DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a pretty affluent area. It seems like all my friends have endless disposable income, whereas I do not. We always go out to expensive restaurants, shop at expensive stores and do other things that cost a lot of money.
I don't really have the funds to keep up this lifestyle, but I still want to keep my friends. I feel awkward flat-out telling them I don't have enough money to do what they want to do, but I have to say something. What should I say? -- On a Budget, Scarsdale, N.Y.
DEAR ON A BUDGET: It's likely your friends haven't given a second thought to how much your activities cost. Rather than telling them that you can't keep up, you may want to get creative and start recommending other activities to explore.
Instead of going shopping all the time, for example, take a drive to a fun park where people your age go. Invite them to a movie night at your home where you watch an old movie that everyone would enjoy and you serve light refreshments. When you do go shopping with them, look but don't buy. "Shop looking" is a fun pursuit if you approach it in that way.
When it comes to the pricey restaurants, I think you are going to have to tell them that the plan for the day is out of your price range. You can say it with humor, but you will need to get the point across sometime. Suggest a fun, more affordable option so that you fill the potentially awkward pause with an alternative.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am starting a new job soon, and I am not really sure what the dress code is. I feel a little uncomfortable asking my soon-to-be boss yet another question about the job. Should I just dress formally and possibly be overdressed on my first day? Should I dress down? Or, should I just ask? -- Dress for Success, Rochester, N.Y.
DEAR DRESS FOR SUCCESS: I definitely think it's fine to ask. Your future boss will likely be impressed and thank you for inquiring in advance about proper attire. It shows that you are thinking about how to best present yourself.
If you cannot reach your boss, you can ask your boss's assistant or reach out to someone in human resources. A dress code may be listed in an employee handbook. If not, I always recommend erring on the more formal side for starters.
Do you remember how your boss and others were dressed when you had your interview? That can help you determine what "formal" means at your new company. In some workplaces, people wear suits and dresses with hosiery. In many other workplaces, the dress code is more relaxed.
Regardless, I would not recommend jeans for the first day -- or even the first week. Jeans are very casual. Good luck with your new job!