DEAR ABBY: I know you’re not a beauty consultant, but I’m hoping you can help me. I’m a middle-aged woman with a small income and aging skin. What can a woman who cannot afford cosmetic procedures do about this inevitable problem? My medical insurance will not cover Botox or surgery.

A number of celebrities endorse “anti-aging” products on television. The over-the-counter ones I have tried have not helped. Any suggestions? — FAITHFUL READER, UTICA, N.Y.

DEAR READER: I’ll share some advice my mother — who still has beautiful skin at 91 — shared with me after she noticed the faces of her golfing and sun-worshipping friends were beginning to look like leather: Shun the sun. Dermatologists have also mentioned that nothing ages skin like exposure to sunlight — unless it’s smoking. So when you’re outside, “preserve your assets” by always wearing sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, even if it’s overcast.

Also, because a celebrity has her name on a product is no guarantee that it will work. The best beauty secret I know is a good dermatologist. So save your pennies until you have enough to consult one. Dermatologists offer products that are not sold in stores, and can help you select something that will work for you.

DEAR ABBY: At what age should a child be taught to write thank-you notes for gifts?

I had my children writing thank-you notes as soon as they could write. My sister-in-law still writes thank-you notes or e-mails for her 22-year-old son. Shouldn’t he be doing that for himself at this point? — QUESTIONING AUNTY IN CRANFORD, N.J.

DEAR QUESTIONING: Absolutely. Your nephew should have been taught the art of writing thank-you notes at the same age that your children were. Your sister-in-law has done her son no favors by allowing him to depend on her to do it for him because I’m sure you are not the only person to receive one from her and find it peculiar.

DEAR ABBY: My grandfather left me money from his life insurance policy, but left none to my sister. The money could help me get our family out of debt, purchase a house and pay for my son’s education.

My sister has repeatedly made poor choices and expected others to clean up after her. Word got out that I received the inheritance, and I was told I should give her some. I know in the back of my mind that she’ll do something stupid with it.

Grandpa left me the money — not my sister. Why do I feel so guilty about deciding not to give my sister the money? — MONEY BLUES IN MICHIGAN

DEAR MONEY BLUES: Close your eyes and clear your mind. Ask yourself that question and then speak the first words that pop into your head without censoring and you’ll have your answer.

Who told you you should give your sister some of the money? Your sister? Your mother? Please remember that your grandfather left the money to you — and only you — for a reason. And it may have been that he had already cleaned up a mess or two for your sister in the past.

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

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby — Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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