Dear Blake,

My sister-in-law and her husband become very defensive when my wife or I try to suggest things we believe would benefit them. Not only are they not interested, but they complain that we are trying to run their lives. They tell us they are adults (both are in their mid-30s) and will live their lives the way they want. Both are stuck in low-paying jobs. They frequently ask us and other relatives for money, which we have given as we are able. How can we approach them without becoming the bad guys?

Signed, Vickie
From Kenosha, Wisconsin

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Dear Vickie,

Your sister-in-law’s finances are basically none of your business. However, if they are constantly begging for money, you have the right to suggest anything you want to them, without using a filter. Here are some of my ideas. If they never graduated from high school, tell them that they need to learn how to read, so they can better understand through books and news on how stupid they are. If they graduated high school, suggest that they start taking some college night courses on math, so they can learn how to live within their budget. Or this idea. Tell your sister-in-law that it is important for her younger relatives to interact with her, because she serves as a very important example… not to follow. But I think this last idea is something your relatives she’s sponging off of will embrace. Take her and her husband to a Walmart and tell them to fill the shopping cart. As they began to gleefully enter the store, tell them to turn around, and state that you want them to fill the cart with empty cans that they can collect around town, because you don’t plan to ever give them another penny. And you want the money back that you loaned them in the past…  plus interest. I hope this helps.