Updated on 11.20.07

When All Hope Seems Lost…

Trent Hamm

No matter how careful you are, there may come a time where enough bad events happen that you simply cannot afford your bills any longer. While there are certain things you can do to protect yourself from ever being in that situation (building an emergency fund, practicing frugal living, etc.), they don’t really help when you have no money and there’s a pile of bills that need to be paid.

If you find yourself in this situation and don’t know what to do, here are some practical steps you can take to get started on the road to recovery.

First of all, don’t bury yourself in guilt and shame. Everyone makes mistakes in life, and you’re certainly far from the first one or the only one. I was in a situation that was quite desperate once upon a time.

Also, realize that there are solutions to your problems, no matter how bad the challenges are. Just because you don’t immediately see the answers doesn’t mean that the answers aren’t there. There are answers, and there is a path to a better situation.

The biggest step you can take is to explain your entire situation to someone and ask them for ideas. This is why checking your shame at the door is so important – in order to be able to talk to someone else about your situation, you need to minimize the shame factor and be willing to lay it all out there.

That being said, be careful about who you choose to advise you. Don’t choose someone that you feel as though you must hide pieces of the story from, or else they won’t be able to offer you strong advice. Similarly, it must be someone you trust who will try hard to offer you a valuable and accurate opinion and help you piece things together.

Similarly, do not ask this person for money, and make that clear up front. Many people will enter such a discussion with some serious concern that it will turn into a money request, so make it clear up front that you don’t want a dime – just some strong advice. Then stick to that pledge, no matter what. Their advice will be more valuable than whatever pocket money they could hand you, anyway.

Don’t be insulted by the advice they give you. If you’re in this bad of a situation, the advice you’ll hear is going to hurt. Expect that, and don’t be insulted by it. The person giving the advice is not trying to hurt you, they’re trying to help you to get in a better position.

Get multiple opinions, if you can. The more input you have, the more likely it is that you’ll find a path leading towards financial freedom. Thus, it makes sense to find multiple people to give you advice about your financial direction.

Start making the small changes now. Stop spending wasteful money now, even if you haven’t figured out the big solution yet. If you’re worried about making ends meet, but dropping $10 a day on lunch eating out, join the brown bag club. If you’re in dire straits, avoid going shopping or charging you credit card. Make those little changes now to pave the way for a brighter financial future.

When implementing solutions, check your ego at the door. One of the best things a person can do is to commit strongly to frugal living, and that might mean giving up some status symbols in your life for a while. Don’t let that drag you down, and really attempt to appreciate the smaller things you can do for yourself.

Don’t be afraid to move on to professional help. Sometimes, you may need to consult a professional (an advisor or a lawyer) to get your situation straightened out. If the people you talk to point you in this direction, don’t hesitate to go forward with it, because the longer you hesitate to make change, the harder it will be.

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  1. jake says:

    Pride and fear of embarrassment are the top two things I’d say holding people back from finding help. I know of a friend who was at the edge of being homeless before he realized he needed help.

    At one of my lowest points my thoughts were, “I have already hit bottom, I might as well dig my own grave.” Its easy to stay positive when you’re at the top but when you’re not just at the bottom but 6 feet under its a completely different story. Its a snowball effect that seems to never end. You just have to wait for that single moment where you’ve had enough and decide to change and dig your way out.

  2. Minimum Wage says:

    Sorry, I don’t see solutions tro my problems.

  3. Chef says:

    Stop depending on the government to increase your pay and do something with your life.

  4. Heidi says:

    I really could have used this article about a month ago – I have moved through most of these steps. I agree that once you choose to confide in someone, it is vitally important to lay it all out there, holding nothing back.

    @ Jake – I know excatly what you’re saying.

    Part of the reason I’m in such a mess today is that I was too proud to tell those closest to me that I couldn’t afford to go out to dinner or host a big party or chip in for a family member’s airfare – it was easier to charge it instead of say no. I finally laid it all out to my partner, and together we’re going to chinch our belts and bail ourselves out.

    Thanks for the sage advice, Trent.

  5. Maggie says:

    The only suggestion I see wrong with the above advice is going to a professional. Pros charge money, and if you don’t have even the funds to pay bills, how will you afford an attorney or financial advisor?

  6. LC says:

    @ Minimum Wage
    Trent and many commentators on this site have offered solutions to your problems. You almost seem as if you enjoy the position of being able to complain and don’t actually want to change your situation. Many people are able to thrive on a minimum wage salary – you just need to have the right attitude, get rid of your pride, and start taking small steps in the right direction.

