DEAR ABBY: I'm 20 and engaged to a wonderful guy I'll call "Tom." There is only one thing that worries me. Tom's family isn't the best with money, and he doesn't have much money right now. I don't want to be deeply in debt when we're married. How can I work this out with Tom before it gets to be a problem?

- Thinking Ahead in Syracuse

DEAR THINKING AHEAD: You have a keen eye for a serious pitfall ahead. Money problems have wrecked many marriages.

Tell your fiance that before you go further, you two must have premarital counseling. Be sure to tell the counselor about your concerns. A long engagement will not only give you a chance to know each other better, but also give Tom time to reduce or eliminate his debts - so don't rush into anything.

DEAR ABBY: Soon after my parents' wedding, Mom wrote to Dear Abby and asked for your pecan pie recipe. Mom made the pie, and Dad loved it. Several years later, Dad finally got up the nerve to ask Mom why she needed to write to Dear Abby. It took him a while to believe that it had been only for a pie recipe. We still laugh about it.

- Lucky Daughter in Poway, Calif.

DEAR LUCKY DAUGHTER: I can only imagine what your poor father was thinking after the reply to your mother's request arrived.

The recipe is in my cookbooklet set, which can be ordered by sending a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby - Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.*