Group Gifts Made Easy

Dear K&K: I was thinking of asking a group of mom friends/acquaintances to go in on a group gift for a fellow mom who is about to have a baby. Is it okay to ask for money even if not everybody financially can contribute to the gift? Baby Showering in Biloxi.

Dear Baby Showering: Of course, it’s okay to ask if people want to do a group gift. If you ask via email and use a blind copy email list, those that don’t want to contribute can ignore your email or pretend they “missed” it. In addition, if you make it easy to collect money by giving your Venmo information then people can give money at whatever level fits their budget without the hassle of getting you physical cash. If you don’t have the app. then download it, it makes life SO much easier for these sorts of expenditures. All our best! Katie & Kelly

Lending Money to Friends

Photo from: USN's 4 Steps to Take If You Loan Money to Friends or Family

Photo from: USN’s 4 Steps to Take If You Loan Money to Friends or Family

Dear Katie & Kelly: A friend of mine is going through a hard time financially and asked to borrow some money. It’s a lot of money to my friend but not that much to me. I’m worried she might not be able to pay it back and what impact that might have on our friendship. Signed: Worried in Wyoming

Dear Worried: Lending money when you’re not an actual bank is tough. Frankly, lending money when you ARE a bank is tough. Even if you could run her credit report and look at her past five years of income, there is still no guarantee that she’ll pay you back. If you’re okay with this possibility then it shouldn’t be too much of a burden on your friendship. Give it and forget about it. If you’re not okay with it, then you have your answer.

There are other pitfalls in lending money besides not being paid back. I always advise Classics not to lend money to a friend (or family member) because it might negatively impact your relationship even if they pay it back. Here’s why, Classics, a handful of Funs and probably a couple of Organic Structures can’t help judging how other people spend their money if it seems unwise or isn’t the way they would do it. Yes, this is even when they’re not lending it to those people!  If you disagree with this stereotype that’s because it’s a stereotype, not 100%. Also, more introverted types probably don’t share these judgements. Our point is that if you can lend the money to your friend not only as a gift but as a gift without judgement, go for it. If you can’t? Well then, there’s your answer again.

If it’s a go, then tell your friend, “It’s a gift. You pay me back or you don’t. No questions asked. No expectations and no judgement.” If it’s a no go, then tell your friend, “I REALLY want to lend you the money but I don’t want it to get in the way of our friendship and I fear somehow it would. Our friendship means too much for me to risk anything happening to us.”

The photo in this article is from a great US News & World Report article on how to go about lending money to friends & family (or not!) Good luck! Katie & Kelly

Cleaning on vacation

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Dear Katie & Kelly: Every year we rent a house with another family and they’re super tidy. We’re not messy per se but definitely not as tidy as them. We started out doing it as couples pre kids but have evolved as our families have grown. Now, as much as I love vacationing with them, I let me kids be a lot messier than theirs are so it’s a little stressful for me on vacation to keep things ship shape for a week. As in, it’s so stressful, I’m starting to think we might need to start a new vacation tradition.

Signed: Oxymoron in Omaha

Dear Oxymoron: Before you throw in the towel, have a conversation with your friends where you openly say you completely respect their desire for tidiness — it’s their vacation and messy might be their idea of too stressful — but wonder if perhaps while the kids are still little, they can compromise by lowering less important expectations a bit. Then set whatever lowest common denominator ground rules you can agree upon and call it a day. Alternatively, have the same conversation and offer to pay for a cleaning service once a day to tidy for you — your treat.

Bon Voyage! K & K

The Fine Line between Gossiping and Information Gathering

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Dear Katie & Kelly: I’m relatively new to our neighborhood so don’t have a ton of friend or acquaintances here yet. Recently someone died but I don’t know how. He was a dad, in his 40s and as far as I know, hadn’t been sick. Is it gruesome to ask someone if they know how he died? I’m an Organic Structure.