  7. Minimum Wage says:

    I am very stressed out over money and domestic issues these days, I have to get through this before I can tackle the longer-term issues.

    I’m living on a little less than $900/mo right now, have $450 rent, $250 to a ravenous creditor (who will execute garnishment etc if I default), $90 health insurance, $44 student loan, leaving me with $50 for everything else. I’ve been selling off stuff to stay afloat. I took out a payday loan and now I have to come up with money to pay it off.

  8. Mark says:

    @ Minimum Wage

    Trent and others have tried to help you in the past, but according to your post you have not done anything to improve your situation.

    If you are that bad off why do you have an internet connection? Or if you are at work, why are you surfing and not working to improve your career?


  9. Peter says:

    My one comment to the advice in the article is with respect to seeking advice. You need to seek advice from someone who is in good shape finacially or even better someone who has gotten out of poor shape finacially as well as what Trent mentions. If everyone in your circle is in debt and living the same way you are, of what actual value is their advice other than making you feel it isn’t your fault and not your responsibility to fix.

    As a possible poor analogy, my FIL would ask his circle of friends for relationship advice when he and my MIL were hitting a rough patch, they were all guys he met at a bar, most divorced, or single, and all at the bar alone. How valuable was their advice in helping the relationship get better (which he claimed he was trying to mend)? You would have thought he’d seek out friends who had good marriages or who had weathered tough patches (which he had available) if he had been truly sincere in his efforts, rather than yes men willing to nod their heads for another round.

    Similarly, be careful of people who know exactly what you have to do (hence the need for multiple advisors)?

  10. plonkee says:

    I think that being truly, truly honest with someone else and being willing to change are absolutely necessary for getting yourself into a better position.

    It’s sad but true however, that better isn’t necessarily going to be amazing (especially if you are older). And I bet that can be hard to realise.

  11. Minimum Wage says:

    Sorry, I’m too busy stressing out. I have an internet connection ($10 dialup) because that’s how I get news (cheaper than newspaper) and apply for jobs. It’s hard when you have no marketable skills.

  12. Rob in Madrid says:

    MW it cost’s nothing to start a blog (or a thread over at getrichslowly) I’m sure you’d have a ton of readers right off the bat.

  13. Donna says:

    @minimum wage — you might want to get yourself some legal advice on the wage garnishment process in your state. there are low income legal clinics that can provide you with assistance depending on where you live. what city/state do you live in?

  14. Joe says:

    Minimum Wage why are you making only $900/month? If you work 40hrs/week and get paid onoly $6.5, you will get $1040/week. You would get most of the taxes you pay back anyways. Also, you can easily work more than 40hrs/week by working some weekends in a McDonalds or something. Alsi I’m sure you can reduce your rent by living with someone else etc – $450 is a LOT depending on where you stay…

  15. Noahdib says:

    What about working more than one job for a short period of time. You may not have what you consider marketable skills, but neither do many highschoolers working fastfood. It’s not the best pay, but every bit helps.

    Once you have some income coming in, and you are making wise choices with budgeting, you can start looking for other jobs door to door. I’ve found all my jobs this way vs. the paper/internet. If you see one on the internet, so do hundreds of others. Best to show some initiative and show up at the places you’d like to work, introduce yourself to the boss with a resume, and see what happens.

  16. jm says:

    @Minimum Wage – Isn’t garnishment something the judge decides based on income? Maybe you should just default and let them garnish you. Your payment could potentially go from $250 a month to like $5 a month if you can prove to the judge that $5 is all you can afford (which shouldn’t be hard on your salary). Also, you would get the satisfaction of screwing your creditor, who you likely already paid the original amount back to many times by now anyway.

    Of course, I am not a lawyer, so don’t take the above as legal advice.

  17. Mark says:

    @ Minimum Wage – I am beginning to think you are just looking for reasons to complain, or just trying to fire everyone up.

    Internet is free at most libraries.

    It is Tuesday at 3 PM, if your situation is so bad why are you spending your time commenting on this blog, you should be out working/searching for work.

  18. Noahdib says:

    I’ll add to the above that at previous companies I’ve worked for DID actually hire those who walked in more so than those who only came in after the company had to advertise for them. I’ve worked in anything from fast food to corporate settings (over a good time span), and I’ve seen it in any one of those situations.

