Dear Amy: My 18-year-old granddaughter is going to live with us after her high school graduation.
She is coming to stay with us to work for a year and establish residency in our state, which is awash in good quality public universities.
We are excited to have her come live with us. I want the experience to be positive, but I know clear expectations are important.
She has spent time with us each summer, so we know each other fairly well.
My husband and I drew up a list of things that we expected from her: Getting a job, taking care of her bedroom and bathroom, learning to drive and to use public transportation, no male overnight guests, house sit when we take short trips — things like that.
We do not expect her to pay rent; we are doing this because college is insanely expensive, and we want to help.
What are some pitfalls we should be aware of? Is there an important point we are missing?
We really want this to work out!
— Helpful Grammy
Dear Grammy: I lived with family members during my first year of college, and I will always look back on that time with extreme gratitude. I also wonder if I did enough while I was with them to ease their burden for housing, feeding, and basically taking such good care of me.
All of your expectations are reasonable, but I suggest that you take them in reasonable stages. Focus on the transportation issue first, because that will enable her to get herself back and forth to work.
After she moves in, negotiate a reasonable nighttime curfew, and emphasize that she should contact you if she is running late (this is an extremely important safety issue for a new commuter who might be working shifts).
Communicating about these practical matters is vital; and you and she should also have regular "family meetings" where you can all bring up matters relating to the household.
Don't hover over her too closely, and understand that she (and you) will occasionally fail.
Don't only raise those issues where there is room for improvement, but also acknowledge the important transition she is making.
Dear Amy: My husband and I are 49 and 50 years old. The past 18-month period has been psychologically, physically and especially financially hard on us.
My husband got injured at work, and I lost my job. We decided to cash in our 401(k) plans and consider being retired.
We have two grown sons (late 20s) who are both married. One of them is the father of my granddaughter.
Both men aren't well off but they both are doing OK for their little families.
My husband and I decided to give each son and their wives a generous cash Christmas present this year. It was no big deal. We had it and shared it.
However, during my Christmas get-together with the five of them, all we heard was what they got for their wives' parents: new TVs and dining room sets.
We didn't even get a Christmas card. We do more for our sons then either one of their in-laws do. My husband and I can't help but feel slighted.
Should I let them know that they hurt our feelings, or should we just let it go?
— Feeling Slighted
Dear Slighted: My main reaction is to your choice to cash in your savings and "retire" at the age of 50. By cashing out early, you've already lost a percentage of your savings through a penalty.
You and your husband are at least 12 years away from the possibility of receiving Social Security. Even if he is receiving disability compensation, this is an extremely short-sighted choice to make.
My second reaction is to your choice to give a portion of this money away to people who don't need it or — it seems — want it.
I hope you will reflect on your own situation and make sounder financial choices. And yes — you should let your sons know exactly how wounded you feel.
Dear Amy: Like you, I, too, was a waitress.
I will happily leave 20% or more to a server who is pleasant and attentive. However, a server who slams a dish down on the table and never even makes eye contact during the whole meal will be lucky to even get 15%.
The original meaning of "tip" was "To Insure Promptness." Times have changed.
— NC Appreciative Reader
Dear Reader: Thank you for the reminder of what a "tip" is supposed to reward.