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DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who constantly borrows money from me and our other friends, but she always tries not to pay it back. It’s very sneaky and calculated. I brought it up to my group of friends, and they brushed it off and made excuses for her, making me look like a jerk.
She recently owed my friend $200 for a trip we took to Chicago, and she tried to get away without paying her back. I don’t think that it was unintentional because it’s hard to forget that type of money as a college student. She also tried to avoid paying me back $50 for her groceries recently.
I realized she never has money for the important things because she spends all the money she has on things like clothes and restaurants. Next time she asks for money, I’m tempted to say no, but I don’t want to risk my friends thinking that I’m trying to be hurtful toward her. What should I do? — No More Free Money
DEAR NO MORE FREE MONEY: Stop worrying about what your friends think. There is no rule that says you have to finance your friend’s life. It’s one thing to help someone out every now and then, and it’s quite another to become their primary source of income. Just say no the next time she asks you for money. You can say you don’t have it, or a simple no will suffice. If she pushes you and wants to know why, tell her the truth — she never pays you back, and you can no longer be her bank.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve been married for three years to a wonderful person I adore. However, we’ve been having a recurring issue that’s causing tension in our relationship. It’s my in-laws. They are nice people, but they often overstep boundaries and make me feel uncomfortable.
Last week, my mother-in-law walked into our house. I was taken aback because all the doors were locked; however, there she was in our kitchen with some cookies she had baked. I appreciated the baked goods, but I was confused as to how she got in because my husband was sitting next to me the entire time. I asked how she got into our house, and she said that my husband had given her a spare key. I do not feel comfortable with this, even if it’s to do good deeds. How can I navigate this delicate situation without harming my relationship with my spouse? — No Boundaries
DEAR NO BOUNDARIES: You and your husband have to establish ground rules for how you engage with your families. Ask your husband why he gave his mother a key to your house and why he didn’t tell you. Explain to him that you love his mother, but you were taken aback to see her in your kitchen without warning. This is awkward, but the two of you need to establish boundaries for how others, including his mother, enter your home. You may broach it by asking her to please use the key in case of emergency only. Otherwise, you would like to know in advance that she’s coming and when she arrives. Ringing the bell will solve that problem.