    If you live in a town/city that has more than 100 businesses, as do a majority of this country, you have a good shot.

    As a worse-case scenario, you’d still have your other fast food jobs & you’ll find out what you need to do to IMPROVE & ACT upon your current situation to get hired the next time around.

  19. PJA says:

    Oh cut MW a break will you? Sometimes bad things happen.

    And when things are looking hopeless it’s tough to get motivated.

    MW: I would suggest do a snowball of accomplishments just to get a ray of hope. Just starting doing stuff – anything (legal of course) to improve things. Start small, be ok with it not working out and just get cranking. Even if you go down in flames you can go down proudly knowing you fought the entire way.

    “Sloth, like Rust, consumes faster than Labour wears, while the used Key is always bright.” B Franklin -1758

  20. Mark says:

    @ PJA,

    Minimum Wage has a history of these sorts of comments all over this site. Trent has even addressed him in a post I believe. I am not being hard on him, if he really is in this bad situation he has not done anything about it.

  21. Justin says:

    @PJA, Minimum Wage doesn’t want a break. MW likes to cause problems. He/She wants nothing to do with listening to advice or bettering themselves.

  22. Minimum Wage says:

    HELLOOOOOOO! I’m in this mess precisely because I couldn’t afford legal advice. I’ve already tried Legal Aid, they’re booked up for about the next year.

  23. Mark says:

    See what I mean, MW is NEVER satisfied with any help that anyone gives, and worst of all he is ungrateful to those that are trying to help. He has lost all credibility in my eyes.

  24. Minimum Wage says:

    Where did you get the idea I get back most of my taxes anyway?> My state income taxes are higher than the fed tax, plus Social Security. Any refund I would get is gobbled up to pay my student loans.

  25. Minimum Wage says:

    Okay, Mark, what do you propose I might do about it? I’ve tried Legal Aid, they have a long waiting list. (Okay, I’m in line.) I’ve sold off my small coin collection. I’m trying to sell some other stuff online. I’m looking for more income but I need it ASAP and can’t wait for a blog to generate income. (Yes, I’m still going to do the blog thing as soon as I get through my current crisis.)

  26. justin says:

    Minimum Wage,

    Have you ever considered working for a living, instead of being a professional complainer?

  27. Minimum Wage says:

    Why, yes, I have, but with no marketable skills, all I can seem to get are minimum wage jobs. I also spend three weekday mornings in a medical clinic, which makes it impossible to work a normal 9-5 job. Also, I don’t have either a car or a driver license, so I’m shut out of many income-earning opportunities. (TONS of opportunities on craigslist to make money if you have a car) I recently found some great janitor jobs at Intel, but they were swing shift and got out too late to get home by bus (and 15 miles is entirely too far to walk). Something I could do at home to make money would be great since it wouldn’t require a car and I’d be able to productively use my few hours here and there that aren’t long enough (esp with bus travel time) for a job shift.

  28. justin says:

    Grow Vegetables in your back yard and sell them to your neighbors.

  29. Minimum Wage says:

    I live on a property with someone else (kinda like Kato Kaelin in OJ’s guest house), she already has a garden so there’s no room for me to grow anything.

    (Yeah, I know, getting into crummy housing situations is part of the price of being poor.)

  30. Allison says:

    You could get a temporary part time job at your local grocery store. I just did that because my one job income wasn’t cutting it anymore for our two person household. Tons of places are hiring for the holidays right now, and grocery stores in particular will be more flexible with your hours if you let them know from the get go that you are only available during certain hours/days.

  31. Shevy says:

    Okay, I have a mental picture of MW right now as a pinata and we’re all lining up to take a poke, but it’s so hard to resist when s/he’s wearing that big BASH ME sign!

    Let me give MW the benefit of the doubt and ask a couple of things that either haven’t been asked or haven’t been answered yet.

    1. You obviously read Joe’s comment since you asked him why he thought you get most of your taxes back. You didn’t answer the most important question he posed. Why do you only net $900/mo when Joe points out that you should gross about $1040/week. Surely taxes and other deductions don’t take 3/4 of your monthly income?

    2. Why would you ever take a payday loan? Don’t you know that those things charge the equivalent of about 300% interest? They can get people in trouble who have much stronger financial situations than you. I know you don’t have much leeway each month, but a payday loan only makes matters worse! If you needed money for food you’d be better off going to soup kitchens and food banks.

