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Money Advice For a Struggling Couple

Thursday, 2 Oct 2008 | 3:07 PM ET

Question: My husband and I are struggling financially. He’s 61 and I’m 57 and we have more in credit card debt than we do in savings. Our grown daughter lives with us and doesn’t help with the bills. I’ve been thinking of getting a full-time job to improve our situation. Does this make sense at my age? --Rose, OH

Answer: Of course! It makes perfect sense for you to get a job and increase your income. If you’ve been out of the work force for a while, it may take you some time to secure employment and re-adjust, but the sacrifice will be worth it in my opinion. With a negative net worth (where your debts and liabilities exceed your assets) you’ve got to make more money, cut your expenses where possible, and continue reducing and eliminating your debt while not incurring any new debt.

What doesn’t make sense to me is that your “grown” daughter doesn’t help with the bills. Give me a break! Your “grown” daughter is an adult now. It’s time she left the nest or at least contributed to the nest. There is no good reason I can think of for her to get a free ride while you and your hubby struggle financially.

Listen Rose, you’ve probably been a good mom for her entire life but giving your daughter a free ride isn’t good for your finances, your future or either of your self esteem. One obvious solution is for your daughter to start contributing a portion of her income to the household. Sit your daughter down today and have a heart to heart talk with her. Tell your daughter you love her and give her a timetable to step up financially (a few months). If she gives you any problems, let her know that she will be responsible for her parent’s retirement if things continue the way they are. I think she’ll be happy to contribute.

Bill’s Bottom Line: Get a job! Stop incurring new debt! Ask your daughter to contribute to the household. Have your husband consider starting Social Security at age 62. Meet with a qualified financial planner for assistance.

Bill Losey, CFP®, CSA, America's Retirement Strategist®, is the resident retirement planning expert on CNBC’s “On the Money”. He has been named one of America’s Top Financial Planners and is the author of Retire in a Weekend! The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Making Work Optional. Bill can be reached online at www.MyRetirementSuccess.com.