Dear Annie: I'm an identical twin and will be turning 56 in February, but my sister behaves more like my daughter than my sister.
Annie, I'm sick of it! My twin sister turned her back on me in believing ridiculous lies told by my youngest brother. Several years later, she showed up out of the blue needing a place to live, knowing "Old Sis" would take her in. She lived with me for eight years until she got a job transfer. She still calls wanting money. I've learned how to make excuses, but I want it to stop.
I need help being upfront with this mooch of a sister, but I've never confronted anyone before in my entire life. Any advice? - Sister of a Mooch
Dear Sister: You don't need to be confrontational. You need to be assertive. Your sister takes advantage of you because you permit it. The easiest way to stop permitting it is to learn to say no. So when she asks for money, tell her, "I'm sorry, but not this time."
If she asks why not, reply, "I have loaned you enough." Practice saying it in front of a mirror until it comes naturally. Write it down on a piece of paper and tape it next to your phone so it is on hand when she calls.
Dear Annie: I have been widowed for 19 years and belong to a support group of women who go out to lunch once a month.
Before I married my late husband, I was an independent businesswoman, cared for an elderly parent, paid my own bills, pumped my own gas, bought my own cars, etc. I was surprised to learn how few of the women in my group know how to do any of these things. They have no clue what their family finances are. One of them had to learn how to drive when her husband died.
Please, please, please tell wives (and husbands) to take responsibility for themselves while their spouses are still living and learn what their financial obligations are, when their bills are due, how to pump gas and all the other things you will need to know in order to be independent. It is hard enough to transition from married life to widowhood without having to learn basic life skills at the same time. - Been There, Knew How To Do That in Kentucky
Dear Kentucky: Thank you for the knock on the head. Along with financial matters and pumping gas, both men and women should know how to cook a simple meal, sew on a button, iron a shirt, load the dishwasher and do the laundry.
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