    Finally, a new or additional job. You said you have the dialup so you can read the news and apply for jobs. As someone who has worked in a variety of offices I can tell you that applications that come in via email or fax better be really impressive in terms of the person’s qualifications (an area where you say you come up short).

    Want to know how to really make an impression? Apply in person! Wear clean, neat clothing even if it came from a thrift shop. Take a shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair and smile. Don’t say “yes, but” like you do on these PF blogs.

    Go to all the stores in the mall and ask if you can drop off a resume or fill in an application. Half the places will be hiring PT workers right now (the other half already finished hiring but some of those people may not work out). Do the same at the food court, at the gas station, etc.

    When you get an interview, show interest in the company. Write a thank you note, even if you have to drop it off in person because you can’t afford to pay for postage. Call back or drop by and ask about the job. If they say it’s filled, ask them to keep you in mind for the next opening they get. (I know someone who did all this for months and eventually got hired by the local bus company, a hard-to-get well-paying union job.)

    If you can get one or two PT jobs from now until January, you might luck into a permanent PT spot there whenever they have somebody leave. PT work, combined with your regular job would help you get on firmer footing.

    I’m not in dire straights now by any means, but several years ago I was a single parent with 3 kids, no child support and had a couple of jobs (at different times) that paid as little as $1,000 per month so I know it can be done. Your negative attitude is holding you back.

  32. KR says:

    I had a friend who worked swing shift at an HP site in the UK. He also had no car. He did take a combination of taxi/train to get to work, but often had the same problem getting home (no more busses). He quickly found someone at the job site who was willing to give him a lift home. But these things will of course take time to plan. I think you would be able to get someone w/in a week of starting a job there.

  33. Anon says:

    I hope something great happens to you soon, MW.

  34. lorax says:

    MW has been banned from at least one other blog, for similar inane comments.

    Given the amount of time he spends commenting in blogs, it seems that he could hold down a second job… Or at least he could look for a better paying job where he can put his technical prowess or even typing skills to work. Now is the time to look for seasonal work.

    We don’t know the circumstances behind the postings. He could be mentally or physically disabled. We all want to be compassionate, but this media imposes limits. After all, on the internet nobody knows that you’re really a dog. :)

  35. It would be great if you have people around you whom you can trust with information or even just support. A lot of pressure can be relieved just by talking to people who can reassure you and give you a shoulder to lean on. In the off chance that people are unable to provide you with direction, it’s still very helpful to feel support from others. I draw strength through my family but you can find it in your community or other places such as support groups, church, professionals and experts in the given issues you are facing.

  36. headabovewater says:

    Once again minimum wage has hijacked another blog.
    trent, good post.i wish i had seen this yesterday when i was feeling so down about my finances

  37. Jon says:

    Hey MW did you ever check out Barnes and Noble? I’m telling you, they pay more than minimum wage and have benefits even for part timers. If you tell them you can work closing shifts pretty often (usually ends at midnight, better than that janitorial job I’m sure) then you will be greatly in demand.

    Hehe here’s an idea. Why don’t some well-known PF bloggers travel to meet MW and have a little intervention. Bring a video camera, put the result on YouTube. ?. Profit!

  38. Margaret says:

    Re wage garnishment — look up the rules for your state. Where I live, there is a minimum monthly amount that cannot be garnisheed, then only 50% of everything above that amount can be garnisheed. It’s been many years since I’ve checked, but I recall that our threshold was $800 a month. If it were the same in Minimum Wage’s state, the creditor would only be able to get $50 a month.

    As for seeking advice — I can’t think of anyone whom I would feel really comfortable with laying out my entire financial picture. I would be seriously concerned about them keeping it confidential. Mind you, I know what I need to do and many of the financial mistakes I have made. Although I am somewhat of a slave to the creditors, I don’t actually feel trapped — just stuck on an unpleasant path while I work my way out.

  39. Minimum Wage says:

    I’m a fat slob with bad credit and bad teeth, nobodyu will hire me for a retail job. Similarly, nobody will hire me for an office job (I learned that when even the temp agencies wouldn’t send me to offices). Yes, internet is free at libraries – you get one hour a day, you have to wait in line for it (usually more than an hour, on weekends (because they have shorter hours) you have to wait several hours, and if you’re not able to get there on a specific day, you don’t get to make it up with two hours the next day. Oh, and I desperately need a haircut but I can’t even afford that right now.

