it’s OK to put mother’s care costs ahead of her promises to grandchildren and how to keep a birthday tradition now that friend is married.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: For the past five years, a friend and I have made good money buying foreclosed-on houses from banks, fixing them up and then either selling them or renting them out. Last year, though, “Matt” got married, and now his wife, who manages a fitness center and who knows zero about real estate, insists on reviewing every decision we make. Matt and I never had trouble agreeing on what to buy or when to sell. But now he has to run everything by his wife.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: We have two sons and don’t know which one to choose as the executor for our estate. One lives locally but has family responsibilities that keep him busy, while the other has no family but lives out of state. Which one do you think we should appoint? By the way, neither is very good at managing investments or sensibly handling large sums of money, so their relative financial skills are not a reason to choose one over the other.
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I’m in a bicycling club, and we plan our Sunday rides so that we always wind up at a cafe. There, some of us order lunch, while others just have coffee drinks of one kind or another. I’ve noticed that the coffee drinkers generally tip 15 to 20 percent on their drinks, and to me that’s not enough, given that they’ve taken the table for over an hour. But no one else seems to think this is a problem. Am I wrong?