DEAR HARRIETTE: I spent Sunday afternoon talking to a friend who started her life on welfare and who is wealthy now. I was so inspired by her, but I was also sad. I have not saved money well and am essentially broke. I’m in my mid-50s, and I really don’t think that I can get out of this hole. Meeting this friend and hearing about her life made me think there may be a chance that I can turn a corner and not remain impoverished until my dying day. I am so ashamed that I don’t know what to do. Is it too late to talk to a financial adviser about turning my finances around? -- Too Late, Queens, New York
DEAR TOO LATE: It is never too late to make the choice to improve your life, including your finances. You are asking the right questions, too. Since you are not an expert on money, it is essential that you get help. You may want to start with your bank to see what you can do with the money you have. The government also offers free financial advice. In New York, visit www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/consumers/get-free-financial-counseling.page for information. Each state has this service. Don’t give up on yourself. Instead, get educated and empowered. You can improve your circumstances, step by step.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My little brother has it in his head that he wants to be a football star. He has been playing football since he was in first grade. Now he’s in middle school and he’s doing pretty well, but last weekend he got hurt on the field. The coach says he will be fine, but my parents are freaked out because they’ve heard all this stuff about concussions leading to major brain injuries later in life. They are talking about pulling him from football entirely. My brother has asked me to step in and lobby for him. I don’t know what to do. I want my brother to be able to pursue his dream, but I don’t want him to end up brain-dead or something. I never played football when I was a boy, so I’m not attached to it like he is. What should I do? -- Kick It, Silver Spring, Maryland
DEAR KICK IT: I wish I could be more optimistic. Obviously, football is an American pastime that has been played by thousands of children and adults for generations. Recent research, however, suggests that brain injury is common in football players due to the constant contact that includes head trauma.
I am not here to suggest that your brother stop playing. My recommendation is that your family do as much research as you can so that you can make an informed decision about your brother’s future. Your parents may want to get a medical opinion from a doctor who can speak about the long-term effects of playing football on a growing brain. Here’s an article to get you started: theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/10/football-kids-heads/504863/.
Ultimately, this is a personal decision that will be hard to make, no matter what you decide. As his big brother, you can be compassionate and be a great listener as you also express your honest concerns. Leave it to your parents to decide, though.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)