  40. Minimum Wage says:

    There is NO limit on bank account garnishment, they can gobble up every cent in your account. Which sould be a huge problem when they slurp all my money and my rent check bounces.

  41. Minimum Wage says:

    There is nothing on my resume that would positively interest an employer: two dead-end jobs in 25 years, yawn. They see my degree and lack of advancement or career-related experience, and it’s a lot easier (and safer) to just toss the resume than to offer an interview.

  42. Minimum Wage says:

    I can’t wait a week at a job to find someone to give me a ride home; a 15-mile cab ride is expensive and I certainly couldn’t afford it for a week before getting paid.

  43. Mark says:

    @ Minimum Wage,

    Brush your teeth and exercise….

  44. reulte says:

    Apply for a government job . . .

  45. Diane says:

    MW could you train as a nurse’s aide for a nursing home or something? It is a difficult job but here in Columbus they pay between $10 and $11 dollars an hour. They pay for training and you get medical and dental too. Eventually you will have to summon the courage of despair. It’s there. I know.

  46. reulte says:

    MW —
    fat – exercise as best you can
    bad credit – work on it
    bad teeth – well, brush & floss frequently,
    smile widely infrequently,
    perfect the close mouth grin
    slob – ‘slob’ness is pretty voluntary, give it up.

  47. Ron says:

    No one feels sorry for someone who feels sorry for himself.

    1. Student loans ALL offer hardship deferments. (Predicted response: I cannot get a deferment or I already used my deferment)
    2. Go to Consumer Credit Counseling at the YMCA. I did this 12 years ago and they helped me get out of a bad situation by teaching me some budgeting and by working with my creditors. (Predicted response: They cannot help me)
    3. Get another job. Unemployment is at an all time low (thanks to the Bush tax cuts), and everywhere I look, HELP WANTED signs are up. If you cannot get someone to hire you because of your teeth, brush them, go to the free dental clinic in town and get them fixed. (Predicted response: no clinic, cannot find job)
    4. Go to the local Temp Agency and apply. (Predicted response: they won’t hire me)
    5. Go to the college you graduated from and ask for help in their career office. (Predicted response: they cannot/will not help me because I owe on student loans)

    MW doesn’t want a hand up, but a hand out. Until MW learns to take responsibility and DO SOMETHING, he/she will continue to wallow in the mire of self pity. What is interesting is that MW doesn’t respond to those who actually have good ideas such as Margaret, Mark, Jon, Shevy, Allison, et al.

    What MW needs to do is quit reading the Internet and get off the chair and get to work.

  48. Stephan F- says:

    Trent, this is good advice. I worked out much the same thing from experience. After I got fired I spent a lot of time looking for work but no one would even respond to anything I did. After a 1000+ resumes sent out and not even a “We got you resume and will keep it on file fore 6 months” reply, it was pretty bad.

    So I went a few people for help. All the advice I got was “Get a Job” Now why didn’t I think of that eventually I got a entry level job in a call center. After 90 days I was in their top 12 producers but they offered nothing extra, not even a pat on the back. A couple of weeks later my health imploded and I was in the hospital for a week. That job cost us 3x in medical bills then I earned there. So much for advice.

    We sold our home at a loss to retire all that debt and moved to start over.

    Minimum Wage – You are seriously depressed. Your life is in danger from yourself. You need help. Much as we would like to help you, you need someone in person, text is just not up to the job. Many churches have programs to help those in positions such as yours. We can’t do this for you, you have to do it yourself.

    MW – You are looking for the wrong kind of help here. You don’t need financial help or even job help, you need emotional help first. I had to ask for help a lot of times before someone would do more then give me useless money. Complaining is easy, finding good help is hard. Go to some churches in your area and see if they have some depression help. Fix the biggest problem first.

  49. Tall Bill says:

    It looks fairly straight forward: Turn off the computer, walk down the street & stop in at 3 – 4 help wanted signs per day & within a week a job will be in hand. 2nd: Does the clinic you help at expect additional hours, or can they point you in the right direction for more hours? If not, check the signs in any town in America as first mentioned.

  50. MossySF says:

    MW, take a break. Spend 5 days doing research on your story to make sure you have all the details correct. The more inconsistency you post, the less people take what you say at face value and it will be harder to get their goat up.

  51. cllslp says:

    If you don’t block MW I’m going to quit reading this blog.
    All the comments are is blah, blah, blah.

