DEAR HARRIETTE: When I travel on business, it is often with another colleague. We typically eat our meals together in between meetings, but we have to file separate expense reports. In the interest of time, I often buy my colleague a coffee or other breakfast items. I used to include these things on my expense report, but the accounting office is getting stricter. I told my colleague that now he has to pay for his own coffee and even gave him the receipt for one that I picked up for him. He did not reimburse me. I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but I also do not intend to pay for his food. How can I get him to understand that he has to cover his own expenses? -- No More Coffee
DEAR NO MORE COFFEE: This one is easy, even if it may feel awkward. Stop buying your colleague coffee, snacks or whatever else you used to purchase. You set the tone for this, by the way, by making these purchases and expensing them yourself. He probably isn’t fully aware of the impact of him not picking up his own tab. Nonetheless, if you stop buying his food items, he won’t have them anymore, and it will be jarring. Tell him that you will pick them up if he gives you the money in advance. Otherwise, he has to make the purchases himself. Company rules.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was feeling really down the other day, and I told one of my good friends that I sometimes think I am worth more dead than alive. I said it because I bought a sizable insurance policy after my daughter was born. I don’t mean to sound morbid, but when I am struggling to pay for food and worried sick about everything, I remember that my daughter gets $1 million when I’m gone. That said, I’m not thinking about offing myself. I guess I hold onto that fact in case I never get my finances together. Anyway, my friend now calls me every week worried I’m going to do something rash. I am not. How can I calm her down? -- Not Suicidal
DEAR NOT SUICIDAL: You may not consider yourself suicidal, but you are not in a healthy frame of mind. Your friend, who cares about you, is right to check in to make sure that you are not teetering on the edge of taking your life. The dangle of the $1 million for your daughter is a hefty lure that could become more attractive if your circumstances grow direr.
What you may want to do is see a counselor. In the best of worlds, it would be good to see a psychologist and a money manager. With support from professionals, you may be able to climb out of your crisis and be able to see the world from a more positive perspective. For now, thank your friend for checking in. It is a kind and helpful thing for her to do. Hopefully it gives you the knowledge that you are loved no matter what your circumstances.
(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.)