Dear Miriam,

My husband is a bit of a home bird, so when it comes to heading off somewhere for a day, I have a good neighbour who is usually game to join me. We might head up to Cork shopping, or to a concert, or just on a bit of a road trip, if the weather is nice. She is not a very confident driver, whereas it doesn’t bother me, so I’m always at the wheel. That’s fine by me: I’m just happy to have the bit of company.

My issue is this. As the designated driver, I have always paid for the petrol, parking, those sorts of costs. It was no issue before as I was working part-time, so I had my own income. However, I have recently retired, so I have to watch the pennies now.

I would never have asked my friend for a contribution before, but now I feel that I might have to, especially with the cost of fuel etc. She does not work, but herself and her husband would be well off.

How should I go about it? It feels a bit awkward.

Kerry reader

Dear Kerry reader,

Thanks for your email. When I first read it, my initial response was, “Of course, it’s entirely reasonable to ask your friend to contribute towards the cost of the day out! Why not?”

On reflection, though, I would just like to ask who is the main instigator of these road trips? For example, are they almost always at your suggestion? If that is the case, is your friend actually doing you a favour by coming along for the company? Would you be happy to go solo without her, if that was the only other option? Or would she be equally enthusiastic about suggesting days out? If it’s the latter, it’s possibly an easier topic to broach; but that does not mean a conversation is off the table either.

Like most things in life, it comes down to communication. Obviously, things have changed for you financially since retirement and you have to look at your spending. Could you explain to your friend that you love your days out together, but this summer, you will have to cut back on some of the trips due to the cost of petrol, etc? That might be enough to prompt her to offer a contribution. If she does not make that suggestion herself, you could ask how she might feel about dividing the petrol or parking costs.

However, I think you should also make it clear that she should never feel under pressure to come along on a day out unless it’s something she really wants to do herself.

Could you explain to your friend that you love your days out together, but this summer, you will have to cut back on some of the trips due to the cost of petrol, etc?

You mention that you have retired. I’m not sure if this means that you have reached the age where you can avail of free transport, but it might also be an option to leave the car at home.

I hope this is of some help and that you and your friend have a summer full of fun and adventure together, whatever resolution you reach.

Readers writes

Dear Miriam,

Having just read the letter, “Is it silly to be upset by death of my dog?” (published 4 May edition), I felt so sad for that man and his wife. As any pet lover knows, losing a cherished pet is losing a beloved member of your family. It is normal and natural to grieve such a loss.

Dogs give so much and look for so little in return. In fact, this has been highlighted in two excellent articles in that very edition where two young boys are supported by their dogs.

John and his wife are obviously good and kind people. How we treat our pets is a reflection on what type of person we are. I have no doubt that when the time is right, some very lucky dog will find its home with this couple.


A dog lover

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