  52. Minimum Wage says:

    Given the amount of time he spends commenting in blogs, it seems that he could hold down a second job… Or at least he could look for a better paying job where he can put his technical prowess or even typing skills to work. Now is the time to look for seasonal work.

    SCHEDULING problenms, bub. Can’t do 9-5 day job because of three-day-a-week medical appointments. (Not sure if an employer would have to accomodate such a schedule under ADA.) Can’t do swing shift at most places because the jobs get out too late to get home by bus. Graveyard shifts are often out because I have to be at the clinic early in the morning – travel time is the problem here. My job has funny shifts which don’t correspond to the “normal” shifts in most jobs, which works great for me but it makes normal shifts at another job hard to work into my schedule.

    Also, my typing speed is 30 wpm, not to many employers consider that acceptable. (This speed IS good enough for many phone or call center jobs, and I’m looking, but don’t have any experience in those areas.

    Not sure if I have any technical prowess, but I can try to fake it. (heh)

    I didn’t realize until recently how just having a car improves your earning potential. There’s a radio talk show host who often cites some study showing a car gives you more earning potential than a high school diploma (!!!) but I was very skeptical.

  53. Minimum Wage says:

    And there isn’t anyone around me I can talk to, I am consumed with shame and can’t FTF so all I can do is hide behind my keyboard.

  54. Minimum Wage says:

    Apply for a government job? Good luck with that since I don’t have marketable skills. I’m always looking at the government jkob listings and wonder, how do people GET these esoteric jobs? (Just look at the job description and requirements sometime – some of them are realk doozies. I suspect many of these job descriptions are written with specific people in mind they want to hire.)

    I once lived in a state which had a “college graduate” applicant pool, you didn’t need specific skills or experience to get into the pool, just a degree and take a test and score high enough. (They used score bands (like 90s, 80s, 70s) instead of a continuous scale – so a score of 90 gave you a much greater chance of getting invited to apply for a job opening than someone with a score of 89, but an 89 afforded NO advantage over someone with a score of 80.) They also had an affirmative action component, so white males had the lowest chances of being able to even apply for a job opening. I scored in the 90s (they tell you only your score band, not the actual number) and got a handful of applications but the jobs all had oddball requirements that I couldn’t meet.

  55. Minimum Wage says:

    1. Student loans ALL offer hardship deferments. (Predicted response: I cannot get a deferment or I already used my deferment)

    BINGO! I paid intermittently when I was able, and otherwise deferred payment (like when the inevitable rent increases kicked in) as long as possible. One day the bank (lender) told me I had used up all of my delay time and now it was time to pay up. They would not accept anything less than the scheduled payment on the scheduled date. So I defaulted, and now I am completely ineligible for any financial aid, plus I am also unable to consolidate my loans to reduce my interest rate. So the payments I am currently making are going almost fully to interest and I am reducing the principal about $30 a year.

  56. Minimum Wage says:

    2. Go to Consumer Credit Counseling at the YMCA. I did this 12 years ago and they helped me get out of a bad situation by teaching me some budgeting and by working with my creditors. (Predicted response: They cannot help me)

    Good idea, I will try them. But one of my debts is in the hands of a lawyer who specializes in collection, and I think CCC isn’t capable of doing much dealing with lawyers. (The creditor’s normal collection grunt workers said it was out of their hands.)

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think there’s much fault to be found with my budgeting. I don’t have any toys (besides this USED slow bare-bones PC) or vices. (I don’t have a life either, but that’s another story.)

  57. Minimum Wage says:

    3. Get another job. Unemployment is at an all time low (thanks to the Bush tax cuts), and everywhere I look, HELP WANTED signs are up. If you cannot get someone to hire you because of your teeth, brush them, go to the free dental clinic in town and get them fixed. (Predicted response: no clinic, cannot find job)

    I’ve never heard of a free dental clinic. Medicaid does provide free dental services here, but a childless adult has to earn less than %550 per month to qualify, and I earn more than that. Basically, you have to be a non-working bum to qualify, I guess.

    I live in an area of net in-migration (Gen Y or whatever generation is in their 20s now) is moving here from all over the country and there is a glut of educated cheap labor. Three college graduates where I work, earning minimum wage.

  58. john says:

    Minimum Wage,

    One day your computer will break, and you won’t be able to afford another one. I can’t wait for that day.

  59. Minimum Wage says:

    4. Go to the local Temp Agency and apply. (Predicted response: they won’t hire me)

    Tried that, I really lack the skills and experience they want. (I got tested…no fun when you flunk.) They won’t put me in an office and I don’t have the industrial skills where appearance wouldn’t be a big issue.

