Money Manners

Brother stole from mom, so make him pay it back

King Features Syndicate

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.

Last year Jake found another job, but he hasn’t offered to pay back a single penny to our mother. I’m frustrated, and Mom is irritated as well. What do you think she should do in this situation? — C.S., the Midwest

DEAR C.S.: “Frustrated”? “Irritated”? How about furious? How about apoplectic? Jake stole your mother’s life savings and left you to pick up the pieces, yet it sounds as if you and your mother fear it would somehow be indelicate to mention the money to him.

Forget about delicacy. Sit down with your brother and insist that he begin to repay your mother by arranging to have a portion of his paycheck automatically deposited into her bank account. If he refuses, ask an attorney whether there are grounds for garnishing his pay.

What your brother did — steal your mother’s money — was unconscionable. What he has failed to do — begin to make restitution — is even worse. Stop feeling frustrated and confront him.

Theater show talk not insensitive

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I’ve remained good friends with my college roommate over the years, though our lives have followed different paths. I’m a chemical engineer and have always made a good living. “Eric” was an art major who now works in the framing department of an art-supply store, and his wife is a yoga instructor.

When my wife and I had them to dinner recently, I mentioned that we’d recently seen “The Book of Mormon,” and they grew strangely silent.

Afterward, my wife said I was wrong to bring up an event they couldn’t afford to go to, but I think she’s nuts. I understand that Eric and his wife aren’t rolling in dough, so, for example, I say very little about our vacations, and I never talk about things like home improvements. But just how “sensitive” do I have to be? — Adam

DEAR ADAM: What? The engineering curriculum at the college you attended didn’t include sensitivity training?

Seriously, let’s assume that your wife is right, and that what troubled your guests is not the substance of your remarks — in other words, that it’s not your taste in theater or your reaction to the show that unsettled them. If Eric and his wife were made uncomfortable by the thought that you can more easily afford theater tickets than they can, they need to grow up.

Of course, you’re right not to regale your less-prosperous friends with stories of luxe travel, kitchen remodels or other big-ticket items that call attention to the difference in your incomes.

But an evening’s entertainment? Come on. You and Eric went to the same college and presumably had more or less the same opportunities. You don’t have to do penance because you make more money, and you certainly don’t have to do penance for whatever choices he made that have put a musical comedy out of his reach.

Weddings gifts good any time before divorce

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Is it ever too late to send a wedding gift? — Tardy

DEAR TARDY: Only if the ink has dried on the divorce decree.

Email your questions about money and relationships to questions@moneymanners.net.

| King Features Syndicate

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