Ask Amy: Niece’s proposed visit includes big sticker shock

Dear Amy: My adult niece lives several hundred miles away, and said she wanted to come visit us in Florida with her husband and their new baby.

Since they both work, the visit would be only for three or four days.

I said of course, and we tossed dates around.

I gave them some recommendations of beachfront hotels within walking distance from our condo, since it’s not large enough to absorb two additional adults and a baby. I said I could “help” with their hotel costs. I plan on picking up the tab for meals when we are together.

A few weeks ago, she let me know that they did not select one of the hotels within walking distance to our condo, but rather they booked themselves in a resort-style hotel, 10 miles away.

This will mean more shuffling around, as everything will be done by car.

She then said that she didn’t want me to get “sticker shock,” but I should know the hotel bill would be $1,700.

I had been thinking perhaps I could contribute $500 to their housing costs, which would have come close to covering their entire stay for a few nights in a local hotel.

They are in their early 40s and both work.

I want to be gracious and I’m happy they are making the effort to visit. But I was shocked to learn that my offer to “help” was translated to picking up a large hotel bill.

I doubt I’ve ever paid that much for myself in a hotel.

If I’d known I would have to pick up the tab, I probably would have suggested another time of year when prices are not at seasonal highs.

This has left me feeling a bit taken advantage of.

Do you have any suggestions for how I might enjoy their visit without being resentful?

— Conflicted

Dear Conflicted: Your niece has handed you an opening, as well as the language to use when responding.

And so you can say, “Yes — haha — I do have sticker shock, and thank you for understanding that cost would be an issue for us. We can afford to contribute $500 toward your stay, and would be happy to do that. Other hotels along the beach are much more affordable, but I’ll leave it up to you to make your decision. Looking forward to seeing you!”

Dear Amy: I have a 13-year-old daughter. She is a good kid, has nice friends, does pretty well in school and participates in theater.

She’s also headed into those tougher teen years. She’s moody, but doesn’t seem depressed. Doesn’t seem to love hanging out with family the way she used to.

But I remember some of this stuff from my own teen years.

Anyway, she just told me that she wants to shave her head.

(She has really lovely hair, by the way.)

I’m not sure how to react to this, and I’m wondering what you think?

— Confused Mom

Dear Confused: Hair is one of the few renewable resources we humans possess.

My point is that monkeying with hair is one of the lower-impact choices a teen can make.

Shaving her head seems a radical choice, but it is a healthier one (in my opinion) than wanting extensions, for instance. You should ask her why she wants to do this, not freak out about it, and make sure that if she decides to do it, she considers the opportunity to donate her hair to Locks of Love, Wigs for Kids, or another charitable organization.

Dear Amy: I am a financial adviser and have been for the last 20 years.

I disagree with your advice to “Doting Dad” regarding financial disclosure and sharing their will with their adult children.

Given that the kids and spouses are all deemed trustworthy and honest I would say it is better to give them some detail.

They don’t need account numbers but knowing that Dad has an IRA at XXX worth XXX is good info for them.

If something happens to Mom and Dad it is better to have a running start on these things. Discussing what type of accounts there are and what they are invested in early is very helpful.

There have been a few times in my career where the kids have no idea what is where and it is a mess to sort out.

— Anonymous Adviser

Dear Adviser: You and I agree that these parents should disclose “some detail” about their estates. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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