    There’s a temp agency which does ONLY skilled trades but of course I don’t have skills. I just found one that specializes in grunt labor jobs, I went there yesterday, they said they do a group orientation M-F mornings at 7:30, they’re closed tomorrow of course, so the soonest I can get in there is next Tuesday. (frown, but I think this is my best shot)

    Do other cities have temp agencies which specialize in skilled or unskilled labor? Where I came from, there were agencies which specialized in accounting, plus the usual office-type agencies, but I never saw one before for working class types.

  60. Minimum Wage says:

    5. Go to the college you graduated from and ask for help in their career office. (Predicted response: they cannot/will not help me because I owe on student loans)

    I don’t think my student loans would be a problem here, but my college helps alumni for one year after graduation, after that, all they offer is making your resume available to employers looking for people with your major. If I were to join my college’s alumni association I’d have more options to network with fellow alums, but that’s $50 a year I can’t afford. Since my resume if virtually worthless and unimpressive, I think providing it to my college (and in turn to employers) could lead only to bad things (embarrassment, more shame, etc).

  61. Minimum Wage says:

    MW doesn’t want a hand up, but a hand out. Until MW learns to take responsibility and DO SOMETHING, he/she will continue to wallow in the mire of self pity. What is interesting is that MW doesn’t respond to those who actually have good ideas such as Margaret, Mark, Jon, Shevy, Allison, et al.

    I will spend some time reading those ideas, I was in a hurry this morning when I posted and just blew through a lot of stuff without exactly digesting it.

  62. Minimum Wage says:

    p.s. I don’t help at a clinic, I am a patient there (heh).

  63. rhbee says:

    STOP! Go back to Trent’s post about deciding whether to sttay with the 529s or not. Read the explanation of how his friend encouraged his children. And finally, think about how many of the comments above are directed to helping/encouraging one, I repeat, one, person who can’t/won’t get off the dime. At our crisis center, we call that person a repeat and when we encounter them often enough we realize one thing, it is time to move on. Otherwise, you are enabling someone to stay where they are. As Lenny Bruce would say “Forget him”.

  64. Minimum Wage says:

    Won’t get off what dime? I’m working, I’m selling stuff online (dirt cheap because I can’t post pics and buyers want more than a text description – this is why I didn’t sell earlier), I’m looking for a better/additional job. If that’s not trying, what is?

  65. PiFreak says:

    @ Minimum Wage
    If all you do is complain, drop the internet. If you have the cheapest, that’s $10 a month, and if it’s more, then that’s just dumb. If you’re at a library, go read!

  66. Anne says:

    Joe says: Minimum Wage why are you making only $900/month? If you work 40hrs/week and get paid onoly $6.5, you will get $1040/week.

    Um, I think you mean $1040 a month. $6.50 x 40 = $260. And $1040 a month gross would not come out to more than $900 net.

    I think MW is more credible than you all think. I agree that emotional help may be needed. But my high-school-diploma daughter just went through an excruciating period of job-searching; she luckily finally landed a really well-paying job through doing really really well in a cattle-call interview. But the walking-up-to-stores thing was a total washout for her, despite the fact that she is very bright, presented herself with excellent politeness, good eye contact, bright and shiny attitude…. she is unusual-looking, in a way that she cannot help. All the good grooming and good dressing in the world doesn’t make someone hire you if they have a gut feeling that you look — different. Thank God she found something, it’s a fantastic job. She was getting seriously depressed too. That’s all behind her now!

    If you have not read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Nickeled and Dimed to Death in America,” it’s very helpful in understanding the whole minimum-wage dilemma. Living at minimum wage is VERY hard and trying to do better is unexpectedly very hard too, even for a bright, well-educated middle-class woman trying her best. I suspect that many of the other commenters in this thread are angry at NW because his existence and persistence challenge their preconceptions. I used to think that it’s easy to get a job, and especially easy to get a low-paying job. As my daughter discovered, this is not always true. I know I’ve heard the advice before that one should take a job flipping burgers, or sacking groceries, or doing ANYTHING. Believe me — just because the HELP WANTED sign is up on the door, doesn’t mean you can get that job! Just because you come in, present yourself as a bright and shiny and willing and eager and SMART applicant — you still might not be hired for it. (I have not had trouble finding a job, I am fairly well-paid, and this fact was quite amazing to me.)

