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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a female, 20 years old. I live in an apartment by myself, have a new car and heavy new car payments. I'm working two jobs in order to pay my bills. Work takes up so much of my time and energy that, quite frankly, I'm about ready to go crazy. Not only that, I don't have time to go to school, which is really terrible -- because I have career goals.

My boyfriend and I have dated almost three years. We were best friends for a year and a half before we started going out. He's a wonderful guy, and we've always gotten along great. He lives in a house with a roommate and things aren't going well there, so the idea of us living together came up. It's not like, "Oh, we need to take our relationship a step further." It's just that we'd both greatly benefit from it, and we get along great -- so why not? I know he'd be a good roommate.

My problem? If I didn't have financial problems, and could go back to school as things are now, I wouldn't live with him. I prefer living alone. I have thought this through, but there really are no other alternatives. There aren't any apartments that would cut my living expenses enough so I could quit my second job.

I'm afraid if we live together it would be for the wrong reasons. But if I don't, I won't be able to go back to school. Do you think it would be a mistake? If so, have you any suggestions? -- SCARED TO SHARE IN ARIZONA

DEAR SCARED: Yes. Do not move in with anyone unless you're 100 percent sure you want to live with that person. Sell the new car and drive something more economical, and put an ad in the paper for a female roommate to share expenses until you can live alone without causing yourself economic hardship. That way, you won't risk losing a boyfriend.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a sophomore attending college in Houston. Every once in a while since I've been in school, I would receive an e-mail message from my grandmother with a nice poem or meaningful essay. I never questioned where she got them because she has always loved to read, and I knew she probably ran across things like that quite often.

On my last birthday in July, she sent me a copy of your booklet titled "Keepers," and as I flipped through it I recognized several of the pieces she had sent me. Then I knew where she had gotten them.

Gramma died suddenly last month of a massive stroke. It was a shock to all of us because we had no idea she wasn't in tiptop shape.

Last week, Mom and I went to her home to sort through her things and distribute her belongings to family members or her favored charities. I found your booklet in her night stand, right next to her Bible. She must have treasured the booklet to have kept it next to her Bible, which she read every day without fail.

Thank you, Abby, for putting so many meaningful things in one booklet. I'm sure she isn't the only one who has enjoyed it. I will treasure my copy even more knowing she liked it, too. -- CYNTHIA BETH IN HOUSTON

DEAR CYNTHIA BETH: Thank you for your heartwarming letter. It pleases me that your grandmother shared her favorite pieces from "Keepers" with you. Please accept my deepest sympathy for the death of your beloved Gramma.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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