DEAR HARRIETTE: I tried to give my niece money for her birthday, but she doesn’t have a bank account. She is 13 years old. I was shocked. I want to start an account for her, but I don’t want to offend her parents. I think she needs to learn about money and how to grow it. How can I make this recommendation without hurting my sister’s feelings? -- Open an Account
DEAR OPEN AN ACCOUNT: Out of respect for your sister, you can tell her that you want to give your niece the gift of a bank account. You can ask for her blessing in setting it up.
If you believe that your sister will not like it, you can still open an account and put money in it for your niece. You can open a 529 account, which allows you to save money for college tax-free. You can let your niece know about it or have it as a secret until she gets ready to go to college. Or you can take her on a date and set up a savings account with her and encourage her to add money to it.
Obviously it would be ideal for your sister to support the experience, but if your gut says that she will be skittish, your niece still deserves to learn about money and have her own. Because she is a minor, your name will have to be on the account as well.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter has been badgering me about getting her a dog for years. I have always said no, including now -- for two reasons. First, I have no time or inclination to take care of a dog, and no matter what she says, even at age 16, she will not accept responsibility for walking, feeding, bathing and entertaining a dog. Second, I’m allergic to dogs, even hypoallergenic ones.
She met a teacup dog, a tiny dog that can fit in a purse, and has started up all over again. I don’t want to deny her something she really wants, but I can’t do it. How can I make that clear to her without being mean? -- No Dog House
DEAR NO DOG HOUSE: If you are clear that you will not be welcoming a dog into your home, don’t waver. Tell your daughter that a dog isn’t happening. But tell her that when she has her own house, she can do whatever she wants, including having a dog. Let your daughter know that this is not a punishment. More, you know what you can handle. She will need to figure that out for herself when she has a dog. Talk to her about what the responsibilities are so that she knows what she’s getting into. Don’t tell her as if she wouldn’t fulfill them; just remind her so that she has a clear understanding of her job when she becomes a pet owner.
If she is desperate to be around dogs, she might consider volunteering at the humane society or getting a job at a pet store.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)