DEAR AMY: I am worried about my best friend and her husband. They are always short of cash and do not have any savings. Their electricity has been cut off twice. They've been through numerous cars and have been in trouble with their mortgage company for consistently late payments.
We are now almost 30 years old, and I feel embarrassed when she is consistently short at the cash register and I have to open my wallet to pay the remainder of the bill. I don't think they spend their money foolishly -- the majority of it goes to bills.
What troubles me the most is that they have two young boys who are growing up quickly.
I resent these people for having these children without being able to give them everything they will need. It breaks my heart knowing the boys will never have all of the opportunities most "normal" kids would.
I have tried to advise a spending limit per week or living off of cash (not plastic), but it went nowhere. I feel as though something bad is going to happen, such as wage garnishment or losing their house. This is a sensitive topic. We rarely talk about it, but should I confront them about their lack of finances and my worry for the boys' futures?
Or should I keep my mouth shut, help out when needed and hope for the best? -- Worried in Ontario
DEAR WORRIED: What you should not do is judge these parents for having children. It is possible for these parents to give their children a nice, quality life without having lots of material advantages, although the chaos that comes with poor financial management is definitely not good for them.
It is tough for kids to grow up in a household where the parents are stressed, behind the eight ball financially and basically on the run from their creditors.
There is no point in you confronting these parents about their poor financial choices. What you should do is point them toward resources that might be helpful and encourage them to change.
They would benefit from a "boot camp" approach to household financial management. They must go through this process together (otherwise one will undermine the other's efforts). Their locality may have a free class for household money management. You could also hope to inspire them by giving them the book The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by anti-debt guru Dave Ramsey (2013, Thomas Nelson).
Among Ramsey's common-sense "baby steps" to reduce debt is to make a list of all debts and pay off the smallest amount of debt first. Having an early modest victory can inspire people to build on their success.
DEAR AMY: Do you think it is any less appropriate, less mean-spirited and less intrusive for a woman to comment that another woman is too thin and needs to put some meat on her bones than it would be for her to state that a woman is too fat and needs to lose some weight? -- Amazed
DEAR AMAZED: Honestly, unless a person states "I'm worried about my weight. Do you think I'm too fat (too thin, too muscular, too whatever)," no one should ever volunteer a corrective opinion or suggestion about another person's body shape or weight.
Weight is a tender and intimate issue. Unsolicited comments can do more harm than good.
DEAR AMY: I'm responding to the letter from "Feeling Sad." Her daughter was having a baby with her partner, but the baby wouldn't have the family's DNA or their name. Sad worried about how to connect with the child.
My husband had an adopted son before I met him. Through that son, my stepson, I have a stepgrandson. (I don't label him as that.) That little boy and I have absolutely no biological link, but we love each other to bits and have a very, very strong bond. It'll all work out just fine. Just put aside the fear and enjoy the love that will fill you up until it oozes out of every pore in your skin. -- Delighted Gran
DEAR GRAN: This is one case where pore-oozing is a good thing!