Posts

Caught Between Aging Parents and Adult Children

A lovely new assisted living complex is under construction close to where I live. As beautiful as this place is, it has become a daily reminder to me for how difficult it can be to talk to aging parents about their health and future needs.

Baby granddaughter walking with her grandparents on a nature path

If you’re 40 or older, you’re part of the Sandwich Generation, which refers to middle-aged individuals who feel pressured to support both aging parents and adult children. You likely fall into one of these categories:

Read more

5 Things You Need to Know Before Lending Money to Friends and Family

Over the years I’ve heard from dozens of readers who have lent money to friends and family members, only to have become outraged when the deal goes sour. The problem is they write to me after they’ve made the loan and have been waiting months, even years, for repayment, without success, hoping I can wave a magic wand to get their money back.

I always tell these readers that I wish they’d written to me before they lent the money. Doing things right from the start makes all the difference in the end. Here’s how:

 

One person lending money to another

1. Accept reality

Lend only the amount of money you can afford to give as a gift. Don’t tell your potential borrower this, but know in your heart that the chances of you ever being repaid in full are fairly slim. That’s a fact of life. There’s a reason this borrower is coming to you and not to a bank or conventional lender to borrow money.

Read more

5 Reasons You’ll Quickly Regret Raiding a Retirement Account

I know it’s hard. I know you’re desperate. You’re stressed and losing sleep. Things are tough. You have to do something, and soon. But whatever you do, don’t touch your retirement account. Don’t borrow against it. Don’t withdraw from it. Just leave it alone.

What’s so bad about liquidating a retirement account? Here are five reasons you’ll quickly regret doing that:

 

Happy piggy bank all locked up to keep retirement account safe

1. Momentum

Your retirement account, even during times when it appears to be losing value, is money you are going to need after you reach retirement age. And I can guarantee you are going to need it much more then than you do now. If you bleed it dry now, you stop the momentum—the pace at which it is growing. Think of your retirement account as completely out of your reach for now.

Read more

7 Awesome Ways to Use Up Stale Bread with Delicious Results

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing out food that’s past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. It’s hard and dried out. Tossing it in the garbage does seem like the only thing to do.

But wait! Provided it hasn’t begun to grow mold, you really can turn leftover bread, rolls, or baguettes into something deliciously awesome.

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

26006816_m

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into cubes, crouton-size. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Read more

Plan a Staycation Now!

This summer, a cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn time off work into an amazing vacation experience, without leaving town.

The idea here is to take a stay-at-home vacation or a “staycation.”

staycation famiy camping in the backyard.

Make a plan

Determine the dates of your staycation. Create a schedule and itinerary that includes activities and meals. Make a big colorful chart and allow the kids to participate in the planning.

The point of a staycation is to make it feel as much like a real family getaway as possible, without leaving home. So, to make sure the whole family is on the same page, it is good to establish ground rules that everyone can agree on. 

Save the date

Start with deciding exactly when your vacation at home starts and ends. Make sure these are dates you clear of all regular life, just as if you and the family were leaving town for a period of time.

Establish guidelines

Set a few guidelines for what your family may and may not do during this time. These could include all or some of the following: Read more

Sticky Situations: Lending Money to Family, Kids and Their Parents’ 529 Savings Plans

There is an old adage that warns, never lend money to family or friends. And if you’ve managed to adhere to such a thing when someone you love has been in a real bind, it’s possible that you’re much stronger than I am and I dare say, most of your fellow readers as well. The secret is to help if you can, but in a way that strengthens that relationship, not destroys it.

 

Male and female hands exchanging a stack of 100 dollar bills

Does the Lender Get a Say?

Dear Mary: Last month I lent my sister $500 to pay for her rent since she said she was in a jam. Well, it’s been months now and she hasn’t paid me back, yet she’s eating out every day and getting a weekly manicure! Needless to say, I’m angry. What can I say to get my money back? Seething in Seattle

Read more

How to Organize Old Family Photos Without Losing Your Mind

Let’s see by a show of hands how many have at least one box crammed full of old family photographs out in the garage, up in the attic, or down in the basement. Look at that. Hands going up all over the room.

I’m guessing that anyone over the age of 20 knows what I’m talking about. Old family photos. We sure can’t get rid of them. But we’re not quite sure what to do with them, either. So mostly we do nothing.

Maybe it’s time to stop doing nothing.

Family photos of the family tree

 

Dear Mary:  I have a large trunk full of family photos dating from the early 1900s. How would you organize these? By dates? By persons? I am the only one left who is old enough to remember all of these people, but I think my children and descendants will be interested. It seems quite a task, and I don’t really know how to start. Thanks, Sue

Read more

Revisions

7 Awesome Ways to Use Up Stale Bread with Delicious Results

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing food in the garbage that is past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. So what can you really do with leftover bread, rolls or baguettes that will turn them into something great, almost if by magic?

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

26006816_m

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Read more