DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a hard time saving any money. I work two minimum-wage jobs, and it’s not enough. I am the main one providing for my mama and my siblings. My mama was injured a few years ago, and she needs my help. My siblings range in age from 14 to 24. I know I should save for the future, but right now I hardly make enough to feed the family every week. What can I do to make things better? -- Need to Save, Milwaukee
DEAR NEED TO SAVE: I recently spoke with a financial planner, who explained that even in the worst circumstances, you should do your best to take 10 percent off of each check and put it in savings. Even when this seems impossible, she suggested that it is essential and worth it in the long run. When you are faced with what seems like insurmountable bills, get creative. What meals can you prepare that cost less? What can anyone else in the household do to bring in extra income? Talk to your family as a group, and brainstorm ways in which each person can help. Your siblings can mow lawns, clean houses, handle a paper route and other random jobs. You must encourage them all to take on a role that will help defray the expenses.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work with a freelancer who has great ideas but is always late. I cannot stand being late for meetings. I understand it can happen from time to time, but this is a regular occurrence for this woman. I have spoken to her about time management, and she always has an excuse. She has shown up for important client meetings late -- and nonchalant about it, to boot.
I have had to apologize to clients for her attitude and tardiness. Amazingly, when she finally gets in the room, she performs like crazy. Even the clients are enthralled with her. I don’t want to stop working with her, but I do need to figure out a way to inspire her to be on time. Any suggestions? -- On Time, Dallas
DEAR ON TIME: If this woman is valuable enough to you, trick her into being on time. Determine what her normal “late” means, and tell her that your meeting time is that many minutes earlier than planned. So, a 2 p.m. meeting might be scheduled for her at 1:30. If she shows up for the newly appointed time at your 2 p.m. on-time schedule, consider this a victory.
Ultimately, though, you will need to talk to her about reality. After she gets on board with scheduling, tell her how concerned you are that you had to fool her to get it right. Point out that in order to be successful in your business -- or any business -- she MUST be on time. Period.
If you want to add something positive, tell her how much your clients seem to appreciate her participation. You do not want her lateness to be a blemish on an otherwise stellar record.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)