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Boyfriend spent rent money on scratch-offs

DEAR AMY: I've been with my boyfriend for nine months, living together for five. I give him money weekly to cover my half of the rent and utilities. A few weeks ago, he confessed that he had spent all of our combined money. This almost got us evicted and got our cable and Internet shut off. While I am very upset with him, I understand he has a problem with spending and gambling (a lot of the money was spent on scratch-offs to better our situation). For the next month, he will be using all of his money to pay back rent and will be unable to contribute to things like gas, groceries, etc. I want to help him financially, but I also want to draw a line. I am not getting myself into debt. I want to explain to him that I refuse to be on a new lease with him after his lease expires unless he gets help for his spending and gambling. How can I bring that up without it sounding like a threat?

-- Worried

DEAR WORRIED: Scratch-offs will not "better your situation." Lottery tickets and other games of chance will make your situation much, much worse. You already have evidence of this.

You are sweet to worry about expressing yourself in a nonthreatening manner, but what you actually need to do is make a threat, and then make good on the threat.

In this context, a threat is a promise followed by a consequence. What your guy has done is basically steal your money, and you should expend more energy protecting yourself and less worrying about his feelings. He needs mentoring to handle his personal finances. Debtorsanonymous.org offers information, advice and group meetings.

You should not be financially entangled with this person in any way (that includes paying his living expenses after he messes up). By all means, hang in there to see if he can change his behavior radically, but do not co-sign anything until he has proved over the course of at least a year that he can manage his money responsibly.

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