Ask Amy: Friend talks about money but claims to be poor

Dear Amy: I am a retired professional. My husband still works. We have no investments and no inheritances, but we get by.

I rarely mention money. I love to go to restaurants, shows and concerts, tip well, and am generous with what I have.

I have a friend who is quite the opposite. She does not dine out or go to shows or concerts, and both she and her husband retired a few years ago with generous pensions and health insurance.

Her parents passed away, leaving her a large (by her description) inheritance. For a while, she talked about all the things she was looking forward to spending it on.

She hasn’t done any of those things, and her house is falling apart. She constantly complains about not having “funds.” Today we were in a neighbor’s backyard, and she said she wished she had money for plants. Amy, this is ridiculous. I know her well, and she has no expenses and doesn’t spend a dime.

Can you explain why people act this way? I know she isn’t the only one. I never respond to her remarks — I just change the subject.

I don’t know what to say to her, and I am reaching the point where I can’t stand it anymore.

Amy says: It sounds as if your knowledge of your friend’s financial situation has come, mainly, from her self-reporting. Because of this, it seems natural that, rather than change the subject, you could ask your friend, one time, “I thought that you and your husband were doing well financially. What happened?”

Your friend and/or her husband could be out of funds because they fell for a scam, invested badly, gave money to their kids, engaged in online gambling, donated their money — or for any number of other reasons. Your friend’s husband might be controlling her by denying her access to their money. Or she and/or her husband might have a hoarding disorder, which causes them to actually hoard their money, “saving” it to their own detriment.

You’ve heard of people hoarding possessions to the point where it poses a risk to their own health and safety. The same disorder leads some people to hoard money. If you know these people very well and their living situation is deteriorating to a dangerous extent, you could consider sharing your concern with their children.

Your friend seems unable to enjoy life. Rather than judge her harshly, you might respond with patience and compassion.

Confused about bi

Dear Amy: I consider myself a liberal thinker and have several friends and close family members who identify LGBQ. But I just don’t get the bisexual label if one is not sexually active (nor looking to be). Over the past several years, at least three acquaintances have “come out” as bisexual. All three are in long-term marriages to people of the opposite sex.

While one can never know what goes on “behind closed doors,” it is doubtful that any of these marriages are “open.”

One of the professed bisexuals is an ordained minister, another is married to an ordained minister. So the idea of these individuals having freewheeling sex lives seems remote.

What does it mean for someone to be bisexual and not express that in a physical way? How is it important to announce that truth about themselves if they are not looking for a relationship? What about being bisexual are they “claiming,” if it isn’t about sex?

Amy says: Some people might be inspired to proclaim their own bisexuality out of solidarity to people who are less safe and secure than they are.

This would be a powerful statement from some in the clergy community, if they belong to a faith practice that openly discriminates against LGBTQ people.

But because you are curious about a public proclamation, you should feel free to ask.

Send Ask Amy questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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