Note from the Editor: It is with great regret that we were forced to lay off our 20-plus year advice columnist, Ann O’Grady, last week (sorry again, Annie). To keep operating costs at a minimum, we’ve opened up our advice section to my son and his girlfriend. They will work for free and it counts as an extracurricular at Truman High. So, please welcome juniors Matt Tearson and Rachel Winkle to The Daily Star! Let’s see what sage advice they have for our readers:
Dear Matt and Rachel,
Four months ago, my husband lost his job in Human Resources and our family is now trying to survive on just my monthly income. We are struggling to pay off $19,000 in credit card debt (his) and $29,000 in student loans (mine). We have a variable-rate home loan that will adjust in just under two years. Currently, I still contribute the maximum amount to my IRA. We are debating suspending the IRA contribution until our heads are back above water. The debt has placed a strain on our marriage and we fear for divorce. How will we ever be able to save enough for today, for retirement, for our sons' futures? Where do we begin, and how do we prioritize?
– Alexandra and Arthur M., Buffalo, N.Y.
Art, let me talk to you. I see you guys are contributing the maximum to your IRA while at the same time working with a variable-rate home loan. So I have to ask, what are those? Like, straight up, I have no idea what any of that means.
Instead of being sad about getting fired, just think of it as an opportunity to be awesome again. I got fired from Dairy Queen, but now I work at the Putt-Putt and Driving Range 10 hours a week for $8 an hour and I’m doing just fine – got money in my pocket, a smokin’ girl at my side and a sweet hand-me-down Toyota Camry. Plus, the job is fun as hell. Best advice I’ve ever heard (via Georgie Washington, I think): “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Worry about money later, your sh** will get paid eventually.
Have you thought about asking your parents for some cash flow? Mine are usually good for $20 a pop, and they’re cheap as hell [Ed. Note: Ahem, Matthew…]. I’m sure you could bank at least a little more.
But anyway, you probably need some cheap entertainment ideas since you’re strapped for cash. Two words: Movie theater night. Have your buddies sneak you in and pass you a freebie popcorn and you’re good to go. Or if you don’t want to go out, here’s the easiest solution: go to YouTube, type in “bad weight lifting accidents,” and you’re set for hours.
You mentioned divorce in the letter, which sucks, but what’s the big deal? Rachel and I broke up twice just this past summer (she kept giving Davin Breuer rides to and from his job at Target. Not cool). But look at us now, we’re completely in love and are probably gonna get married at least once. Divorce doesn’t mean it’s “over.” Take a break, man.
Finally, from your letter, you throw around a whole bunch o
f numbers, leading me to believe you’re probably pretty comfortable with math. Do you know any trig? If I sent you just, like, one or two problems, do you think you could kinda do them for me? No pressure, just asking.
But whatever. Rachel’s kind of the brains behind the money in our relationship (For real: every time I’m about to download an app for $.99, she finds a free one just like it and saves me a buck. I literally can’t imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else). Rach, give ‘em the good stuff. Skype me when you’re done.
Alex, I have to say something that you’re not gonna like.
You married a loser.
NO JOB? I mean, come on gurl! How is he going to take you to Olive Garden and get you the unlimited breadsticks without any bread in his pocket? What is Valentine’s Day gonna smell like without a dozen roses from the Stop & Shop? And you can just forget about that laser tag birthday bash. No way.
Have you ever read the Lysistrata? By Aristophanes? The one about the women being mad at the men because of the war so they stop having sex with them? We just read it in English and I was like, “oh yeah those Greek ladies know what is UP!” That very night, Matty wanted to play Grand Theft Auto: Brazilian Favela Beatdown and I wanted to watch Wall-E, but as SOON as I said, “you better sit down if you ever want [Ed. Note: redacted for decency standards] again!” he was suddenly all about the robots! Sex is a weapon. Use it.
Getting down to the financial details of your situation – here’s some career advice. From my own experience I highly recommend babysitting, because it’s an all-cash industry and dads pay more on days you do your hair. $29,000 in student loans goes away pretty fast when you’re making $12/AN HOUR (!) on the weekends. The credit card debt is a different story cause they have interest on them – if you’re anything like me, you just need to lay off the shoes and purses, gurl!
Have you thought about not opening the envelopes? That’s a strategy I use when life stuff gets to be too much – I just throw away the mail and stop answering the house phone for a few months. Eventually, my stepdad just gets sick of the constant ringing and pays the credit card peeps. He said he’s past being mad now and just disappointed, which frankly is SO much easier to deal with.
I just want to say that although you made the bad decision to marry a loser, there’s still hope for your sons. Just show them that you don’t take any of Artie’s “unemployed” whiny bullsh**, and they’ll respect you for being such a strong, independent lady. When Matty lost his Dairy Queen job I definitely [Ed. Note: redacted for decency standards] with Davin Breuer in the back room at Target and Matty got a new job REAL FAST. I would encourage you a look at some of Artie’s friends – for your sons’ sakes.
Do YOU have a question for our high school couple? Send them an email at VOTEMattRachHomecoming2013@gmail.com. Informed advice is just a click and more than thirty years of combined life experience away!
Caitlin Kunkel is a comedy writer who anthropomorphizes in Portland, OR and on Twitter.
Ryan Krebs is a reasonably entertaining comedy writer from Chicago, IL. You can get direct access to his drivel on Twitter.
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