Dear Amy: I am the oldest of three sisters. I've worked hard all my life, pursued my career, saved my money and had a second marriage to a successful man.
My youngest sister married a physician; their family is also financially stable.
Now the problem: Our middle sister married and had three great children.
However, she and her husband divorced, and he was sporadic in his child support payments. She has always struggled to make ends meet.
We are all in our 60s now and her kids are out of the house, but she still struggles, because she wasn't able to accumulate a nest egg.
My sister's 25-year-old dryer died. She was hanging clothes everywhere to dry them.
I could easily help her, but she is not frugal like I have been. She gets Botox, buys art and jewelry and in general makes poor choices.
I think I would feel resentful if I gave her the money to buy a dryer and then saw a beautiful new rug at her house.
I can't tell her how I feel, because she would only hide her purchases.
I feel terribly guilty, because I am so blessed and don't have money worries, and she is drying her underwear in her family room. Please help.
Amy says: If it hurts you to see your sister hanging her clothing around the house to dry, then you could treat yourself to an extravagance that would make YOU feel better: a dryer for her.
You could ask her, "Do you want a new dryer? Because I'd like to get you one." And then you purchase a dryer for her, have it delivered and hooked up and feel good about this act of kindness.
Your generosity will not pave the way for your sister to make better financial choices in the future. Nor will it lock you into a lifetime of financial support. A new dryer will only get your sister's undies off the sofa.
Dog part of vacation
Dear Amy: I recently invited a friend and his wife to vacation with me at my vacation home.
My friend then asked me not to bring my dog because his wife is still feeling side effects of a concussion she suffered almost two years ago.
His wife is worried that if the dog jumps on her, she could experience a setback.
Although I promised that "Buster" was not likely to jump on his wife, and that we would be extra vigilant, my friend renewed his request. Buster weighs about 30 pounds.
I have been looking forward to this vacation, and the chance to bring along my dog. However, I don't want this to seem like I am making a binary choice of choosing an animal over a human.
While I think it is rude that my friend would make this request in the first place, what is the right thing to do?
Amy says: You and "Buster" are a package deal. Your friend has been honest with you regarding the possible impact of your dog on his wife's health. Any number of factors (including the dog) could interfere with her recovery, and they are responsibly trying to limit the risks.
You should in turn be honest with them, and say, "I won't be boarding Buster during the weekend, but I'll do my best to make sure he doesn't disturb anyone. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether you can still join me; I certainly don't want this to compromise Joan's recovery in any way."
I guess this really IS a case of making a binary choice of an animal over a human, but Buster is your responsibility, and cannot take himself to Atlantic City over the weekend while you're with friends.
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