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Skip home shopping parties

Q.  When both my husband and I were working I was able to spend money without thinking too much about it, but now that he's lost his job, things have changed. Two of my friends whose incomes have not changed are holding a "home fashion party." They do it every year. A clothing manufacturer comes to the house and puts on a show, then takes orders for the items while the hostesses serve coffee and cake. It's a way for them to make money, or get free clothes, and the rest of us pay more than I think the items are worth. Am I obligated to take part in this now that it's so difficult because I always have? If not, how do I say "no" without hurting their feelings.

Ans. Their feelings are not your concern. Tell the truth. Explain that you now must limit your spending-and even if they don't expect you to buy anything, you won't feel comfortable with a group that is. Suggest you all get together for coffee another time.

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