Dear Annie: Three months ago, I was put in charge of collecting money for a group contribution. I put it in an envelope in my house. I then had to go on a trip. When I returned, I searched high and low for the envelope, and for the life of me, I can’t find it. Some were checks that may expire soon.
I made good on the contribution, so if I find the envelope, I can deposit the cash into my own account as reimbursement. But I don’t know what to do about the checks. Should I call those folks and tell them I misplaced the money and suggest they stop payment, or should I just let them expire? I am really embarrassed about this. — Upset and Frustrated
Dear Frustrated: You must call and inform these people that the checks were misplaced. They can then decide whether they want to stop payment (for which there is generally a bank charge) or simply let the checks expire. They may even choose to reissue them in order to reimburse you (provided they trust that you won’t find and cash the checks). Either way, be sure to apologize for hiding them so well that you can no longer find them. If the checks turn up later, return them to the givers. Those people who have not already done so should then reimburse you, because you covered their costs out of your own pocket.
Dear Annie: In the past five years, my parents, in-laws and an uncle passed away. My uncle lived in the same house for 40 years and kept everything. I took off a lot of time from work to go through his mountains of paperwork and paid a lot of money to have his place cleaned out. I’d like to offer some advice:
If you are over 55 or in poor health, please start decluttering your home now. Even if you are in good health, you could have an accident or suddenly become ill. Start with one hour per week and work on one closet or room. Many charities will pick up your unused, serviceable things. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity desperately need clean, decent furniture and household items.
Trust me, your children don’t want your old knickknacks. Save the family photos, and get your kids and grandkids to come over and pick out a few things they will truly treasure. Make sure you have a will and a list somewhere of life insurance policies, bank accounts and so forth, and give a copy to your lawyer or a trusted relative. If there are family heirlooms, include in your will who gets what.
Stop collecting stuff and collect memories instead. Visit your friends and relatives while you can. Take that special trip you’ve always dreamed of. Don’t leave a mess for those who care about you the most. — No Clutter Nancy
Dear Nancy: Most people find it overwhelming to go through 40 years’ worth of clutter, papers, knickknacks, old clothing and what have you. Your advice to start with one hour in one closet or room is smart, and we hope people (of all ages) will add it to their resolutions for the year. They won’t regret it.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “The Bride,” whose soon-to-be sister-in-law, “Jessie,” sounds like my youngest sister. She has disrupted the lives of her family since she was 12. She caused such a scene at our father’s funeral that she stopped the service. In her early 20s, she was diagnosed as bipolar. She refuses counseling and medication.
I sympathize with Jessie’s family, but if she’s like my sister, her behavior at the wedding will depend on her unpredictable mental state. The best course of action is to exclude her from public events. She won’t be happy about it, but she will never be happy until her disorder is controlled. — Sad but True
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.