DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend invited me to go on vacation with her and her family this summer -- free of charge. She knows that my funds are limited and that I could never pay for this trip myself. I think it's really nice that she would make such a generous invitation, but I feel weird about it. I will hardly have money even for incidentals during the trip. It feels weird to be a freeloader, even if it is my friend. Her parents are cool about it. I know they have taken friends on trips with them before, like when we were in college, but we've been out of school for two years now. They are not showy people, so I don't think they will try to make me feel bad. They love me. We have been friends for 10 years. What do you think I should do? -- Broke Guest, Syracuse, N.Y.
DEAR BROKE GUEST: Given the way that you describe your friend and her parents, it seems that they genuinely want to include you in their family vacation. Indeed, it sounds like they are including you as a family member. In order for you to say yes, though, you have to make peace with the idea.
Speak to your friend and thank her for the invitation. Be clear about how happy you are that they are being so generous. Admit to her that you will likely not have much spending money because your finances are very tight right now. You need to be direct about your financial situation so that you don't run into hiccups along the way.
Go if you believe you can accept their generosity and have a great time.