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Your Money: Don't become dependent on government assistance

Dave Ramsey: When government assistance is necessary, it's OK to take advantage of the programs that exist, but be careful and don't become dependent.
BY DAVE RAMSEY Published: January 28, 2013
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DEAR DAVE: I'm a single mom with three young children. I quit my nursing job a few years ago to be a stay-at-home mom, and one year later my husband filed for divorce. The state isn't keeping him accountable for child support, but now I qualify for food stamps. Do you feel it's morally wrong to be on government assistance?

Rebecca

DEAR REBECCA: There's nothing morally wrong with receiving food stamps, as long as you're not lying about your income or situation in order to receive them. The biggest problem with food stamps, and other forms of government assistance, is many times a person becomes dependent on someone else to take care of them. I don't want you and your kids to develop a victim mentality and become trapped in a cycle of substandard living.

You said you were a nurse before you came home to be with the kids, right? I'd suggest updating your nursing certification, if necessary, and going back to work in your field — maybe even as an emergency room nurse. I know the hours can be weird, but the pay is great. It would really get your income rolling again, plus you could afford to pay someone to look after the kids when necessary.

You've been through a lot, Rebecca. Life has knocked you around lately, so it's OK if you need to take food stamps for a little while. But I'd encourage you to start thinking from a long-term perspective as to what it'll take to move forward and generate a good, livable income for you and your kids. Get into attack mode, take your nursing degree, intelligence and experience, and create a quality life for your family. I know you can do it!

Not feeling the love

DEAR DAVE: I made a huge mistake and allowed my sister to use my credit card. She said she'd pay back what she charged, but now she won't pay the bill. The total was $5,500. Do you have any advice?

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