We made it through another rough year. Congratulations. It was not easy.
Some Americans were stuck at home with partners and family, counting their steps on iPhones AAPL, -0.43%, and wondering whatever happened to those online yoga and fitness classes. While others were alone, worrying about their next paycheck.
This column reflected those struggles: Inflation, rising house prices, uncertainty surrounding a highly volatile stock market, politically polarized families, credit-card bills, and a rather privileged question about a $30,000 bracelet.
The variety of subjects begs the question: Is the Moneyist a financial column about relationships — or a relationship column about money? Judging by the most popular letters of 2021, an argument could be made that it’s both.
“Is the Moneyist a financial column about relationships — or a relationship column about money?”
In 2020, there were hundreds of questions about stimulus checks. In 2021, during the second year of the pandemic, people expressed “compassion fatigue” and vented their frustration about vaccination requirements.
One man wrote of his parents: “They refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Even losing our uncle to COVID has done nothing to convince them. They’ve even said they’d rather quit their jobs and lose everything than get vaccinated!”
But the most popular letters of the year were “traditional” moral dilemmas involving sharing household bills, the perils of inheritance when a stepparent is involved, and how much money you should leave estranged children.
Here are the 10 most popular letters of 2021:
- My wife inherited $800K. She put $300K toward our mortgage and $500K in her own bank account — after 35 years of marriage
- My bank accidentally deposited $10K in my account. I reported it, then moved it to my savings account. Have I done enough?
- I won over $55 million in the California lottery, but didn’t tell my friends or family. Did I do the right thing?
- My wife makes $200K a year, but gives us $700 a month, and $3,000 to her brother and mother ‘to keep them in the good life’
- ‘I’m a man of simple pleasures’: I live with my girlfriend, 59, who owns several homes and has saved $3 million. I pay utilities, and do repairs. Is that enough?
- My daughter no longer speaks to me or my husband, and mocked our family values. Do we cut her out of her $2 million inheritance?
- My husband and I bought our late neighbor’s foreclosed home. My stepdaughter moved in — then the problems began
- My ex-wife passed away. I’m the beneficiary on her life insurance. Her family wants me to pay her funeral expenses and won’t leave me alone
- My father desperately begged me, ‘Son, get a lawyer. That woman is going to take away your inheritance!’ My stepmother kept $1 million after he died
- My girlfriend cosigned my mortgage. I paid the mortgage for 4 years, plus a $125,000 down payment. She paid the utilities. Now she wants half
Thank you for coming along for the journey, and for weighing in on readers’ personal troubles and financial dilemmas. And, yes, sometimes being heard is all people need. Have a safe and happy New Year.
Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.
The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.
More from Quentin Fottrell:
• ‘Our friends always yearned for a relationship like ours’: My husband of 16 years left me for another man. I don’t want them to live in our properties. What can I do?
• ‘She trusts me completely’: My sister offered to pay off my credit-card bill. I’ll repay her over the next 4 years. Am I taking advantage of our relationship?
• ‘He is the most computer-illiterate person I know’: I was my husband’s research analyst, caregiver, cook and housekeeper. Now he wants a divorce after 38 years.