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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I just read the letter from "Able but Unwilling in Alabama," whose mother and sister are urging him to "lend" money to his spendthrift brother. "Able" said he and his wife had always lived frugally and have saved diligently, while his brother and his wife lived far beyond their means. You responded that if "Able" was comfortable with his decision, he wouldn't have written to you.

He should stick to his guns. The brother and sister-in-law will be siphoning money from here to eternity. Just like an alcoholic, if you give money to folks like that, they'll take and take until the money is gone. I know -- I was one of those takers. I was never taught how to handle money.

I'll bet you get a lot of letters on that one, Abby!


DEAR DOING BETTER: You're right. I did get mail from readers who felt I should have encouraged the writer to stand firm. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: It's time for that brother and his wife to grow up and learn to budget their own money. If "Able's" mother and sister aren't willing to put THEIR money where their mouths are, they should keep quiet. It never makes sense to loan money to a bottomless pit.

Strange, how "Able," the responsible son, is criticized, while the spendthrift, spoiled son runs to Mom and Sis to lay guilt and put pressure on the responsible brother. If the situation were reversed, would the big spender help his brother, I wonder? I don't think so. His selfish lifestyle should not be rewarded. The irresponsible brother should end the pity party and go to work! -- HARD-WORKING MOM IN PROVIDENCE, R.I.

DEAR HARD-WORKING MOM: More readers agreed with you than with me.

DEAR ABBY: The brother made his choices and is reaping the "rewards." If "Able" bails him out, it won't be a one-time thing. It will open the door to keep the money flowing. There is a children's story about the Little Red Hen. The little hen asked for help to plow the garden, plant the seed and pull the weeds. The rest of the farm animals refused. However, when it came time to eat the bread, they all wanted some. Little Red Hen then said "no," because they had done nothing to help.

It's the same with saving money; we go without to build savings to cover our needs in leaner times. -- BRENDA IN AURORA, COLO.

DEAR BRENDA: That's a lesson many people need to learn. Too many are living on credit and accruing a mountain of debt while trying to keep up with the Joneses.

DEAR ABBY: "Able" should insist that his mother and sister co-sign the loan he gives to his brother. That way, if the brother doesn't repay, then they must! But first, that free-spending brother should downsize his expensive house, replace his luxury cars with subcompacts, sell all items that have no sentimental value, and both husband and wife should get out and look for jobs.

It is possible to be supportive of the brother without "Able" handing him money and possibly putting his own retirement at risk. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, IN WASHINGTON

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