Signed: Creepily Curious

Dear Creepy: Of course, it’s gruesome to ask. Lol. You knew that though — you’re a thoughtful Organic Structure  — or you wouldn’t have double checked with us, you would’ve already asked someone how he died! Everybody is naturally curious what causes someone’s death because death reminds us of our own mortality. Some people would have no problem with you asking, others would be secretly offended. The way around seeming like the uncaring, creepy new neighbor is not to ask for the details five seconds after you hear about his death, i.e., today, but to instead respect his life and passing by just letting it be for a while. Six months from now if you brought it up with a neighbor, chances are you wouldn’t seem creepy to any personality type but just rather a concerned neighbor.

Best of luck: Katie & Kelly

Umm, Hello, Personal Space Invasion…

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Dear Katie & Kelly: I’m seven months pregnant with my first baby and quite a few people — strangers and friends alike — have touched my stomach without even asking me if it’s okay to do so. I’m a Fun Structure and usually I’m not one for a loss of words but when it’s happened I found I didn’t have any because it’s so odd that someone would touch your stomach without asking.

Signed: Searching for Words in Seattle

Dear Searching: Really?? That’s so bad, it’s kind of funny. I’d hate to blame these individual’s invasion of your personal space on personality type and don’t think that’s the culprit per se, more likely just poor manners. I’d only say that Fun Structures, Smarts, and Classic Structures tend to be the least touchy feely out of all of the types. So they definitely picked the wrong gal to grope. And almost nobody has the right words when they’re unexpectedly touched. I’d say have a pat phrase ready to go for the next time your bump is unsolicitedly groped or frankly any part of your body is. Ours would be something like, “Umm, hello, personal space invasion” and if you say it with different intonations (some nastier than others) you could use it in any situation.

Good luck! K & K

Prenups Not Always Ominous

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Dear Katie & Kelly: One of my best friend is engaged to be married to an older guy who has been married before. He has asked her to sign a prenup. She asked me if I thought this was a reasonable request and since I always speak my mind, I told her I think it seems questionable to start out a marriage with a legal document preparing for the potential demise of their marriage, especially given his track record. But, she’s decided to sign it anyway and is now rationalizing it to herself. I’ve bitten my tongue so far but it’s getting tough listening to her rationalize it. I’m a Fun Structure.

Signed: Skeptical in Skokie

Dear Skeptical: What’s that phrase, once bitten, twice shy? Divorce is expensive $$$. Biting your tongue is the prudent course even if difficult since your friend seems to have niggling doubts about it all or she wouldn’t still be rationalizing it. We don’t know what the groom’s personality type is but we’re betting he’s a Classic Structure, Fun Structure or Smart — the most practical types — so his request is likely not personal just practical given his past experience. Once you’ve lost half your assets, which he might’ve with his first marriage, it’s not logical to take the same risk again.

From a subjective point of view, you could argue that who cares about signing a prenup if you’re marrying for love and not the potential to take half a person’s assets down the road, i.e., once you remove logic then there are lots of different ways to judge/view a prenup. Our advice is not to pass judgement on your friend but to make sure she’s smart about it and gets her own lawyer to review the prenup and layout in layman’s turns what it’ll mean to her. When it comes to love we want to be all heart but sprinkling a little logic into marriage prep doesn’t erase true love.

All our best: K & K

Free Range Kids

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Dear Katie & Kelly,

I’ve noticed that these kids, no more than 6 or 7, years old are playing in the playground near my house frequently without a parent nearby watching them ever. I’ve come close to calling the police a few times because I’m genuinely concerned for their well being with such absentee parenting.

Sincerely

Concerned in Camden

 

Dear Concerned,

It’s very thoughtful of you to keep such a close eye on these random kids. What’s that Hillary Clinton saying, “It takes a village”? Well, you’re part of that village for these kids that’s for sure. We’re guessing from your note that you’re a Classic or an Organic Structure. Most Smarts wouldn’t bother to notice or think about ringing the police in this situation nor Organic Freedoms or Funs who can buck the rules frequently. We take it you’re concerned that these children will be kidnapped or harmed because their parents are not present.

