DEAR HARRIETTE: I am drowning in debt. It has gotten to the point where I don't know what to do. I got laid off last year. I have been able to work part-time jobs here and there, but it's not enough money to even pay for my rent and food. Never mind that I have all kinds of debt I took on by using credit cards too much in order to survive.
It's horrible. I have no idea what to do. I cannot pay right now. I feel like hiding. But that's ridiculous. -- Ready to Hide, Washington, D.C.
DEAR READY TO HIDE: Resist the temptation to go underground. I promise that will not work. Instead, be proactive. Contact all of your creditors and tell them your story. Trust that they want to recoup as much of what they are owed as possible. Ask if you can get a reduction of your debt and establish a payment plan that will allow you to pay small amounts while you are working to get on your feet.
Depending on your financial circumstances, you may qualify for public assistance. While it may be difficult for you to consider getting help from the government, I hope you will see that a little help can go a long way as you work to get on your feet. To find out your eligibility, go to www.tanf-benefits.com.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was at my friend’s house the other day and saw a medication he was taking that is used for a venereal disease. I was shocked. Then again, I don’t know anything about his sex life. What I do know is that he recently started dating a girl and is super-excited about her. I have a feeling he is going to have sex with her soon. I like this girl he's dating and know her a little bit. I wonder if I should talk to her about what I found or tell the guy to take it slowly? I would hate to be the person who knows a terrible fact but didn’t do anything about it. How should I proceed? -- In Doubt, New Orleans
DEAR IN DOUBT: Your friend’s sex life is not your business. That you saw medication does not confirm his health status. It is best for you to mind your own business.
If you feel compelled to find out, ask your friend directly. Tell him that you saw a medication of his that made you concerned about him and his new date. If you want to step into his business, you could ask him if he has the disease in question and if he uses protection.
I do not recommend that you go to the new date. At this stage in history, people should know to use protection. You are not the protection police, and it is not your role to try to get your friends to behave responsibly. It is their job.