Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - Please email your ques­tions about money, ethics and re­la­tion­ships to Ques­tions@MoneyMan­


LEONARD: Sev­eral years ago I bor­rowed $2,500 from my un­cle when I was out of work. We agreed I’d pay him $250 a month once I got a job, and I im­me­di­ately be­gan re­pay­ing him when I did. Then, af­ter I’d made seven pay­ments, my un­cle told me I didn’t need to pay him any more — that we were square. I thanked him, and that was that. But re­cently I asked my un­cle if I could bor­row $5,000 so I could get a bet­ter car, and he said, “No.” He said that he hadn’t got­ten all of his money back from me last time and that he “couldn’t af­ford to keep giv­ing money away.” I was shocked. What should I say to my un­cle? I could re­ally use the loan.

— Max DEAR MAX: There’s not much you can say. Ap­par­ently your un­cle re­grets his ear­lier gen­eros­ity.

We agree, it seems un­rea­son­able for your un­cle to hold it against you that you ac­cepted his of­fer to for­give a por­tion of the loan. But what’s to be gained by ar­gu­ing the point with him? Not much, we’d bet. Plus, this is the man who gave you a $750 gift the last time you bor­rowed money from him, so you have lit­tle rea­son to com­plain.

Is it pos­si­ble, though, that your un­cle has for­got­ten he for­gave that $750? If so, we hope you wrote him a thank-you card and you also emailed your thanks and saved a copy. Show­ing it to him might change his per­spec­tive.

DEAR JEANNE & LEONARD: Be­cause their home is small, my hus­band and I al­ways stay in a mo­tel when we visit my sis­ter and her hus­band in North Carolina. But “Jenna” fixes din­ner most nights, and we spend a lot of time at their house, so of course we take them a host­ess gift and a few bot­tles of wine. When they visit us, Jenna and her hus­band stay in our guest room. While this saves them money, it also means that their vis­its here en­tail a lot more work than our vis­its there — fix­ing break­fast, laun­der­ing linens, etc. What both­ers me is that my sis­ter and her hus­band never take us out to din­ner to ac­knowl­edge all our ef­forts, not to men­tion the money we’re sav­ing them. In­stead, they bring us ex­actly what we give them: wine and a small house present. Am I right to feel that they’re re­miss, and if so, should I say some­thing? — Grouchy Sis­ter

DEAR GROUCHY: Yes and no. Un­less pay­ing for it would be a se­ri­ous bud­get buster, Jenna and her hus­band should in­deed be tak­ing you and your hus­band out to din­ner to re­cip­ro­cate for your hav­ing them as house guests. But since you and your sis­ter ap­pear to have a good re­la­tion­ship (why else would you be trav­el­ing so far so of­ten to see one an­other?), why rock the boat over a din­ner? And why in­vite your sis­ter to tell you where in life she feels you’ve been re­miss?

In short: You’re right, Grouchy. But let it go.

Spe­cial to the Democrat-Gazette/RON WOLFE

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