Dear Abby: My friend doesn’t know his wife is misleading him about money

She’s in charge of using his salary to pay the bills but is borrowing cash on the sly.

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DEAR ABBY: I am friends with “Pete” and “Pam,” a couple I have known for more than 20 years. Pam is keeping secrets from Pete, and, unfortunately, I’m aware of it.

I need a way to address my concerns to Pete. He works full time in a great job, and his salary goes into a joint bank account. Pam handles all the finances and pays the bills — rent, car, etc. When Pete and I hang out and he asks Pam (who has the credit cards) for small amounts of money, she says, “Sorry, we don’t have it.” I understand that might be the case sometimes, but it happens ALL THE TIME.

Pam also secretly borrows cash from me. She pays it back late sometimes, but not always. I talked with Pam and told her to tell Pete she borrows. I don’t think she did, and it concerns me. I’m her enabler but I’m putting my foot down and not doing it anymore.

I’m worried because Pete thinks they have all this money saved for a house. I’m starting to think Pam has spent it, or most of it. How can I tell Pete as a friend to check the finances without starting World War III? I’d hate to lose my friends over this, but I’m afraid the money he is earning is going somewhere else — where, I have no idea. Please help. — IN DANGER OF LOSING FRIENDS

DEAR IN DANGER: Tell Pete everything you have written to me. If he is so financially ignorant that he doesn’t know how to check his balances and his credit rating, he should talk with a CPA for help ascertaining his financial status. Whether Pam has a spending problem or some other type of addiction, he needs to know. He also needs to know how long his dreams of homeownership may need to be postponed if what you are concerned about is true.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 37-year-old woman who has had to move back to my mother’s home after ending a long-term relationship. I love her dearly and appreciate her letting me stay with her until I can get back on my feet. The problem is, I never have any alone time at home or even out when I socialize. She’s close with all my friends and frequently goes to the same bars and restaurants I do.

When I go out on weekends, she invariably asks me where I’m going and then shows up and sits with me and my group. I love her, but I really need some space. I’m single. I want to meet people when I’m out, and I can’t do it with her there. When I try to talk to her about it, she gets upset and thinks I don’t “ever” want her around. That’s not true. I just want my own social life without her ALWAYS being there. Please help. — NEEDING SPACE IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR NEEDING SPACE: It’s time for an adult conversation with Mama. Explain that you enjoy her company but need some time by yourself — whether it’s at home or with your friends. If you don’t want her beside you all the time when you’re home, agree on a place you can retreat to for some solitude — like your bedroom.

When you’re going out with friends, be clear that you want SOME time with them without her being present because it inhibits you. This does not mean she’s not ever welcome, but maybe HALF the time. Encourage her to spend more time with her own friends. If she doesn’t have any, help her to find some. Your problem may be that your mother is simply lonely and starved for company.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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