Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Use Discretion in Responding to Fundraising Pleas

DEAR HARRIETTE: A lot of people are using websites to raise money for their projects. I've read up about them and see that many are legit. The thing is, I am not a bank. I have a lot of friends in creative fields, and they keep sending me requests. Many of them are from Kickstarter, which I know is good, but still.

At first I was feeling guilty for not giving them money. Now I am beginning to feel annoyed. I want to be a good friend and to support my associates. That support cannot mean that I always have to fork up cash, right? -- Tapped Out, Silver Spring, Md.

DEAR TAPPED OUT: I will say first that I think these financial models for fundraising are brilliant. They definitely have worked for many people who are raising small amounts of cash.

I agree with you that sometimes the requests come in fast and furious. The smallest amount a person can give to these opportunities is low, so recipients may feel some guilt in rejecting them. Of course you can give $5 or $10 or $50, right?

My advice is to give to these fundraising campaigns only if you want to do so. Create your own budget that includes charitable giving and investing. Make decisions about what efforts you want to support based on your interests and your budget. Should you choose not to support an unsolicited cause, you can still send your good wishes -- without the check.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel kind of stupid or cliched, because I want to start an exercise program and get my body together, and I know that everybody says this in January. I feel stupid that I haven't gotten it together before now, but I'm inspired by people like Jennifer Hudson who have lost tons of weight. I figure there's a chance I could lose some, too, with help. How can I get started with something that I will actually do? -- Wanting Fitness, Salt Lake City

DEAR WANTING FITNESS: Congratulations on the desire to be fit. You can get started by visiting your doctor for a complete physical. Make sure your body is healthy enough for exercise, and learn if you have any health concerns.

Next, find a gym that offers classes. Many people who are new to working out get more success when they have help from a teacher and the camaraderie of a classroom setting. You can find a gym of any size, co-ed or single gender, fancy or simple. Find something within your budget that is convenient to your life. Make it easy on yourself, and you stand a better chance of being successful.

You can also consider weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig that help with menu planning and exercise tips. Good luck!