Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Underemployed Reader Worried Girlfriend Will Leave

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I never catch a break. I have a low-paying job, debt from school loans and bad choices, and a car that is cutting out on me. I could keep going, but it gets depressing just thinking about it. I have cut back my expenses dramatically since I have had this job, but I can’t seem to get out of the hole. Just trying to pay minimums on my credit cards is close to impossible.

I have a girlfriend, and I can hardly take her out on dates. I know I got myself into this situation, but it makes me so sad. I feel like if I don’t get it together, she is going to leave me. I try to put on a good face, but who am I fooling? I am tired of pretending like it’s getting better when it isn’t. I don’t have the skills to get a better-paying job right now. What can I do to turn the corner? -- Drowning in Debt, Denver

DEAR DROWNING IN DEBT: You have taken the first step by admitting your problem. The next step is taking action. You can get support to help figure out a path to financial freedom by engaging a credit counseling service. Often, it will look at your finances and recommend debt consolidation that it negotiates on your behalf to drive down interest rates. The challenge with this is that your credit will be frozen during the period that you are paying down your debt. The good news is that when it’s finished, you will be able to rebuild your credit starting with a clean credit history. To learn more, go to

One other thing you can consider is to get a second, part-time job to supplement your income. Many people work two jobs to make ends meet. You will have to deal with time management challenges, but you can figure that out, too.

DEAR HARRIETTE: In a recent column, you advised a woman with a drug-addict boyfriend to attend Al-Anon, which you said was for people with a relationship with an alcoholic and/or drug addict. It is not. It is for families and friends of alcoholics. For families and friends of drug addicts, there is Nar-Anon; for drug addicts, there is Narcotics Anonymous. -- Clarification, Memphis, Tennessee

DEAR CLARIFICATION: Thank you for letting us know about the support groups available for drug addicts and families and friends of drug addicts. I do know that in some instances, Al-Anon has helped people whose loved ones were drug addicts, but I believe it may have been because they were alcoholics, too. Nonetheless, it is helpful to be specific in directing folks to resources that can help them. I appreciate your writing in.

For anyone who is suffering from substance abuse, I urge you to get help. You do not have to travel this journey alone. Same goes for families who are struggling with loved ones who can’t seem to get clean. Being isolated can be disabling. Get help. You deserve it.

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