I put myself on “Candy Crush Saga” probation.

The moment of my self-directed timeout from the video game app came when I almost – almost – made an in-app purchase to get more gold bars, lollipops, bombs and jellyfish to help me finally conquer a level that had been vexing me for so long.

The recurring appearance on my cellphone screen of “You did not clear all the jelly” was getting on my nerves. And for just $5.99, I could buy a “Mega Candy Starter Pack.” The red-tag sale sign suggested it was a bargain. Just one more life or lollipop and I would win, I reasoned.

That’s how the addiction begins.

So when I received a question from a similarly obsessed reader during a recent live online discussion, I understood how one could be pushed to purchase something so frivolous.

As I often do, I’ll address some leftover questions from readers in my chat forum, starting with the person addicted to making virtual candy combinations.

“Michelle, I’m not punking you, honest,” the reader wrote. “But I read your columns and chats faithfully and thought I should ask you for help. I’m addicted to ‘Candy Crush.’ But more importantly, I’ve probably spent close to $1,000 over the last two years buying extra crap you need to win the games. I put the charges on my credit cards. When I stop and think about what I could have done with that money instead, I get so mad at myself. What do you think? I hope I’m not the only one who is like this.”

You are not alone.

Kanye West recently went on a Twitter rant about how his daughter was making too many in-app purchases. In a 2012 survey on mobile gaming, marketing-research company NPD Group found that close to 30 percent of players had made in-app purchases or had upgraded from a free version to the paid one. By 2014, the number of gamers who had made an in-game purchase more than doubled, according to a follow-up survey by the company.

My advice is to stop playing. Give yourself a break to get some perspective. Certainly making modest-sum in-app purchases isn’t going to break the bank, but spending $1,000 you don’t have is a red flag. And if the thought of not playing “Candy Crush” makes you agitated, it’s also a sign that you need to see a counselor to deal with whatever it is that’s making you lose control.

Another reader had a pressing question about the cost of long-term care: “My mother is living independently but is getting increasingly frail. In my search to start to address the situation, I’m running up against the cost factor. It seems that increasingly, elder care is for the wealthy. I’m not broke, and my mother’s pension and Social Security aren’t awful, but I can’t quit my job and we don’t have six figures sitting around. Do you have any resources for me?”

The soaring cost of caring for an elderly person is, unfortunately, a concern shared by many. But you are doing the right thing starting to plan now before the need is great. Depending on the age of your mother, a long-term care policy might be cost prohibitive, but check anyway. Go to the website for the National Council on Aging: ncoa.org. Also visit AARP’s, which has a caregiving resource section: aarp.org/home-family/caregiving.

This last question is one I get from readers all the time: “I have an old Honda Accord and the transmission is slowly going bad. I do not want to purchase another car. At what point do I say, ‘I’m tired of paying these repair bills’? Several thousand dollars to replace the transmission is doable, but at the same time, that’s money I could use for two or three plane tickets to visit friends and relatives overseas.”

The thing you don’t want to do is rush to buy a car before considering all your options. Edmunds.com has a great rundown on the pros and cons of fixing or ditching your hoopty (www.edmunds.com/car-care/fix-up-or-trade-up.html). Edmunds suggests a quick rule of thumb: “If the cost of repairs is greater than either the value of the vehicle or one year’s worth of monthly payments, it’s time for another vehicle.”

My rule for replacing clunker is this: If the car is unsafe and I’m being repeatedly stranded with unexpected breakdowns, it’s time to let it go.

Michelle Singletary can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: SingletaryM