Debt Denial?/Mama's Boy Moocher

December 26, 2013
Jules says she went from living the high life to drowning in debt when her husband filed for divorce — and she blames him for her financial crisis. And, Steven is 28 years old, but he’s unemployed and still living at home, on his parents’ dime. Are Jules and Steven ready to take charge of their lives?







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JulesBarney, Jules' boyfriendAuthor Larry WingetStevenVicky, Steven's motherVince, Steven's fatherKevin, Steven's brother

From Riches to Rags?

Jules says she was living the high life without a worry in the world — but everything changed after her husband filed for divorce and later, for bankruptcy. Jules says she’s now unemployed, in debt and facing eviction — and claims she's not receiving a dime from her ex. She insists that she only wants what’s “fair” for herself and her kids — but are her expectations too high?
 

“My husband always said, ‘Always buy the best; always get the best.’”

Jules says she struggled to get by with the amount of money she was awarded by a judge — $14,335 a month for child support and alimony — but says her ex has stopped paying her, and she now finds herself more than half a million dollars in debt. Jules says she owes accountants, attorneys, credit cards and family members who have loaned her money. She says she’s tried to make money by selling some of her jewelry, but can't part with all of it. “Why should I have to sell everything that was gifted to me? It’s beyond unfair,” she says.

Jules says she’s frustrated that she can’t do the same activities with her kids that they used to enjoy. “I feel like it’s my husband’s fault that I’m in debt. I gave up my job to raise my kids. That is my job, and I should be able to keep doing what I was doing. I deserve to have a home and not worry about rent, and I deserve to stay home with my children, and be there for them and be the parent I always was,” she says.

Jules joins Dr. Phil and tells him that she believes their house should’ve been sold, giving her half the assets. “He was allowed to keep everything,” she says. Now that her ex has filed for bankruptcy, she says she's not sure she'll get any more money. “I, quite honestly, thought by now that the judicial system would’ve worked,” she says.

“Are you focusing on the injustice of your situation or the reality of your situation?” Dr. Phil asks.

“The reality is I’ve been looking for work. I’ve sent out a lot of résumés online,” Jules says. She explains that she’s unskilled, having been out of the workforce for 20 years and is competing against a much younger, college-educated market. Jules says she’s worked a few temporary and sporadic jobs but says even if she got a full-time job, “I can’t afford to live where I’ve raised my children.” When asked what her question is for Dr. Phil, she says, “How do I make it fair for me?”

“I’ve been poor. When you’re poor, you learn to live with reality, not what’s fair. It is what it is. And if you spend all your time looking over shoulder at what should be, what’s fair, then you never deal with the reality of what is,” Dr. Phil says.

Jules says she can't even support herself enough to stay in the same town that her children go to school in.
 

The "Pit Bull of Personal Development"

Dr. Phil enlists the help of Larry Winget, author of Grow a Pair: How to Stop Being a Victim and Take Back Your Life, Your Business, and Your Sanity, to give Jules some tough advice about downsizing and supporting herself.

“You would have to earn $492,000 a year to be able to live the way you think you deserve to be able to live.”

Mama’s Boy?

Steven, 28, is unemployed, in debt and in no rush to leave home. He says his parents, Vince and Vicky, pay all the bills, and his mom cooks, does his laundry — and even powders him after he showers.

“I am who I am. I shouldn’t strive to be someone I’m not.”

See Larry’s house call to meet Steven. What does he say is Steven’s biggest obstacle to becoming a productive adult?

Dr. Phil summarizes Steven’s home situation: “Mom cooks for him, mom does his laundry, mom reminds him to brush his teeth, mom reminds him to shower, mom powders him after the shower. You have a housekeeper that cleans his room. His parents pay all the bills of the house. They pay for food. He goes and borrows money from payday loan places; his parents pay those off. They pay his cell phone bill. His parents let him sleep in. They let him watch TV and surf the Web all day. They don’t require him to get a job,” he says. He asks Steven, “Why did you not leave?”

“I guess I’ve never really grown up and had the willpower to move out,” he says.

“And I wonder why,” Dr. Phil says, looking to Vicky.
 

Dr. Phil explains how Vicky and Vince are crippling their son.

Larry says when he met with their son, Steven admitted that he doesn’t do anything all day, except for taking one online class. “Fifteen hours a day, he watches television and does two hours worth of homework. That’s it,” he says.

Vince says they do talk with Steven about getting a job and keeping active, but nothing has inspired him.

“Where will he be at 38 if something doesn’t change?” Dr. Phil asks Vince and Vicky.

Living at Home for Free — and In Debt

Steven says he had a job for six years, and often loaned money to a female coworker — from $20 to $300 once or twice a week. He also got payday loans to give her money, and when he got in over his head, his parents had to pay those loans off. “I owe my parents over $8,000, and I owe the loan company close to $1,200,” Steven says.

“I had to use my parents’ inheritance money to keep Steven out of trouble. That money was my retirement,” Vince says.

Vince says he told his son that if he gets another payday loan, he’d better pack up his stuff and move out. Vicky admits it’s a thinly-veiled threat, because they’d never really kick him out.

Dr. Phil asks Steven. “You don’t want to live by yourself, do you?”

“Yes and no,” he says. “I do because being able to be independent and knowing I have my own place [would be nice], but I don’t because I’m comfortable at home.”

“And as long as you continue to have that soft place to fall, you’re going to continue to fall there, aren’t you?” Dr. Phil asks.

“More than likely, yes,” he says.

Vicky says she didn’t think she was enabling her son but now she realizes she must be.

Dr. Phil offers Steven a professional intervention to turn his life around. Will his parents support or sabotage his progress?