DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently bought a car. For years, I had been taking public transportation everywhere, which can be tough because I live in a suburban area. My car makes it possible for me to get to work and to other activities much faster than before. I am so grateful. My problem is that my neighbors and family members act like the car is theirs as well. They are constantly asking me to give them rides. A couple of them have asked to borrow my car. I don’t feel comfortable with that. If someone has an accident, I have to pay for the insurance. Also, when I do give people a ride, they rarely offer to chip in for gas. They just act like I’m rich or something. I bought this used car with hard-earned money. I don’t appreciate being taken advantage of. How can I handle this? -- Not Your Chauffeur
DEAR NOT YOUR CHAUFFEUR: Set ground rules for your car. Let your loved ones know that when you can, you will help them out, but you need them to chip in for gas. Make it clear that you will not always be available to drive them, and they need to respect that. Do not let others drive your car. Tell them it’s an insurance issue -- which it is, by the way.
(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.)