Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Feels Crush of Debt While Looking for Work

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working freelance for the past 10 years or so, and it has been a rocky road. Sometimes I’ve had great contracts. Other times, not so much. This year has been especially tough, and I am broke. Really broke. I have credit card debt, and I feel like my whole world is collapsing on me. What I have done is not good, I’m sure. I have stopped answering the phone, and I see my credit score plummeting. I don’t know what to do. I am looking for work, but without some projects, I do not have the money to pay my bills. -- Up Against the Wall, Pittsburgh

DEAR UP AGAINST THE WALL: As hard as it may seem right now, the best thing for you to do is to be upfront with your creditors. Contact each one directly, and explain your situation. Ask for leniency. Promise to pay them something the moment income begins to flow again. Ask if they would be willing to suspend late fees and negative reporting to the credit card bureaus for a couple of months while you search for work. Since the credit card company's job is to recoup its money, it will likely try to work with you. Getting some (or ideally, all) of its money back over time is its goal. Generally, if you approach the company with a positive attitude, you will get some kind of support.

Read more in: Money | Work & School | Mental Health

Reader Stressing About Hair Color

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been getting my hair dyed for about 15 years now. Like other women in my family, I went gray prematurely. I have gone to several salons over the years and have often gotten some wacky colors. I haven’t been to a salon in months, as my funds are low, and my roots are beginning to give away my silver secrets. I don’t think I can get a discount from my hair dresser, and I don’t want to go natural yet. Do you think those “paint in the roots” products work? -- Silver Secrets, Tacoma, Washington

DEAR SILVER SECRETS: How much gray hair is showing will determine whether those spot root treatments are worth it. What seems more fitting is for you to go to the beauty supply store and purchase hair dye in the color you feel you want to wear today. Then go home and follow the directions to dye your hair yourself. This may seem scary at first, especially if you have never done it before, but you can do it. Thousands of women do so all the time.

Just make sure that you clean the area you will be using for the dying. Use gloves so you do not stain your hands. Take your time. For a boost of moral support, ask a trusted friend to help you -- especially if that person has ever dyed her hair before. You can do it if you take your time.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Miscellaneous | Money