Going For Broke

Going For Broke
Dr. Phil talks to couples facing financial dire straits.
Jessica and Nate

After filing for bankruptcy a few months ago, Nate fears his wife's "materialistic ways" will cost them everything, including their marriage! Nate wants Jessica to stop her excessive spending and get real about how much money they really have.

"Nate is a mechanic," explains Jessica. "I find myself looking at him and wondering why he can't find a better job and make more money. I like to look nice and be able to have nice clothes, nice purses and a nice car. I like to wear designer clothes because it makes me feel better about myself.

Jessica admits that since their bankruptcy, she has spent $420 on designer jeans, $250 on a designer purse and $200 on a flat-screen television. "I resent Nate for not making enough money," she says.
Nate: Jessica thinks the bankruptcy was my fault. In her eyes, I feel I never am good enough ... She had two or three of her own credit cards that I was never aware of. It's a stab in the back. I feel worthless and angry that she's not happy with what I do.

Dr. Phil: So you guys are four months out of bankruptcy and you didn't change your bills much ... When people come to me with money problems, I tell them that you don't solve money problems with money. [Jessica's] theory is that Nate needs to get a better job and make more money. How much is enough?

Jessica: I don't know if there will ever be enough.
Jessica explains that growing up, her dad owned his own business and the family was well provided for.

"Somehow we get this idea that we're supposed to start off with the same standard of living as our parents when we start out on our own," says Dr. Phil. "They worked for 30 years to create that standard and we think we're entitled to that ... I understand you were spoiled ... but this is a new day."

Dr. Phil continues, "You're not going to borrow your way out of debt or borrow your way to better self-esteem. Your theory has been that your husband needs to make more money so you can buy more things. You've misdiagnosed the situation. The question you need to be asking yourself is why you feel you need to prop yourself up with things so that you feel OK?"
Jeff and Amy
After Jeff lost his job 15 months ago, his wife Amy never thought their situation would get so desperate that her husband would end up handing out his resume on a street corner. With only $52 left in the bank, Amy and Jeff turn to Dr. Phil for help.

Amy: The money ran out very fast. We were $40,000 in debt. We took a drastic step. We decided to sell the house and everything that was in it. It broke my heart to sell the kids' toys. My sister and her husband invited us to come [live with them] in Austin. We have our four kids living in my niece's bedroom.

Jeff: We didn't want to declare bankruptcy. We wanted to pay our bills. In an effort to get a job, I came up with "Dude on the Corner." I decided to make a portable office on a trailer. I'm actually out there looking for jobs on the street corner ... I still don't have a job. I was receiving unemployment and we just received our last check.
Amy says that she "panicked and sold the house" when she couldn't get another credit card because the rest of her credit cards were maxed out from paying bills with them. "We chose to pay our bills instead of declaring bankruptcy," says Amy.

Jeff and Amy have now been living with Amy's sister for five weeks. All they own now is their car, Jeff's laptop computer, and each member of the family has eight items of clothing.

Jeff says that he turned down a job mowing lawns and admits that he has never given his resume to a corporate headhunter.

Looking at Jeff's resume, Dr. Phil declares, "This is the worst-looking resume I've ever seen. People look at resumes and make a decision in 10 seconds."
Dr. Phil introduces Jeff to Tony Beshara, a corporate recruiter with Babich & Associates in Dallas, who also looked at Jeff's resume.

Tony explains that next to the death of an immediate family member or divorce, looking for a job is one of the most emotional things a person can go through. "If you've been out of work six or seven months, people hit an emotional wall and don't know how to go about doing it," Tony tells Jeff. "The strategy you've been using is all wrong. On your resume, you sell yourself as a programmer. You don't have a lot of experience as a programmer. You spent 11 years as an accountant. You need to be looking for a job as an accountant."

Dr. Phil tells Jeff that Tony has promised to work with him and help him find a job. Jeff and his wife Amy gratefully accept the offer.
Matthew and Windy

Married for over seven years, Matthew and Windy have $5 left in their savings account and can't pay their bills. Windy says she is fed up with her husband spending his entire paycheck the very same day he gets it on things like video games and DVDs.

Matthew: There's a saying, "He who dies with the most toys, wins." I want to win the game. I don't think what I'm doing is all that bad.

Windy: Once every two or three months we will put off paying the power long enough for them to disconnect it. Then it'll be the phone. Matthew never consults me when he buys things and that hurts really bad. I did not know he bought a TV until it was delivered. My biggest fear is not having a place to live and not having a roof over our head.
Dr. Phil [to Matthew]: While watching that taped piece, you were saying something to your wife. What were you saying?

Matthew: It looks really bad when you see it from this side.

Dr. Phil: What have you learned from what we've talked about so far on the show?

Windy: It can get a lot worse.

Matthew: I learned we're very blessed to be in the situation we're in. We should take advantage of the fact that we have ample money coming in to pay our bills as well as save and get ahead.
Dr. Phil: At the beginning of the show, I was talking to Jessica about her going out and spending money in order to feel better. How did that fit in your ear?

Matthew: That was great ... because it was about her.

Matthew laughs at his hesitancy to talk about his own spending. The audience laughs with him.

Dr. Phil:
Did you see any similarities there? Do you think you have anything in common with her?

Matthew: I do, very much so. My true weakness is my children. I repeatedly spend money I shouldn't on them. I want them to have everything they want to the point that I'll put off paying a bill.

Windy tells Dr. Phil that she wants Matthew to have a plan for his paycheck. Dr. Phil then advises the couple to conduct a financial fire drill.