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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been best friends with "Jean" ever since grade school. We get along great, except for one thing -- she's a cheapskate! Jean is single and still lives with her parents; I am a single mother living on my own. We earn about the same amount of money.

Whenever Jean is invited out for drinks, she brings only enough cash for one drink, and then comments loudly that she doesn't have enough money on her for another one and waits until someone offers to pay for it. When going out to eat, she eats at home first, and then asks to "sample" everyone else's food. If she wants to see a movie, she makes sure to bring a date to pay for her ticket.

I think her stingy behavior is keeping her from having serious relationships because she expects to pay for nothing. It has reached the point where I don't want to do anything with her because of her penny-pinching ways. Mutual friends have asked me to speak to her. What can I say to keep my friendship intact? -- SEPARATE CHECKS, PLEASE, IN OHIO

DEAR SEPARATE CHECKS: Because you have reached the point that your relationship with Jean is in jeopardy, talk with her about how her behavior has affected you. But do not allow yourself to be the appointed spokeswoman for anyone else. And unless you know for a fact that her stingy behavior is keeping her from having serious relationships with men, keep it to yourself.

In the future, if you go out with Jean and she says she didn't bring enough money for a second drink, allow her to suffer the consequences. And when she asks to "sample" what you're eating, tell her calmly you'd rather she didn't. I agree that when behavior like hers becomes a pattern -- and the person is able to pay but is mooching -- that it's obnoxious. But it won't be corrected by enabling her, and that is what everyone has been doing.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Money

DEAR ABBY: Because I'm a florist, my niece asked me to do the flowers for her wedding. I gladly agreed.

"Misty" put the priest through a lot to make this a very special occasion. She hadn't attended church prior to the wedding. When the priest asked Misty for a contribution to the church for having her wedding there, she was miffed. I asked her, "Who do you think pays the utilities and upkeep for the church for one-time users like you?" She hasn't spoken to me since! Was I wrong? -- MIFFED MYSELF IN NEW YORK

DEAR MIFFED: Wrong? You gave your niece a dose of reality, and stated it very well. It appears Misty has some growing up to do. Perhaps when her "bridal fever" subsides, she will realize that life isn't one freebie after another, and offer the apology she owes you.

P.S. I hope she thanked you for the flowers.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Money

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