Before you call police on these “negligent” parents, remember, kids can just as easily fall off the monkey bars with a parent present than without and know that stranger kidnappings are extremely rare. VERY rare. Children are 2x more likely to die of the flu and 4x more likely to die of heart disease than to be kidnapped by a stranger. In fact, the average child is more likely to die in a plane crash than be kidnapped. Sure, we’d like to eliminate all risk from life but the way we see it, it’s not our job to eliminate minute risk from a stranger’s life or their child’s. It’s a free country still. Right?

All our best,

Katie & Kelly

The Squeaky Wheel

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Dear Katie & Kelly,

I have a friend who complains about her life all of the time and she literally is one of the most blessed people. She’s got family money, has three beautiful kids, lives in a beautiful four bedroom house, is always dressed to the nines going to fabulous destinations and doesn’t have to work. Yet she expounds endlessly about the things she doesn’t have or petty things not going her way. Meanwhile my husband’s been in and out of work for the past three years; I’m working long hours. We’re making do but just barely in a small apartment and we’ve been trying for a second child for years. It’s so annoying to listen to her gripe especially because she never really asks me about my life. Any advice?

Sincerely,

Annoyed in Alabama

 

Dear Annoyed,

Here’s some advice … dude, get a new friend! We’re serious. Sure everyone needs to blow off steam sometime; even those with “perfect” lives. We all vent to friends but any friend worth their salt — with any personality type — eventually asks you about your life’s travails, big or small. She should care enough to ask every once in awhile.

First, remember to count your blessings because there are probably many. Then distance yourself from your friend. We’re not psychologists but we like pretending to be and she sounds like a narcissist. Back away slowly.

All our best and hope things get better! They always do if you keep walking forward.

Katie & Kelly

Death & Etiquette Matter

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Dear Katie & Kelly,

My friend’s dad just died. There’s a wake on Friday night and then funeral on Saturday. I didn’t know him very well. Do I go to both or one? What’s considered polite?

Sincerely,

Mourning in Missori

 

Dear Mourning,

It’s not really about being polite. It’s also not necessarily about how well you knew the man. It’s about supporting your friend. Do what you can and what you have the time to do. Funerals are not planned so sometimes you can’t make them or the events surrounding them. Kelly will always feel sad that she missed her best friend’s mom’s funeral because she’d booked a non refundable trip to Buenos Aires with her husband and another couple. Do your best to be there for them. If you can’t attend services in anyway, make sure you send your friend a condolence note. In addition, check up on them periodically because sometimes it takes a long time to get over a loss as big as losing your dad.

Our condolences to your friend,

Katie & Kelly

Only the Lonely

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Dear Katie & Kelly

My friend is incapable of being dishonest but she often hurts my feelings inadvertently. Should I say something to her?

Sincerely,

Hurt in Houston

Dear Hurt,

This reminds us of a fantastic movie with Maureen O’Hara and John Candy. “Only the Lonely”. Ms. O’Hara played an Irish mother, Rose, who” told it like it is”.

Rose: Oh, that’s a lovely dress you wearing. Danny: Isn’t it? Theresa: Oh, thank you! Rose: Even though it is a little big on top. Danny: Ma! Rose: Well, it is, you said so yourself. Danny: Ma! Theresa: No, no that’s a problem I have, I’m not really that endowed on top. Danny: No, no, no, no, no. Rose: You’re built like a thirteen year old boy.

Some people can get away with telling it like it is — The Dowager Countess on “Downton Abby” so aptly played by Dame Maggie Smith — and some people cannot — Rose in “Only the Lonely”. Frankly, the main reason the dowager gets away with her comments is Americans seem more prone to take offense to digs in a way the English slough off.

There’s nothing wrong with letting your friend know he or she has hurt your feelings. They’ll likely say something like, “That wasn’t my intention.” then you say, “I know. It never is but sometimes when you tell it like it is, it just hurts no matter what your intention and I wanted you to know. Sometimes I might not need to know the absolute truth.” It might give them pause or it’ll fall on deaf ears. If it’s the latter, spend less time with them. Life’s too short to see people who make you feel badly.

All our best,

Katie & Kelly