DEAR HARRIETTE: I belong to a social club that has high dues but offers a lot of activities for my family. I have been willing to spend the money because it has been good for the kids, but this year has been tough for me. It seems like the costs have gone up just as my resources have diminished.
I contacted the financial secretary to see if I could get a break just this year because of my financial situation. I was embarrassed to ask, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was granted a payment plan -- not a discount. I appreciate that, but now I wonder if I should stay in the organization. -- Too High a Price
DEAR TOO HIGH A PRICE: You need to weigh the pros and cons. Write down what the benefits of belonging to this organization have been. Look across several years to see how engaged your children have been and how consistent their involvement has been. This is important so that you can see how your money is being utilized. Then consider the other things you do with your children or that you pay for them to do. What do all of these things add up to, and which are most valuable?
Finally, look at your current budget. What can you afford? If you simply can’t swing it, you will need to either resign from the group or ask for a sabbatical for a year. Sometimes organizations will allow you to pause your involvement for extenuating circumstances.
Don’t forget that you can get creative and design activities for and with your kids independent of an organization. And if your children have forged bonds with some of the children in the club, you may be able to include them in your activities anyway. You don’t have to have the formal connection to keep the children together.