Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My father is plannig a trip to his home in Poland over the next holiday season, I am excited to see my family , and we will make multiple stops in Poland to visit most of the relatives, I will not have been to Poland in two years and it being the holiday season , will I be expected to have a gift from America for ever family member I see ?
I will visit upwards of 20 family members and I do not want to overpack the suitcases and use all my spending money . Do I have to bring everyone a gift ? Could I buy some of the gifts Poland ?I know it's a while away but I am already worried .
Thrifty Holiday
Dear Thrifty Holiday,
Whether it's holiday time or not, you definitely should come bearing gifts for each family member. Trust that just a small affordable memento from America will be treasured. 
Rather than fretting about the cost of these items, consider some options. First, talk to your father and ask him if you can pool your resources and purchase gifts as a family for everyone . Tell him how much you can comfortably contribute and ask him what he is able to give.
Make a list of all your family members . Think about what they may appreciate . You can select anything from American candy to miniature  likenesses of the Statue of Liberty, Mickey Mouse, or even small souvenir pins of the American flag they can wear on a tie or jacket.  Baseball caps with American team badges are always popular .  Virtually, anything made in America will be appreciated and it does not need to be expensive, just given with love.

Dear Maxy ,
I am not attending my cousin's wedding next September . I will be in school on the west coast and the wedding is in Europe . I am not to bummed about missing it, but I do not know what to say to my cousin when I see him this summer . I wish him the best but I need to learn in college and be frugal during the time that he is planning his special day.
...I Do ...Not
Dear I Do ..Not ,
Start  by wholeheartedly congratulating your cousin on his upcoming wedding . Ask him about his bride and be interested . Make an effort to share his excitement about his upcoming   nuptials .
You have to be up-front about this, and tell  them that you are very disappointed that you won't be able to celebrate the day with them, in person. You can't take time from your studies and your budget is very tight as a student. But you will be thinking of them and will make it up to them another time.
 Make sure you call, text or email them your congratulations on the wedding day.

Dear Maxy ,
My friend "Carrie," recently joined a popular online dating site , after her husband decided he'd rather be single. Carrie met several interesting men on the site and after chatting with them a week or two, every single one of them asked her for money. She refused .
Finally one asked her to cash a check for him . He spent about a month setting her up to be comfortable doing this favor and she fell for it .
He said the bank took her money . The man said he would straighten it out , but of course, he failed to show up .
I want your help in exposing this supposedly reputable online dating site . It's a very bad place for single women to find true love . It is really a site for unscrupulous male thieves to prey on vulnerable woman .
Something needs to be done to put a stop to this abuse and hold these larcenous Lotharios accountable for their misdeeds .
What can we do ?
Angry Ann
Dear Angry Ann,
Your letter is very relevant. And I am going to make a statement about it because online dating scams are rife at this time. Anyone can be targeted. You just have to be looking for love, a search that causes you to be more vulnerable than usual. And love is the tool scammers use to pry open your bank account and strip you of your assets. Even the reputable online dating sites cannot guarantee the honesty of all users.
 By learning how to spot a scammer, you can protect yourself:
1. Note any age difference; Online dating scammers usually target people older than themselves.
2. Look for the following descriptions in their profile:
 *self employed, a professional (for example, an engineer) working overseas
 *a widower with a child (or just widowed)
 *they claim to live near you, in your country, currently away but will be returning soon.
3. Do a photo check. Save a copy of their profile picture. Use Google image search. Check the results. A scammer will steal an image off the internet.
4. Look closely at emails they send you. The scammer will send you an email which is full of inconsistencies, often getting their own name or your name wrong ( since they may be scamming several women at the same time). It will be badly written and repeat itself. Their command of your language deteriorates with time.
Watch for these other signs:
 *They make mistakes, in that their "story" begins to contradict itself here and there.
 *They mix pronouns (he/she, him/her).
5. Talk. Phone conversations can often unravel a fake. When you hear this person on the phone, note whether they have a slight accent and use awkward phrases; if their accent does not match their supposed origin, be suspicious.
If phoning, beware a cell phone number that does not match the area in which they claim to live. This often means that the person is not in the same country at all. Match the cell phone number and the area code with the state or province they claim to live in.
If you spot a number discrepancy, beware excuses. They may tell you they've just moved and didn't bother to change it yet.
6. Be suspicious of rapid escalation. If the person suggests that the communication switch to phone calls and texting asap, be alarmed. Then, if the phone calls and texting rapidly escalate in expressions of love and passion, be very alarmed. Remember, you have never met this person.
7. Watch out for the catch. When they think they have you on their hook, they reel you in. They will say they are on their way to be with you and start a new life together. But then out of the blue they will say they have a financial emergency. They will ask for money to be sent to them immediately to get them out of a fix or to invest in a guaranteed business deal.
Carrie should send all the personal information she has on these men to the managers of the dating website and register a complaint, letting them know that the reputation of their site is at risk and that they need to do a better job of vetting their clientele and keeping  these scams artist out .
The bottom line is 'PROTECT YOURSELF' and under no circumstances trust anyone or give/lend anyone money.

Dear Maxy,
My 85-year-old mother seems to be a loving generous person .But I know her to be extremely self-centered. For example, I don't dare mention that I may be sick or have a problem because she will reply with a long list of her own complaints . Everything she says, every story she tells, is turned to make her look wonderful and important .
We recently had a family gathering and I made a toast to my sister-in-law and our children because they all had made important advancements in their carees and education . Before the toast was over, my mom piped up and said , "What about me"? and she proceeded to ramble on about herself .
I am writing, not to get advice, but rather to give it . I don't care how old you are ; don't hog the spotlight . Listen to your children and grandchildren and be interested in their lives . Because of my mother's narcissism, I have learned to be humble .
Because of my mother's self-centered attitude, I have learned to be more sensitive to others . Because of my mother's constant complaining, I have learned not to talk about my own aches and pains . I am sure that when she is gone, I will miss her. But the best thing she ever did for me was to teach me to be a better mother and grandmother by setting such a bad example for me. 
Thanks Maxy for letting me rant and get this off my chest.
The Good Daughter
Dear Good Daughter,
I am pleased you are not following in your mother's footsteps . If it helped just a little to rant and get it off your chest, my job is done. Not only do I try to answer questions, but I'm also a good
listener .
Note to readers :
When parents get to this age they are needy, both emotionally and physically, and they are usually very lonely, so it is difficult to know where to draw boundaries. When there is diminished mental capacity, it becomes even more stressful. They will prey upon their children emotionally, using guilt and illness.
Like most elderly people, this lady is too old to change. She will continue to complain to the end of her days. All a grown child can do is attempt to not fall victim to the guilt and the stress. And not allow an elderly, toxic relative to destroy their peace of mind or happiness.

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