Dear Amy: I have a 30-year-old niece. She has an 8-year-old son. I love them both.
She has done a wonderful job raising her son alone, (her fiance died when she was pregnant).
I decided I would like to start a savings account for my niece’s son so that he can have a start in life after he graduates and (if and when) he continues on to college.
I asked my niece for his Social Security number to start the account, but she did not want to give it me, so she opened the account in her name.
I’ve been putting in money every month for this child for the last year and have been getting the receipt from the bank, noting my deposit and the account balance.
When I recently made a deposit, I was very disappointed to find out that the mother took out everything except for $50.
That night she and her son came over. I mentioned that I noticed most of the money was gone. I asked her what she and her son were using it for. She asked me how I knew, and I told her that whenever I make a deposit, I’m notified of the balance.
How should I proceed from here? I want to continue to support my great-nephew, but I personally need to know the money is in the account.
— Aunt in Nebraska
Dear Aunt: Your niece knowingly took money designated for her son. Let that sink in.
You both seem naive about money — she obviously believed that she could take money without you realizing it, and you believed that you could put money into an account which she would have ready access to, and it would stay there for the next 10 years or so.
Does she need money now to help support her son? Would you like to contribute to this family’s support now, versus saving for later? That’s something for you to decide.
If you want to designate savings for your great-nephew, the least-complicated way to do this would be to set up an account linked to your own, with automatic monthly deposits going from your primary account into the extra account. You would have total control over the account, and it would be in your name. You could turn the money over to your great-nephew whenever you choose, or designate this amount to go to him in your will. Do some research about this, and talk to your local banker. His mom cannot handle the temptation, and so you should leave her out of the equation.
Dear Amy: What do you think about a high-level (female) attorney going barefoot at a work function?
This included her time at the podium greeting us as a group and telling us (her employees, essentially) how much our work, including our professionalism, is appreciated.
I would be interested in your thoughts. I am very confused about what is happening here.
Dear Confused: If this professional function was held outdoors, I could almost see this barefoot thing as being part of the vibe, even though I (personally) have an aversion to looking at feet — even my own. This is amplified when I see people barefoot at public or crowded indoor spaces (unless it is in a meditation or yoga session).
At the very least, this attorney could have worked her shoelessness into her talk. Something about trust, vulnerability, or the freedom of being authentically yourself, regardless of where you are.
This is so unusual that if there was a Q&A after her talk, you would have been justified in asking, “Would you mind telling us why you aren’t wearing shoes?”
Readers will surely want to weigh in with their own theories and responses.
Dear Amy: “Living in the Future” lived in a “smart home,” with lots of monitoring technology. Her husband was able to control the lights, electricity usage, and monitor the entrances remotely, which, according to the letter, he did, while he was at work. She works at home, and he admonished her for running the dryer at the “wrong” time of day — and then shut it off remotely!
You took the opportunity to opine about the serious loss of privacy and assert this woman’s right to make choices in her home while she was in it, but you did not address the alarming amount of control this husband was exerting over her.
People can use technology to stalk and intimidate. That’s exactly what this guy was doing.
Dear Concerned: I completely agree. Thank you.