Dear Dave,

We’re debt-free including our home. My husband is a man of faith but a bit of a dreamer. He has written several inspirational books that haven’t sold, but he feels this and public speaking are his calling. He wants us to sell the house and live on the proceeds for a year while he pursues this dream. What do you think of the idea?

— Christy

Dear Christy,

It sounds to me like your husband has a good heart, but I think it would be a huge mistake for you guys to sell your home when he hasn’t proven that he can sell anything he writes or says. I understand where his head is at right now. He wants to help people, and that’s a noble cause. But being a motivational writer and speaker can be an addictive thing. For some folks, signing books and being on stage are almost a high; they can make you feel alive. But the whole idea can draw you into the land of financial stupidity if you’re not careful.

My advice would be for him to keep his day job and work his tail off nights and weekends to try and make this dream a reality. Let’s draw up an Internet strategy to get some exposure for the books he has already written. He could contact local civic groups and offer his services as a speaker for their meetings, too. In the process, he might sell a few books from a table in the back of the room, and I know he’d get lots of valuable experience while building his name.

It may take longer than he’d like, but that’s a much better idea than the one he has now. It allows him to work toward a goal and not put his family in financial danger. Then, once he’s making a nice income on the side from writing and speaking engagements, you guys can look at the numbers and see if it’s feasible for him to dive in on a full-time basis.

— Dave

Dear Dave,

I have a debt with a collection agency, and they have started calling my office. Last week, I made an agreement for monthly payments along with an initial payment. All of a sudden, they were calling me again this morning at my office. Can I legally demand that they not call me at my place of employment?

— Joelle

Dear Joelle,

Yes, you can. I’m glad you’re keeping in mind that you have a legal and moral obligation to pay your debts. But collectors also have rules they must follow. They’re governed by law just like everyone else.

If they call you at work again, simply remind them of the terms of the payment agreement already in place and demand that they never call you at your office again. Also, send them a certified letter, return receipt requested, so that you’ll have proof you sent the letter and they received it. In the letter, let them know that according to guidelines set forth in the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you are formally demanding that they not call you at your office again.

If they call you at your office after you demand that they stop, they’ll be in violation of federal law. And if that happens, let them know that you’ll be talking to a lawyer and you will sue them.

— Dave

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