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Tess Vigeland: Now to the opposite of junk mail -- mail from you, dear listener! And for that, we welcome our mail lady, who also happens to be our senior producer, Deb Clark. Hi Deb.
Deborah Clark: Hi Tess.
Vigeland: You know I really don't need you anymore.
Clark: What? That's outrageous.
Vigeland: Well as you know I'm on Facebook.
Vigeland: So everybody friend me, and give your comments there. And guess what else I'm doing now?
Clark: I shudder to think.
Vigeland: Tweet! Tweet!
Clark: Are you an Angry Bird?
Vigeland: No -- though I'm addicted to that game -- I am an @radiotess bird. So please follow me @radiotess. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. What's up in mail land?
Clark: Well let me start with a question for you. How was your holiday party last weekend?
Vigeland: Oh it was lovely, thank you. I'm sorry you couldn't make it.
Clark: Yeah me too, I was out on vacation. So when I heard the show over the weekend, I was relieved that I had actually RSVP'd to tell you that I wasn't going to be there.
Vigeland: Yes, we did an interview with Prudy over at Slate.com asking why people don't repondez, s'il vous plait. It's just so rude.
Clark: Sometimes we're forgetful there but for the grace and all that. Anyway, many people wrote in about this interview, including Vicki Lisman from Aurora, Co.
Vicki Lisman: I was a working mother since 1968, and a full-time job and a husband, and I never found it a difficulty to respond to people's invitations. I do think as time has gone on, people just seem to have less regard for others around these issues. Overall, I just think it's a sad commentary on our society.
Vigeland: I agree. But I wonder how many people here at work heard the piece?
Clark: I wonder too. Maybe you'll get fewer ignored invites next year. Meantime, another hot topic from a couple of weeks ago was our commentary with a tip on how to retire early.
Vigeland: Right, I believe the solution was don't have kids.
Clark: Yes, quite controversial, no surprise there, I guess. One slightly facetious suggestion came from Juan Blasquez in Milwaukee who said he agreed, and "I also think you can eat nothing but ramen noodles and water for 40 years. Also, maybe never date anybody because during a special occasion you might have to spend money on a gift."
Vigeland: Sarcastic, much?
Clark: Yes, but quite a few people agreed with the commentary too, including Margaret Parkes from Ontario, Canada.
Margaret Parkes: When we were newlywed in the mid-1970s, we were looking into financial planning, and one of the articles we read, it had some calculations about the costs of raising a child. And this influenced us to decide to go child-less by choice. Eventually I retired at age 52, and my husband at 60.
Clark: So, Tess, I wanted to end on something a little different. Not really a reaction to a specific story, but more a reflection of what things are like in this country now two years into the recession. We got a thoughtful letter from Nicholas Whitman from Williamstown, Mass. He says he has enjoyed the show, knows the advice is well meaning and accurate.
Vigeland: You're leaving room for a 'but' here.
Clark: I might be. Listen for yourself:
Nicholas Whitman: I know I'm supposed to pay down my credit card debt and max out my 401(k) contributions. Stop nagging and please understand that economic reality has its own dictates, like day-to-day survival. I'm a self-employed photographer and have been '86. Between the digital revolution and the recession, my profession has been decimated. I'm not whining or asking for advice, but that's just the way it is.
Vigeland: I have to ask you, senior producer, what exactly will we be advising listeners about if not debt-reduction and retirement planning?
Clark: Well, look, it's all good advice, but I think this is more about how tough things are out there and have been for a while.
Vigeland: Thanks Deb.
Clark: Thanks Tess.