    I want to offer some kudos to MW for his lack of anger and defensiveness at some rather mean things that have been said about him here. He has responded in much more reasonable terms. Some of you wish he would go away and think he cannot be telling the truth. I think his story is sad and frightening and I think it’s probably true. I think MW represents a truth in our society that we all would like to ignore. I think many of you cannot imagine being in his position, but I can imagine it all too well. I watched my daughter go through it, and all the advice I could offer didn’t help. Again, thanks be to God for her new job.

    MW, keep your chin up. Keep trying. I’ll pray for you. My daughter got her job off craigslist, go figure. And she had nothing much at all on her resume. I’m not really sure why they called her.

    Go find that book and read it, and then tell me you don’t believe MW!

  67. Minimum Wage says:

    I find the internet to provide the most timely income opportunities (e.g. craigslist, where you can literally find and miss out on opportunities within a matter of minutes). I’ve got a very good job lead from there.

    Print media don’t work nearly as well these days for jobseekers.

  68. reulte says:

    Anne – having read (and lived to some extent) Nickeled and Dimed, I don’t disagree that Minimum Wage has a rough time. What many people have commented on is the negative attitude that WM has presented to this community. For almost every suggestion given, there has been a “Been there, can’t do that, won’t try” reply. Kudos to MW on some of the responses in this thread indicating he would look into some things.

    For instance, in an earlier post (on a different topic, I think) I suggested a government position. MW’s response in this thread is …

    “Apply for a government job? Good luck with that since I don’t have marketable skills. I’m always looking at the government job listings and wonder, how do people GET these esoteric jobs? (Just look at the job description and requirements sometime – some of them are real doozies. I suspect many of these job descriptions are written with specific people in mind they want to hire.)

    First – if MW has NO marketable skills then how is he (she?) able to actually hold down any job?

    Second – I just looked up entry level positions for persons without a degree and came up with over 1300 (not a lot, except some of these listings are for multiple positions – i.e. we will hire 10 people). Entry level position with either some experience in office work (but no typing speed requirement) or with a non-specified degree totaled over 17000. Now, agreed – that is nationwide with a few international options. Agreed that most of these positions are in more populous cities/states. It was the best I could do without knowing anything about MW although I did try to stay out of anything requiring enlistment into National Guard.

    Third – these descriptions are not written with someone in mind; they can’t be – because they are generally written at some central point. Example – someone in Seattle wants a clerk and decides they must (1) type at 80 and (2) able to lift 25 lbs. Wash DC comes back and says something like “For typing at 80 wpm you want a GS 232-9 Stenographer – pay is XXX, announcement description is ‘blah, blah’, your office requirements of this position do not support the hiring of a GS-9, we suggest a GS-123-4/5/6 Clerk with typing of 45 or an GS-321-1/2/3 Office Assistant (OA); lifting cannot be a job requirement of a GS-410 clerk, but can of an OA” Ah, beauracracy! Yes, some of the announcements are doozies and sound pretty complicated. They usually aren’t after you have scrubbed out the extraneous material and gotten to the “qualifications requirement”. If you aren’t sure, apply anyway. You can always ask questions during the interview. When I was hired for a summer program when I was 16, I was merely called asking if I was still interested and then told where to show up and what to bring – a piece of photo ID. On the other hand – my current position took over a year from being told I was hired to actually starting the position.

    I don’t want to say I enjoy MW’s enjoyment of complaining; I do want to say that I would be interested in learning more ABOUT MW and his position. For example, MW appears to have a college degree, but in what? MW has an illness/disability of some kind that requires going to a clinic 3x a week — the only two things that suggests to me is either dialysis or plasma donation (but I’m not in medicine). MW appears to have no friends or family? Why – orphaned or simply cantankerous? MW needs some assistance – but either won’t ask (certainly won’t ask here) or discounts any aid with the statement that the opponent is stronger (i.e. the bit about the CCC vs the collection lawyer) although this is merely MW’s opinion. I get the feeling that he hasn’t asked CCC. And the statement about the collection grunt saying it was out of his hands … shessh! That was a way of saying ‘I’m too lazy to work with you’. The proper response to that is “Then I’d like to speak with someone in control.”

    I think people that are seriously working on bettering their personal finances/debt reduction/frugality don’t let the first “No” stop them cold. As a Marine who served in Iraq told me, “Obstacles. You go over them, under them, around them or through them”.

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