Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Must Clue In Kids to Realities of Losing Job

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been giving my kids an allowance since they were little -- not a lot of money, but consistent money. Now that I have lost my job and unemployment has not kicked in yet, I’m worried about how to keep up this simple practice. Obviously it’s more pressing to make sure there is enough food to eat, but I don’t want to walk away from the stability that I created in the family. Should I lower the amount but still give them something that shows my good intentions? My kids are 10 and 12. They know about the coronavirus, but do I tell them about what it means that I have lost my job? I don’t want to scare them, but I do need to manage their expectations. -- What To Say

DEAR WHAT TO SAY: Everybody has to deal with reality. That includes your children. They don’t need all of the details, but they are old enough to learn that you have lost your job and that resources are tight. You can let them know that you do not have income right now, so they don’t have income either. When unemployment begins, you may choose to give them a much-reduced allowance. Explain why it is at a lower amount, and talk to them about how they can be part of the family unit during this time. Encourage them to avoid spending money on unnecessary items. Assign them to household tasks and other duties so that they see how their focused action helps to support the family. If you behave as if you all are in this together, they will gain a clearer view of reality and understand the circumstances better.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am being bombarded with phone calls from all kinds of companies promising to give me a low-interest loan or suggesting I refinance my house or lower my auto insurance. All of these things sound great, given what’s going on in the world right now, but I am nervous about responding to them. I can’t tell which of these calls are real and which are fake. I have heard that there is a lot of fraud going on. How in the world do I figure out what is fraud and what might be a legitimate way for me to save some money? I am not internet savvy or even phone savvy. I use the computer, but I’m a senior citizen. My grands used to help me with all of this stuff, but they can’t visit now, and I don’t know how to use the smartphone. -- Avoiding Fraud

DEAR AVOIDING FRAUD: You do have to be extremely careful now with random callers and emails that offer deals. Fraud causes are up exponentially, according to many reports.

For starters, if you want to reduce the cost of any of your bills, you should initiate the call. Find the phone number on your bill, and call that. Or look for the email address on your bill. That should get you directly to the source. Do not trust a random caller. Never give your date of birth, Social Security number or address to anyone who calls you. Don’t believe a deal that seems too good to be true, because chances are it isn’t real.

To get help, you can reach out to the AARP. Call its fraud helpline at 877-908-3360. Or go to its website at

(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.)