Dear Uncle Mat

My job is eating my soul. I have a fair amount of debt, and I feel stuck in what I’m doing because although I don’t make much money, I have no qualifications to do anything else. The amount of stress and lack of sleep is causing me a variety of health issues, and I’m concerned about the potential effects on my relationship with my boyfriend, as the last job I held with this position destroyed my marriage.

I work 50-plus hours a week in a physically demanding job only to make about $30,000/year. In addition to current debts incurred after my recent layoff, I have old debts accrued during my marriage. It’s a daily battle just to keep food on the table and gas in the car. I’m not cut out for this line of work. I’m a very spiritual and creative person, but my job doesn’t afford me the time or energy. It’s been years since I’ve been able to have a hobby. I miss myself!

I recently started taking classes toward a career change, but for the next year until I gain my license, this will only be adding more pressure to my financial and time-management situations. I want to do something else ASAP, but I haven’t had any jobs except in my current field for the past six years, and I can’t afford to go without medical insurance or to take home any less than $450 a week. I can’t think of anything else that will make me that much money with my qualifications that isn’t either disgusting, illegal, or both! I’m a little rough around the edges — I can do a good impression of a lady, but only if I don’t have to talk very much, so I don’t know how well I would do at office work or customer service.

My new man has been so understanding and helpful to me despite my being a total stress case, but I can’t help but fear that it will eventually push him away. We don’t live together yet, but are planning to move in when our leases are up. We spend every night together, but work opposite schedules and rarely have a full day to hang out without one of us having to run off to class or work. We console ourselves with the idea that we need to be so busy right now because we are building something better for ourselves in the future, that this is all going to pay off in a few years when we have the time and money to start a family.

What, besides sucking it up and staying in my current job just to pay the bills, do you think I could do for a job until I finish school? And what can I do to alleviate some of the stress from myself and my relationship? I appreciate you reading my letter, and any feedback you may have. Look forward to hearing from ya :)

— Wanting a Life

Dear Wanting,

You have serious issues with managing your finances. Your debt is both a tangible problem that must be addressed, and an emotional burden that affects your daily activities and relationships. Find the time to seek some financial and debt-management counseling. You can try or a commercial advisor of your choosing, or both. Seeking the support and guidance of others will help you not only start to make a plan to bring your debt under control, but will teach you ways to manage it in your daily life.

This is a tough time to be looking for work. I wish I knew an easier way out. I recommend reading the classifieds, at least weekly, even in the sections you assume you aren’t qualified for. There are plenty of positions out there in different industries that a bright, educated, driven, and confident person like yourself is more than qualified to apply for. Even if you don’t find a new job, the search itself can feel like a way out. Hope is good, and you might surprise yourself.

Try to take care of yourself and accept the love and support your relationship provides. Don’t think about what you can’t do; focus on what you have going for you. Take your creativity and spirituality with you to work. They are yours to use in every aspect of your life. As my role model Mary Poppins sings, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

Much love, perseverance, and patience,

Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at [email protected],, or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.