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Vigeland: Now it’s time to let some of you do the talking. We got a pile of responses to our segment on a couple who found themselves under a pile of debt. Kandy and Russell Hildebrandt climbed out of a $100,000 hole in just four-and-a-half years. We billed it as a story of redemption. Richard Herrell of Washington D.C. had a slightly different reaction. He writes:
“That item about the Hildebrandts as heroes is insulting. Getting into debt was their own fault. I decided to get a Ph.D. and ended up in the green. I knew how to live cheap and work hard. The Hildebrandts clearly could not.”
A few of you also took Kandy to task for staying home to take care of her three children, instead of working. In her spare time, I guess.
But Christine Quane of Milford, Mich., found inspiration in the tale:
Christine Quane: In order to truly know what you are made of, sometimes you have to fail wholly and completely. This couple persevered, persisted and overcame, and in the end acquired wisdom, self-worth and a stronger marital bond. They didn’t ask for a bailout, they didn’t ask for family to fix the problem. They dug deep, became resourceful, worked together, and got the job done. I applaud the Hildebrants.
Credit cards were the downfall of the Hildebrandts. And it wasn’t just the interest rates and fees. It was the little plastic rectangle itself. That’s according to Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Zweig. We talked with him recently about our brains on money. He said studies show the ease of using a credit card actually causes us to spend more. Have to write a check? Well, that’s a lot more time to consider the funds you’re forking over.
Corina Dlugosz of Glendale, Ariz., says checks help keep her family on a recession budget.
Corina Dlugosz: Now that our finances are tighter, we have paid much more in overdraft fees this year with unexpected auto drafts coming through and forgotten pre-scheduled payments. We have canceled most of them and now write checks for nearly every bill, so we can keep better track of things. We take out cash for leisure, groceries and gas and put them in envelopes every week. Once the money is gone, it’s gone.
Freelance workers of the world, take note of that advice. Tory Johnson of Women for Hire joined us a couple of weeks ago with some advice to free agents — this time on how to get paid for their work.
But Megan Hyre of New Haven, Conn., thought Johnson missed the most important point.
Meg Hyre: No freelancer should ever work without a contract or letter of agreement that includes a description of the work, the schedule and the payment arrangements. If I had to give my fellow freelancers one piece of advice for all time, this would be it. Never, never, never, never work without a contract. Never.
Although we wish we never, never, ever made mistakes, sometimes one slips by us. In a recent discussion about zombie stocks, we said a stock symbol ending in Q meant the company was going through bankruptcy. While that is true, there’s a decidedly healthy company that also sports a Q at the end of its symbol. That’s tech giant Hewlett Packard, which merged with Compaq a few years ago, to form HPQ. Zombie they are not.
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