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Amy: Hobby farmers sick of paying the tab

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • October 3, 2012 - 1:19 PM

Dear Amy: My husband and I live frugally and have saved our money. The problem started when we pooled our resources to buy a nice hobby farm for rescue animals (a dream we both shared). Although we both work full-time jobs and do all the work on our farm ourselves, family and friends seem to think we are rich.

Amy, we have stopped going out with friends because we always end up picking up the tab for one reason or the other. We receive endless graduation and baby shower invitations from people I don't even know!

For the past 10 years, I dutifully sent a card with a check when we receive these announcements (of course we are never thanked, but that's another story). Honestly, I think most of these couples should stop having children if they can't afford them. Sometimes I think we are only another form of revenue for them!

I like to use the little spare money I have to buy things for our animals, not other people's kids. I know how this must come across to most people, but I don't care anymore. How should I handle this?

Amy says: You're already "handling" this. Badly, mind you, but you're handling.

The way you describe your problem, you are constantly sending checks to strangers just because they have graduated from something or given birth to someone. If that is the case, then give me your address, because I have a few life events I'd like you to help me celebrate.

You obviously prefer the animals you know to the people in your wider circle. All you have to do to lessen your load and stop the heinous burden of invitations from human beings is to stop attending these life events (and/or sending money). You've already stopped socializing with friends rather than ask them to split the check. Now a consistent "No" answer to these invitations should stop the flow.

 

Not-friendly talk

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been friends with another couple since our children were in day care. Each family has two children.

"Sandra" is very successful in the corporate world and is very image-conscious. She is also very negative regarding the achievements of our kids. For example, Sandra consistently dismisses the overseas volunteer work both of our kids have done, even while her kids really haven't done much. It is the same story with academic achievements. They are a great couple otherwise. Should I mention how it bothers me that she implies that our kids are never good enough?

Amy says: If this mom is a true friend, versus a preschool rival, then of course you should be honest about how her attitude affects you.

One nice thing about growing up alongside other families is that you can bask in the accomplishments of the kid collective and also offer a supportive shoulder if any of them are struggling.

This presents an opportunity to examine your own behavior. Are you talking about the kids too often? Do you frame every choice they make as a triumph? If your friend's children are underachieving -- at least according to your standards -- a negative reaction to your kids could be her (inappropriate) way of trying to change the subject.

 

Mattress trouble

Dear Amy: My husband and I have friends who live out of town whom we visit occasionally, staying with them in their home. (They come to our town occasionally but have relatives nearby and stay with them when they visit).

My husband, who has a bad back, says he wants to tell them "tactfully" (I do not believe this is possible) that the mattress in their guest bedroom hurts his back.

I have told him the only solution is for us to sleep in a hotel, since it is their house and they are under no obligation to buy a different mattress for their guests. He says he is sure he can't be the only guest who has complained about this. I don't think this justifies his request. What do you think?

Amy says: If the choice is between staying in a hotel during repeated visits or purchasing a new mattress, the obvious answer is for your husband to offer to purchase a new mattress for your friends.

He can say, "We love staying with you when we visit, but my back problems are aggravated by your guest room mattress. Would you be willing to let me treat you to a new one?"

 

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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