Q. I live in Los Angeles, and my daughter makes $3,000 to $5,000 a month modeling. I don’t want her to become spoiled by this job and the income, and I need advice on what to do with the money. Should it be put aside for a car, and do you think she should have to pay for something like that herself?
A. So how do we keep a high-income, high-profile job from ruining this little girl? I think a lot of it has to do with her interaction with you and how you gently mold her work ethic and attitude. Don’t let her become a diva.
She’s not there to be fawned over or placed on a pedestal. She’s there to serve. That means working hard and doing the best she can. That’s her job whether she’s flipping burgers or making $5,000 a month modeling. The money’s nice, but what we’re really doing is making sure she learns some important life lessons. And you’re still being a parent, not a friend or peer, through every moment.
When it comes to the money, you guys should sit down and discuss some goals for the future. I think it’s important that any car purchase be reasonable, because the best thing a kid this age could do with that kind of money is save up for college.
Even if she goes to school on a full scholarship, she should be driving something low-key. Just because she gets a free ride in college doesn’t mean she gets to cruise the streets in a Lamborghini. Set the rest of it aside for when life really begins – after college.
As her mom, it’s very important you teach her these lessons now. It’s essential, too, that you don’t surrender the position of parent, teacher and leader. Chances are when this young lady is 34, no one will give a flip that she modeled for a while as a teenager. The most important things here are the lessons taught and learned, not the money.
Q. My husband and I have about $60,000 in federally insured student loans. Can our wages be garnished if we’re paying less than the actual payment amount? If so, how far behind do we have to be for that to happen?
A. To the best of my knowledge there’s no set formula for making this determination. In counseling people, we find some folks who are two years behind making payments before anything is done, while others are flagged at just a couple of months. In reality, they can garnish you immediately if you’re paying less than the agreed-upon amount. But in most cases they won’t mess with you as long as there’s reasonable activity on the account.
The thing most people don’t realize about student loans is that a lawyer doesn’t have to be involved for them to garnish your wages. It’s a lot like the IRS in that they don’t have to sue you in order to take your wages. Congress gave them that power because it’s a federally insured loan. And in my mind, that’s way too much power.
If you’re having trouble making your payments, don’t just throw up your hands and default. Talk to them about a deferral, and keep sending them whatever you can. It’s always better to be proactive than reactive in situations like these. Let them know you want to make good on your obligation, and ask what you can do to make this happen under terms you can afford.