Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Teen Old Enough to Learn Financial Lessons

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter's godfather has been putting money into a savings account for her for years. Now she is 13, and I would like for her to at least see the account and begin to share responsibility for it, including putting in her own money.

Her godfather has never offered for her to participate. He just tells us each year that he has added $50 or $100 or so. How do I approach him about redefining the relationship to this annual gift? -- Next Steps, Chicago

DEAR NEXT STEPS: It's great that your daughter's godfather has chosen to save money on her behalf. And it absolutely is time to include her in the process.

I think it's as simple as telling him how much you appreciate the annual gift and asking if he could make it more educational for your daughter. Ask him if he would take your daughter to the bank and have a bank officer explain how the savings instrument works that he created for her and how she can contribute to it.

It's likely that he will welcome engaging her in this way. If not, ask why.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My good friend borrowed a sizable amount of money from me last year with the promise to pay me back as soon as she could. A few months later, she told me that she finally had the money. She was apologetic for taking a while to get me the money, but said she had it and asked me how I would like to receive it -- by check, cash, in the mail, in person. I told her that I was busy at the time and would like to meet up with her later and get it from her. She pushed a little bit and suggested that she just mail it to me, but I said that was not necessary and that we should get together.

Now it's three months later. I called her to ask if we could meet up and I could get the money. At first she didn't return my call. A week later she called and apologized, saying she didn't have the money right then. She promised to get it to me the moment she had it again.

I can't believe her. Is this my fault or hers? -- Miffed, Shreveport, La.

DEAR MIFFED: You set yourself up, dear one. Clearly, your friend isn't fully on stable financial footing. She tried to pay you back the moment she had the money. You blew her off. Now I recommend that you wait until she has the money again. She proved to you initially that she intends to repay you.

What you should learn for next time is to take the money when it is offered. She could easily have mailed it, and there would be no issue. Apologize to her for not being responsive initially. Ask her to repay you as soon as she can.