Dear Dr. Wallace:

My best friend at work just asked to borrow some money from me; she says she needs it to pay her bills because she got behind on them.

My friend asked me for $1,000. I’ve never loaned anybody any money and I’ve certainly never been asked to loan anybody a large amount of money, so I’m worried because I’m so inexperienced at this. Should I loan my best friend the money she asked for? And if I do, should I make her sign a contract? Do I need an attorney to write up such a contract? I feel worried and confused.

— Not Sure About Loaning Money, via email

Dear Not Sure About Loaning Money: This is a tricky question, because you are no doubt invested in your relationship with your best friend.

Can you afford to give that sum of money to your friend? If you truly need it to pay your own bills, then you should not put your own finances at risk.

However, if you can afford to make this loan to her, I do not suggest using an attorney. It would cost you money to have a contract written up, and it would also imply to your friend that you don’t trust her.

Only you know how trustworthy she is, and you might also know a bit about her spending habits and why she is in this current financial position.

If you do make this loan, please realize that it might not ever be paid back at all or might never be paid back in full. You’ll also have added a new dynamic to your friendship that you should consider.

If you do make the loan, and if she does eventually pay you back in full, then you’ll both have benefited. She’ll get the bridge financing she needs and you’ll no doubt get many thanks for your friendship and assistance in her time of need.

If you do make her a loan, don’t charge her even a penny of interest!

Dear Dr. Wallace: I share a room with my younger brother, and we each get one bed and one side of the room to use as our own personal areas. He’s 12 and I’m 14. He’s a pretty good brother; he does not cause any trouble for me at all and in fact, he’s reliable if I need a favor from time to time.

My problem is that my side of the room is a mess, and his side of the room is neat and tidy. I’m not sure how I got this way, but I often notice how my parents’ room is sloppy, too — in fact, it looks just like mine! How can I be neater? I don’t even know where to start.

— A Sloppy Older Brother, via email

Dear A Sloppy Older Brother: The answer to your concerns lies right within your bedroom.

Don’t ask your parents for any help or advice, as the easiest way to get the solution to your question is to ask your younger brother! He obviously has a system that works for him, so simply ask him politely to show you his methods and secrets.

Most sloppy people know they’re sloppy. I think it’s great that you wish to improve yourself in this area.

I trust your nice younger brother will indeed help you out, but just in case you still need pointers, I’ll provide you with some.

First, since you want to address your problem the right way, begin small. Put a thing or two away every time you enter or leave your bedroom. Pick up after yourself and be sure to immediately get into the habit of throwing all trash in a trash can. This means wrappers, paper plates, napkins, crumbs, paper cups or anything else that needs to eventually be put in the family trash can at the curb each week. Do not allow any of these items to accumulate in your space.

Second, take control of your dirty clothes. Be sure to put them in a laundry basket right away so they won’t become an eyesore in your room.

Finally, make your bed each day — and do this immediately when you get out of bed! It only takes a minute, and you can stretch a bit as you do this, which will help you to wake up fully.

With a made bed to look at right off the top of the morning, you’ll find yourself feeling better and much more confident that you are in control of your personal space. You’ll be proud and peaceful as you go through your day from there.

— Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.

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