DEAR HARRIETTE: I am up for a new job that would be an amazing opportunity for me and my family. I just learned that if I make it to the final round, the company will want to check my credit report. In terms of work, I have excellent skills. In terms of money, I am a disaster.
I got divorced a few years ago, and my ex doesn't pay for any of the bills he agreed to pay. That includes my son's college education, the mortgage that we both share or any of our shared credit card debt. I can't swing it by myself. I have taken him to court, but he still doesn't pay. I am afraid that I won't get the job when they see the wreck of my credit. Do you think I should tell them why it is like that and that I am working hard to pay off my debt? -- Bad Credit, Pittsburgh
DEAR BAD CREDIT: You should prepare a clear, honest and transparent statement to tell your potential employer. When they ask to review your credit, let them know that your credit is suffering right now and why. By getting in front of it, you give context to whatever the number is. You will need to demonstrate a commitment to mending your credit. You may have to explain your plan to them. If they like you enough, they may forgive you based on the circumstances.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage children are out of control with their cellphones. I feel like they are attached to them from the moment they wake up -- around 6 a.m. -- until the moment they go to bed. I hardly see their eyes because their heads are looking down into that little screen. I want to set some boundaries for cellphone usage. I know they don't want to hear this, but I don't want to go along with this new trend. -- Out of Bounds, Atlanta
DEAR OUT OF BOUNDS: The constant use of cellphones has reached epidemic proportions these days, so much so that lawsuits have cropped up against tech companies. "We want our lives and families back" is a rallying cry.
Of course you can set limits, even though your children will be angry. Keep a basket at the front door. When your children arrive home, have them put their phones in the basket. Phones can stay there until all homework is finished. If they have chores, those must be completed before getting the phones back. Give them a short window for using their phones in the evening, but do not allow them to keep the phones in their bedrooms. Do not allow any phones at dinner. Have all chargers in a common area, like the kitchen. If they sneak and use their phones at night, move the chargers to your bedroom, where you can oversee them.
An exception may be when they have to study with friends. Be aware that computers can turn into phones, so monitor their computer use as well.