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I am close to bankruptcy and can’t tell my family

Dear Jane,

11 months ago, I suddenly lost my (very well-paid) corporate job. It came completely out of the blue, and I suddenly found myself devoid of the rather large income I had enjoyed for many years. I was convinced that I’d find a new job pretty quickly so didn’t make any changes to my lifestyle. I had some savings and figured I could just rely on that until a new position came along.

I didn’t tell my family and friends about my change in circumstances, because I thought I could keep things ticking along and then surprise them all with the news that I’d found a bigger, better position so was switching jobs.

I kept living my life much the same as I always had, going out to dinners with friends, buying my loved ones expensive gifts for Christmas and birthdays, and enjoying the occasional girls’ trip in places like Mexico and the Bahamas.

But now, I’ve found myself in a terrifying position where all my savings are gone, my credit card bills are huge, and I’m too mortified to tell anyone, least of all ask for help.

If I don’t do something soon, I’m going to be nearing the point of bankruptcy, but I can’t face the idea of suddenly quitting my way of life.

From, Financially Distressed

Dear Jane, I lost my job but refused to cut my spending – now I’m on the verge of bankruptcy and don’t know how to tell my family and friends 

Dear Financially Distressed,

A friend told me recently that they had been speaking to a financial expert in our town, who revealed that we would be astonished at the number of locals who we think are wealthy, who are now struggling. Between the pandemic, job shifts, smaller bonuses than expected and the stock market tanking, tons of people are trying to maintain their lifestyle with little more than smoke and mirrors.

International best-selling author offers sage advice on readers' most burning issues in her weekly Dear Jane agony aunt column

International best-selling author offers sage advice on readers’ most burning issues in her weekly Dear Jane agony aunt column

All this to say, you are not alone. This is happening to millions of people. 

The sooner we can come out and be honest, tell others that things are hard, that we can’t afford something, the sooner we tighten our belts and the quicker that mantle of shame that weighs us down is dropped. And frankly, if anyone treats you differently because you do not have the money you once had, then we all know they were not actually friends, and good riddance.

I understand how devastating and terrifying it is to lose not only your job, but potentially your status, but Financially Distressed, you have to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, because – as you have pointed out – bankruptcy is on the horizon and there is no way to hide that. You need to stop pretending everything is fine, stop caring what people think, and get yourself out of this mess.

How do you get yourself out? Start thinking about moving to reduce at least some of your bills. If you own your house, perhaps you can rent it out and find yourself a smaller rental until you get back on your feet. If a corporate job isn’t coming, get yourself a job – any job whether it’s in retail or a coffee shop – to bring in some money.

Speak to your credit card companies about a financial plan to pay them back, then, Financially Distressed, cut those things up. You need to start living within your means, which means no credit cards and no spending on unnecessary things.

There are apps like Pocket Expense that allow you to track your spending, set your own budgets, and alert you when you have reached the limit.

It’s easy to read your letter and make judgments about your situation, but fear of our lifestyles changing, fear of the world seeing we aren’t good enough, is the most human of emotions, and something that you mustn’t be ashamed of. I suspect that once you start making changes and find a job that is not the sort of job you are used to, but is nevertheless a job, you will feel more free than you can imagine right now. 

Good luck, FD. I fully expect you to soar again.

Dear Jane,

My husband and I have been married for more than 20 years – but it’s been eight years since he’s really kissed me. He’s always said that he hates deep kisses with tongues, but for the first ten or so years of our relationship he really tried because he knew how much I enjoyed them.

Then all of a sudden, he just stopped and since that day he’s gone as far as to push me away if I try and kiss him like that.

I can’t help but feel that it’s me. What changed to make me not worth trying for anymore? 

Friends have told me to talk to him about it but I’m too scared that bringing it up will make him tell me everything I’ve been fearing about myself is true.

From, No Longer Being Kissed

Dear Kiss-free,

Dear Jane’s Sunday Service 

Good God, keeping up with the Joneses is exhausting

I know because I spent many years doing it, the root of the problem being that I didn’t feel good enough. I was so terrified that other people would see through the perfect veneer to the scared little girl hiding underneath, the little girl who knew she wasn’t clever enough, thin enough or pretty enough. 

Most of us carry similar fears. That’s why we spin stories about how successful we are, even when on the verge of bankruptcy. But when we learn that we are not defined by our jobs, our financial success, or designer labels, we set ourselves free. 

Once we are vulnerable enough to be honest, we attract the right people who will love and support us not because of what we have, but because of who we are.

You don’t say what it is you are frightened to discover if you talk to your husband, but I am guessing it is something along the lines of you not being sexy enough, him not being attracted to you, you – in short – not being enough for him. Like the earlier letter today, this one is also, once you start digging, about shame.

And yet, he has always been clear about hating deep kisses with tongues, which tells me this is not about you, but entirely about him. In fact, he has put your needs above his and tried very hard to please you. 

I suspect that him stopping has nothing to do with you, and more that after all these years of marriage, he’s dropping the mantle of pretense. We often try something on that we know we don’t really like, but for a while we do it to accommodate our partner. As time goes by we become more comfortable, trust that we are in a solid partnership, and no longer feel the need to pretend. Also, we get lazy.

When I met my husband, we spent the first few summers on his boat. Whenever he suggested going out on the boat, I was quick to jump up. Years later he asked what happened to me, because I now hate going out on the boat. I explained that it wasn’t that I was pretending to like boats, but that I was trying it on in a bid to do something that would make him happy. After a few years, I had to come clean. I’m simply not a boat person. Just as your husband is clearly not a kissing person.

But, it is important that you bring this up with him. Not in a fearful way, but calmly and without emotion, in a bid to try and understand. 

And then, Kiss-free, it may be something that you learn to live without. A 20+ year marriage is a wonderful thing in this day and age, and clearly there are many things about your marriage that have made it successful. Do not let a small thing like kissing with tongues derail it.


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