Dear Abby: Covert use of speakerphone makes caller want to clam up

When I call my brother or sister, I expect my call to be private, just between the two of us.

Dear Abby: When I call my brother or sister, I expect my call to be private, just between the two of us. However, halfway through the call, other people in the household join the conversation or I’ll hear pots and pans rattling. I consider this to be very rude.

I realize in this era of technology a speakerphone is a convenience, but I feel the caller should be told upfront that he or she is on speakerphone rather than realize during the call that others have been listening. Am I overly sensitive, or do you think the caller should be told they’re on speaker and who will be listening in? Just a little privacy, please?


In South Carolina

Dear Kathy: You are not overly sensitive. However, because you know your siblings are in the habit of doing this, you should ask at the beginning of the phone call if you are being put on speaker. If the answer is yes, you can then suggest the person call you back when you can talk privately.

Dear Abby: I retired two years ago at 71. Prior to retirement, I gave money to family members from every paycheck. I didn’t save a dime.

I am now losing my home and in worse shape than they were when I gave them my money. I learned my lesson too late. Perhaps my predicament will help others.

Since retirement, I have had two surgeries with minimal help from anyone I helped. Doctor bills are piling up. If I had just saved as much as I gave away, I’d have enough to save my home. Take care of yourself first.

Money Matters

Dear Monday Matters: I am sorry your generosity has landed you in so much trouble. I am printing your letter because it proves the truth of the adage “charity begins at home.” Everyone should begin putting aside money toward retirement as soon as they get their first job, and continue for as long as they are working. Whatever monies are left after paying expenses and saving for retirement are considered discretionary, to be spent as the saver wishes.

Dear Abby: My son has an older neighbor who often looks after his daughter, who is 8 months old. This neighbor has no children or grandchildren of her own. She buys my granddaughter clothes, shoes, toys and, most recently, a high chair.

The problem is, she keeps all of these things at her house and doesn’t share these gifts with my son and his wife. They don’t have a lot of clothes for the baby or a high chair. Do you think this is appropriate, or am I out of line to think it isn’t?


In Kentucky

Dear Unsure: If someone buys clothes and shoes for a toddler, common sense dictates they should be kept where the child is dressed in the morning — presumably at home. (A supply of diapers and wipes should be on hand wherever the little one is.) However, because lugging a high chair and toys back and forth could create a problem, I see no reason why they shouldn’t remain at the caregiver’s house.

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