DEAR ABBY: I'm 26 and concerned about my parents' future. They are in their late 40s and have absolutely nothing saved for retirement. Dad has a physically demanding job and won't be able to do it forever, and they are currently in debt up to their ears.
There are six kids in our family. I appreciate the fact that my parents are blowing off some steam when it comes to spending money, since they were unable to do it while we were all younger. However, I feel it's time they look at the big picture.
If something was to happen to Dad or he was unable to work, they'd lose everything. At this point, they will be unable to pay for any of their own expenses when they're older, and my siblings and I don't have money to support them. Our youngest brother still lives at home and is adopting the same spending habits as Mom and Dad.
How would you recommend we speak to our parents? They tend to be sensitive about these matters. Do you know of any articles or books we could reference when speaking to them? -- PENNYWISE IN ST. PETE, FLA.
DEAR PENNYWISE: Assuming that you and your four adult siblings are equally concerned about your parents' welfare, you should approach them as a group. It's still not too late for them to start saving and investing for their retirement years. And you and the others could help them by offering to match what they save each month. Even a small amount adds up.
If the five of you each put in $20 a month ($100), and your parents put in $100, at the end of a year they would have $2,400. By the time your father was ready to retire in 20 years, they'd have some serious money put away -- not counting any increase in the value of their investments.
The U.S. General Services Administration Federal Citizen Information Center offers free information that could help you. Log on to � HYPERLINK "http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov" ��www.pueblo.gsa.gov� and look under the heading "Retirement Planning" in the "Money" section. You'll find lots of good advice, and you can even order free and low-cost booklets on saving and investing and much more. Or call (888) 8-Pueblo ((888) 878-3256) for a free Consumer Information Catalog. Also check your local library.
Your parents may or may not be receptive to this idea. However, if you turn the matching money into a "game," they'll be more likely to go for it. Good luck.
DEAR ABBY: Last year, against the advice of my friends and family, I forgave my ex-boyfriend. He swore he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I let him back into my life and let him talk to me about marriage and the future.
Within a few months he was up to his old tricks again, chasing other women, so I had to send him packing.
How do I forgive myself for being so stupid? I believed he loved me, and I am furious with myself for falling for his charm and his lies. My family isn't being very supportive because they didn't want me to reconcile. Please help me. -- FOOLED ME TWICE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO
DEAR FOOLED: Please stop beating yourself up. You're an optimistic person who believed in second chances, and your ex-boyfriend abused your trust.
Now that you understand he is incapable of change, it's time to learn from this experience and go on with your life. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes -- and the lesson you will take from this is to draw the line sooner if you notice a person's words don't match his deeds.
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