Dear Abby:

My younger brother, who is 53, recently lost his job. His wife has never worked. They have spent their life traveling, driving expensive cars and entertaining lavishly. They never saved a nickel.

I, on the other hand, have always lived frugally. My wife and I put our kids through college, we live in a modest home, drive older cars and have never vacationed outside the United States. We have saved diligently and plan early retirement in a year or two.

My mother and sister think we should help my brother and his wife out by lending them money that we know will never be repaid. My brother has put me down for my thrifty ways, saying I could die tomorrow, then what good would all that money be?

Well, tomorrow is here. My wife and I are prepared for whatever life may deal us in the future. Mom and Sis are angry that we refuse to give money to my brother and his wife. They made their bed -- now they can lie in it.

Abby, please tell me if I'm right.

Able But Unwilling in Alabama

Your philosophy of financial planning has paid off, while your brother is now paying dearly for failing to provide for his future. Far be it from me to raise Cain with you about your decision, but if you felt comfortable, you wouldn't be asking me to endorse it.

Dear Abby:

My husband is a self-employed contractor. We recently had to convert our home office into a bedroom for my son, so our "office" is now in our bedroom until we can add on to the house. My husband has a new client who thinks nothing of calling at 10 p.m. or later, and last night he sent a fax at 11:45! The ringing woke me and it took two hours to get back to sleep.

I want my husband to ask his clients not to call after 9 p.m. He thinks I'm being unreasonable, and he's embarrassed to admit that our office is in our bedroom. I don't think any explanations are necessary.

What do you think? This issue is creating hard feelings.

Sleepless in the Mountains

I have another idea. Most phones and faxes have switches that control the ringer volume. Turn them off when you go to bed, and you should be able to slumber like a baby. If yours do not have volume control, consider investing in ones that do.

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

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate