DEAR AMY: For my 50th birthday my parents are going to give me a large sum of money. I have a passion for Indian food, culture, history and art and have dreamed of visiting India. I have looked into tours before, and I know I would need almost exactly the amount my parents are planning to give me. I am a librarian (divorced) and my retirement fund is less than half of what it will need to be when I retire. I have always been careful with money because I have never had much of it. Part of me feels I should save this cash and spend it as needed on the various car repairs and other problems that will inevitably surface in the future. But another part of me feels it is time to spend money on something I want, and do it before my health slows me down. While they've said the money is mine to use as I wish, my parents won't approve of my traveling to India. I am not sure I can enjoy the trip knowing I am spending their carefully saved money on something so selfish. Part of me is terrified of blowing this money and all of my carefully saved vacation days all at once. My college-age children aren't around much and my ex is getting married in a few months to a young blonde. This is my chance to do something just for me, but I am not convinced I will enjoy it enough. How do I decide?Joan
DEAR JOAN: I say go. But only go if you can determine this is right for you and truly affordable. Part of that equation is whether you can really afford not to go. It is not selfish to choose an adventure that could expand your world and change your life in untold and positive ways, but it is foolhardy to mortgage your financial stability. You sound risk-averse by nature. There is nothing wrong with being careful (you make rational arguments), but the fullness of life is revealed in the vibrant colors of new experiences, and no place is quite as vibrant and sensory as India.