Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Being Alone at Christmas Doesn't Mean Being Lonely

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister is super generous, so much so that I feel like I need to tell her to slow down. Whenever she crosses paths with a homeless person, she gives them money. During the holiday season, she ramps it up even more and gives more money to individuals she runs into as well as to charity. I know she has a great heart, but I worry about her finances. She has a low-paying job, and she will be retiring soon. I keep telling her she needs to keep some money for herself, but she won’t listen to me. I would never want her to stop being generous, but how can I get her to pay attention to herself, too? Nobody in our family has a lot of money. If she retires without enough to care for herself, I am afraid she might hit hard times. That would be too ironic, given how generous she has been her whole life. -- Taking Care of Sis, Little Rock, Arkansas

DEAR TAKING CARE OF SIS: Your sister has tremendous faith as well as a generous heart. Her faith tells her that she will be OK. Your practical concern about her well-being may be the perfect support to her somewhat blind faith. Ask your sister if she will allow you to review her finances -- for the purpose of helping her plan for retirement. Do not talk directly about her generosity. Focus on her personal finances. Point out that she is always giving to others, and you want to make sure that she gives to herself, too.

Suggest that she get a personal financial adviser who can assist her in reviewing her retirement funds and strategy. Your job is to point her in the right direction.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)