Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MONEY MANNERS for the week of Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Q My brother and I inherited our parents' vacation home, and have amicably shared its use and expenses. Unfortunately, my husband and I are having serious financial problems and need to sell. I know my brother loves the house, but I don't think he can afford to buy me out. What should I do?

A Start by talking to your brother. Maybe he can figure out a way to buy you out over time and still meet your cash needs. Talk to a bank to see if you can borrow the money you need against your interest in the home. Finally, see if you can find someone else who'd be interested in buying your share of the house and who would be acceptable to your brother.

If none of these options works, then your brother needs to respect your position and allow the house to be sold. In return, you should pick up the expenses associated with selling it.

And if your brother refuses to sell, a lawyer can tell you how you can force a sale. But we hope it doesn't come to that.

Q My husband and I paid for most of our wedding. When we announced our engagement, his mother offered to contribute $3,500 toward the wedding, which we factored into our budget. Shortly before the event, she sent Joshua a check for $2,000. When he thanked her, he also asked about the remaining $1,500, and she

said not to worry. We've been married two months, and she still hasn't sent the money. We've paid the wedding bills, but things are really tight because we counted on the additional $1,500. I want Joshua to ask his mother for the money, but he thinks we should wait. Who is right?

A All other things being equal, you're right: Joshua should ask mom for the money. You were promised it, made plans accordingly and now need the $1,500 to be made whole.

But all things are never equal in mother-son relationships. Perhaps Joshua knows his mother can't be pushed or he fears a confrontation.

Therefore, we suggest that you wait. Meanwhile, you've learned some important lessons: Never trust your mother-in-law's word again. And never become financially entangled with her in any way. This is not a woman with whom you want to share the dinner tab.

Q I was at the supermarket three years ago and loaned a neighbor $20 because he'd forgotten his wallet. He never repaid me - I think he just forgot - but I still get annoyed every time I run into the guy. I know it's a small amount, but I can't forget about it. What should I do?

A If you can't forget about it, which would be the smart thing to do, your only choice is to spend the rest of your life seething with resentment. Or you can move.

Email your questions about money and relationships to


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