Cou­ple must come to terms with fi­nances

The Saline Courier - - OPINION - HARRIETTE COLE ••• Harriette Cole is a lifestylis­t and founder of DREAMLEAPE­RS, an ini­tia­tive to help peo­ple ac­cess and ac­ti­vate their dreams. You can send ques­tions to askhar­ri­[email protected]­ri­et­ or c/o An­drews Mcmeel Syndicatio­n, 1130 Wal­nut St., Ka

“Congress shall make no law ... abridg­ing the free­dom of speech, or of the press ... . ” — From the First Amend­ment to Con­sti­tu­tion

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m hav­ing a hard time keep­ing up with the Jone­ses, so to speak. My hus­band and I moved into a new neigh­bor­hood af­ter he got a fat pro­mo­tion. We like it a lot, and some of our neigh­bors are great. But we re­al­ized quickly that they have many ex­pec­ta­tions about how they en­gage each other. They have al­ready hosted week­end par­ties and in­vited the whole neigh­bor­hood this sum­mer. We have at­tended some fun events, but they are way over the top for our bud­get. What we thought was a leg up in our life­style is noth­ing to these peo­ple. We are poor by no means, but we feel like we stick out. How can we con­tinue to live within our means and be ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in our new neigh­bor­hood? -- Sticker Shock

DEAR STICKER SHOCK: You have to come to terms with who you are and what you can af­ford. You may not be able to host the same level of lav­ish party as your neigh­bors, but ask your­self what you can do. Can you host a themed party that is fun and en­gag­ing, even if it is not as op­u­lent? Or go in the op­po­site di­rec­tion and host a sim­ple, ca­sual bar­be­cue where you serve af­ford­able food and drinks? If you can host a mod­est event where you feel com­fort­able, you can set the tone for your guests to feel com­fort­able, too.

In­stead of at­tempt­ing to keep up with their lux­u­ri­ous life­styles, es­tab­lish your own niche. Those who en­joy your events will keep com­ing. Oth­ers will trail off. That’s fine, too.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I am drowning in tax debt, and it’s all my fault. I was so busy try­ing to keep things go­ing in my fam­ily that I was work­ing hard but not pay­ing at­ten­tion to my taxes. I hadn’t filed for a few years, and now the IRS is all over me. They have threat­ened to gar­nish my wages if I don’t file ev­ery­thing by a cer­tain date. I feel par­a­lyzed with fear about this, but I don’t have time for that. I have to get mov­ing and com­plete my taxes. What can I do to get started? -- Tax Fear DEAR TAX FEAR: You ab­so­lutely must talk to the IRS as you work to ful­fill their re­quire­ments. They will work with you if you stay in touch with them. Gar­nish­ing wages hap­pens when tax­pay­ers avoid com­mu­ni­cat­ing and mak­ing a plan with the IRS.

Get an ac­coun­tant who can help you file your back taxes. Your ac­coun­tant can get on the phone with you to talk to the IRS about ex­actly what you need to do and how to get it ac­com­plished. Stay in close touch with them so that they know you are fol­low­ing di­rec­tions. Go to a lo­cal IRS of­fice, if needed, and es­tab­lish a rap­port with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive who can help you sort through your chal­lenges.

Be clear that the time for hiding is over. Many peo­ple have had their wages gar­nished and even gone to jail for evad­ing taxes. Do not be­come one of them.

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