Keeping it in the Family: How to Remind Family Members about Unpaid Loans

Q: I would like to know the best way to ask a relative to pay back a large amount of money that was loaned to them over 8 years ago. My In-laws seem to have forgotten although it has been mentioned about 6 times since. How can this be handled tactfully. I would appreciate any advise you could offer. Thank you. Stacy ‘

A: You need to have a direct conversation where you say that you need him or her to let you know what kind of payment schedule he/she is setting up to repay the loan. This should be face to face, if possible. If not, then by telephone where he/she must give a direct response. Eight years puts it beyond the tactful level and you really do need an answer. Don’t just mention it or leave it hanging – get a real answer.

Pending Funds: Is it Appropriate to Follow up with Gift Checks that haven’t been Cashed?

Q: What is the right/proper thing to do about uncashed gift checks? Remind the recipient,or re-enter the unspent amount in your check book and forget it? How long should you wait?’

A: You certainly can call and ask the recipient to please cash or deposit the check since your intention was to give a gift. You need to check with your bank as to timing if you re-enter the unspent amount. In some cases anything older than 90 days is considered uncashable; in others you need to wait up to a year.

Sharing is Caring: In What Situations Should you Offer to Share Your Food?

Q: If you go to a friends house that you visit very regularly, and bring a food item for yourself to snack on while you are there, are you obligated to offer it to everyone who lives in the house? Please provide me with detail and different scenarios in which this answer may vary. Also, if you live in the house and buy a food item for yourself, are you obligated to share it with the other members of the household?

A: If you take a food item when visiting yes, the expectation is that you would share it unless your hostess has said specifically that you should bring your own lunch or snack or whatever. Even then, you might offer to share with your hostess.

The answer to your second question really depends on your living agreement. If the agreement is that you live there but provide your own food, then it is your own food and you aren’t obliged to offer it up to everyone else. If the ethic is, instead, that you all share whatever you have, and you partake of others’ offerings, then you would indeed share whatever you bring into the mix.

Fighting Over Friendships: Is it Acceptable for Your Friends to Stay Friendly With Your ex?

Q: I recently divorced. My best friend of 28 years and her husband just went on a vacation with my ex and his new girlfriend on the cabin cruiser we used to own together. We were all friends as couples and she felt I should be an adult about this situation. Her husband and my ex did become closer friends through our divorce. I am having a tough time handling this and it looks like I am going to loose this friendship because of it. Am I being unreasonable? Please give me advice.’

A: No, you aren’t being unreasonable, but one of the losses of a divorce often is friends. It may be that your best friend’s husband really does like your ex and enjoys spending time with him. The person in the middle is really your best friend, for she is now torn between loyalty to you and her husband’s friendship with your ex.  Hopefully, you and your friend can find ways to spend time together that sustains your friendship, even if she will also be spending time with your ex.

Desperate Dog Sitter: How to Tell Family you Can’t Watch Their Animals

Q: My brother in law and his wife do not have any children, but they have three large dogs. They like to travel a lot, and they expect my husband and I to feed their dogs when they are away. My husband has no problem with doing this, but, my husband travels a lot and I have been made to take over. They are planning another trip soon and my husband is going with them, leaving me as the person to take care of their animals, again. My problem is this, I have many animals, horses, dogs etc., and I would not ask them to watch them and have always made arrangements for a farm sitter or I don’t travel. I told my husband I thought they should board the dogs or hire a pet sitter. These are large dogs and they like to jump. I feel that as much as they like to travel, they should not rely on us every time. I feel put out having to drive over every day when I have things to do as well. My husband says thats what family is for and I’m being mean. This is getting ugly! Am I wrong?

A: It all depends on the give and take of your relationship with your brother-in-law and his wife. If they do other things for you and this is a way you can help, it is great. If you are doing all the giving and it is a burden, then you have to speak up, not in the ugly place, but in a real place that you just can’t take on the responsibility because you have your own big things to deal with, so you are willing to help but can’t do it all. Maybe by starting with a shared responsibility – you and a pet sitter, for example, you can “wean” them into a place where part of their travels include pet care that doesn’t involve you, especially when it is you by yourself and your husband isn’t helping.