DEAR AMY: My mother frequently borrows money from me at the last minute for various reasons. The “loan” amounts have gotten progressively higher, as I’ve climbed the ranks at my company. I’ve been paid back 30 percent to 40 percent of the time, but she “owes” me close to $10,000. My mom lives in a Third World country where the cost of living has been increasing. However, she makes questionable decisions regarding her finances, including extensive online shopping, and helping my fully able-bodied brother in Florida with his expenses. This includes “loaning” him money to buy a car and an engagement ring for his girlfriend. I live in New York City and I’ve been trying to buy an apartment. I found a place and want to make an offer. As luck would have it, Mom just asked me for a loan for $4,000 to pay off the mortgage on a piece of property she’s renovated, which she inherited from my grandmother. She says she’s in a bind and the payment is past due. She won’t ask my aunt (her sister) who co-owns the property, because she doesn’t want to appear like she can’t handle her finances. My aunt has her own issues with her finances, and may soon be out of work. Loaning my mother the money would jeopardize my ability to buy this home. But not loaning the money means they’d be in arrears for the mortgage and possibly face other repercussions I may not know about. Do you have any advice?
DEAR S: You seem to be shoring up a financial house of cards, where money flows back and forth among family members, always in the form of “loans” that are seldom repaid. According to you, both the frequency and amounts have accelerated. You should expect this to continue.
You will not be able to take care of people during true emergencies if you aren’t able to secure and stabilize your own financial situation.
A great way to handle family loans is to use the “Netflix” model (not the video-streaming model, but the DVD-loaning model): Money will be available only when a previous loan has been repaid.
In your case, you can give your mother a break without additional outlay. Tell her that you can’t loan her this money, but that you will “forgive” previous loans you’ve made to her. Her account balance is now zero.
If you think it’s necessary, you might want to give (not loan) your mother a small amount each month via automatic deposit to help with her ongoing expenses.
DEAR AMY: This summer, I started using my city’s public transit to commute to my shift job. As I boarded my final bus connection, I was greeted by a beautiful woman in the driver’s seat. I made it my mission over the summer to get to know her. For four months, I talked with my angel of a driver every time I got the chance to see her. We flirted back and forth. I understand that she may have been acting nice because she had to maintain a professional attitude, but what happened close to the end of the summer leads me to believe that she is genuinely interested. She told me that her shift would be changing, and shared her new schedule, down to the day and time when I might see her. A week later I went out of my way to see her again. When we had arrived at my regular stop she turned to me, gave me a great smile, and said, “I hope I see you again.” I’m so angry that I didn’t ask her out then and there, or at the very least ask for her number so we can meet again. I need advice on what I should do next.
DEAR LOVESICK: Your driver shared her new route schedule for a reason. Now it’s your turn.
I have one suggestion, however. Don’t ask for her number, but offer your own. Figuratively speaking, this puts her in the driver’s seat, and she can decide whether to take this relationship to the next stop.
I hope this works out for you; keep me posted.
DEAR AMY: Like others, I was horrified by the letter in your column from “Not Really Stepdad,” who wanted to have a sexual relationship with his girlfriend’s daughter. Thank you for calling him out.
DEAR READER: This guy doesn’t seem inclined to listen, but he wrote to me for a reason, and I hope he does.