DEAR HARRIETTE: This June, I'll be graduating from college, and I'm elated because all of my hard work will pay off. During my senior year, I moved to New York City and fell in love with a gentleman. I broke up with him because I knew he wasn't ready for a serious relationship, even though he genuinely loves me. I am totally fine with us not being committed to each other because we still have a strong bond and continue to build our friendship. It doesn't hurt because I knew loving another person was new for him and he needed to take baby steps.
With that said -- and with graduation around the corner -- I'm conflicted about bringing him home. I understand our situation, but I worry what my father may think about me bringing home a man to whom I'm not committed. Am I overthinking this situation, or should I bring him home? -- Friendly, Brooklyn, N.Y.
DEAR FRIENDLY: Bringing home an ex for your graduation definitely sends a mixed message to your family. Listen to your inner voice. It is telling you that you need to figure out what your relationship is. You sound tremendously conflicted about him. Think about what you want now and what you are able to have now. If the romance is over, are you truly willing to accept that? Many people who break up need time apart before they are able to find their way to a platonic friendship. Listen to your heart and honor what you hear.
As far as bringing him home, I would not do it. You will face a barrage of questions which neither of you can comfortably answer right now.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I love shoes! I spend about $400 for a great pair, and I think I may need to slow down on the impulse purchases. I have a daughter who's in her second year of high school, and she is planning to go out of state for college. I can afford to purchase the shoes, but I think it would be in my best interest to put some extra money aside for my daughter's education. Do you have any suggestions on how can I curb my shoe purchases? -- A Mom in Need, San Francisco
DEAR MOM IN NEED: The good news is that you see that you have a problem. Loving shoes is one thing. Budgeting for your family's life is quite another. The fact that you allow this impulse buying even as you recognize that the bigger picture calls for you to make other choices says that you need help. Find a meeting of Debtors Anonymous in your town (debtorsanonymous.org). With its (free) support, you can face your financial challenges and develop smarter strategies for how to manage your money.
You may also want to establish a college fund for your daughter where money is taken out of your check before you see it. If it goes directly there, the temptation to spend it will be reduced. A 529 plan is one option: savingforcollege.com/intro_to_529s/what-is-a-529-plan.php.