Return to Transcripts main page
Digging Out Of Debt; Missing American Robyn Gardner
Aired August 22, 2011 - 21:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
What did the new search in Aruba reveal?
And she`s back. Casey`s in Florida. Oh, good times. Can`t wait to hear what you think about that.
Then, money, the financial and emotional cost of debt. We`re here to help.
Let`s go figure it out.
And tonight, the search for missing American Robyn Gardner. So many questions surround the disappearance of the American beauty who vanished in Aruba almost three weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are tracking every development concerning missing American Robyn Gardner. Well, today investigators are launching what they call a specific search.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Correctional Institute of Aruba, that is where Gary Giordano is right now. This search taking place ironically within sight of that facility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crime suspect Gary Giordano, authorities have called him "belligerent."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meanwhile, there`s a new bombshell this morning. There`s a new witness who`s come forward who could tear his story apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That prime suspect, traveling companion Gary Giordano. So far, here`s what we know.
According to "People" magazine, we know that Gary Giordano had no pornographic photos of Robyn on his camera. We know that restaurant workers have said that Robyn looked dazed and confused while she was having lunch with Giordano on the day she vanished. And Giordano took out a $1.5 million travel insurance policy on Robyn Gardner. And get this -- he apparently tried to cash in on it two days after Robyn went missing.
Giordano is being held in an Aruba prison and is uncooperative and belligerent with police, allegedly.
Now, are law enforcement officers looking for Robyn Gardner or just her body? Could the suspect be convicted without the body?
Joining me tonight are Richard Forester, Robyn`s boyfriend. Also here, criminal profiler Pat Brown. And in Aruba, CNN correspondent Martin Savidge.
Martin, to you first. The search for Robyn is on again. What can you tell us about what`s up now?
SAVIDGE: Well, Dr. Drew, the active search for Robyn Gardner actually came to an end on August 6th. But since that time now, they have had two what they call site-specific searches. And that`s what took place today in the southernmost portion of the island in an area that`s known as Seroe Colorado. And it is ironically in an area that runs right past where the prison that Gary Giordano is currently being detained in, right up to the walls of that facility.
It was a search that spread for about five miles, had about 45 to 50 people involved, police officers, police cadets, Red Cross workers, firefighters. In some cases, firefighters lowered themselves into abandoned wells that were dry looking to see if they found any evidence down there.
Difficult terrain, very different than what most tourists see. It`s very rocky, it`s rugged. It`s lots of cactus with thorns that are at least an inch thick. It is not a nice place to go, and it was not nice especially given the tremendous heat today.
For those teams, it was a very difficult and hard search. And unfortunately, a frustrating one. They did not find anything, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: But, Martin, it looks to me like they have something on their mind, like they really have a very specific set of goals in mind as they look at a very specified area, and that they really blanket it this way.
I want to take a look at this map of so-called Baby Beach, Aruba. This lagoon is apparently now manmade.
Gary Giordano says the current in this Baby Beach -- remember, it`s called Baby Beach because it`s so quiet. There`s no current, because babies can swim there. But he says the current was so strong, it was pulling them out to sea, so he tapped Robyn`s leg and swam back to shore before realizing she wasn`t with him.
Now, Martin, this new search today is away from Baby Beach, is it not?
SAVIDGE: It is. And the thinking is, apparently, that several times, they saw the vehicle that Gary Giordano had rented while they were down here on vacation move. Come into frame, go out of frame, of the security camera down by the dive shop and down by the restaurant where they had been eating.
So they believe it left. Where it exactly went, I don`t know if investigators know, but maybe Gary has given them some indication in the conversation when he was talking to authorities, maybe they have another means of tracking, such as cell phones as a common way.
So, was it possible that they were looking in this area, which is a couple of miles away from Baby Beach, thinking that, all right, if something had happened to Robyn -- and we`re talking about something beyond an accident - - if he wanted to try and dispose of her body someplace, that might be an area? It`s far away from most prying eyes, it`s an area where not too many tourists go, and there is a lot of scrub and a lot of area where you could put somebody and it would be very difficult to find them.
PINSKY: I see. So they were specifically looking for a body there.
Now, if I remember, last week we were talking about an area near the restaurant where they had lunch. Was that another area of interest for them, still? Or have they abandoned that?
SAVIDGE: Well, the problem they have with that specific area is the story itself that Gary says, the fact that he said that it was rough, the currents were strong. Law enforcement says they went back and checked the meteorological records for that day. They said it was not rough, the currents were not strong. So this is where they initially saw the problems with his story.
They also say that no one -- few people ever go snorkeling in that spot that he chose. It is just so unlike the areas that most people choose on either side.
So they really have a difficult time. And then, on top of that, they have not found a single witness that has seen the couple in the water there snorkeling. And that`s a major thing.
Some witnesses have come forward to say yes, we saw the couple on that day walking. But there has been no one that has placed them in the water doing what Gary Giordano says they were doing when she vanished.
PINSKY: Richard, I`m going to go to you. Thank you for joining me again.
And thank you, Martin, by the way.
Richard, you`ve said to us that Robyn was not someone that even put her head under water. Do any of these stories that they`re chasing make any sense to you? Can you piece it together in some way?
ROBERT FORESTER, ROBYN GARDNER`S BOYFRIEND: Well, you know, I don`t know much about just other than what I hear, that there was a witness that said they didn`t see them go in the water. I don`t know if that`s credible or not. I hope so.
But even so, I mean, I know she doesn`t go the water. She`s got extensions that`s in with glue. She`s not going to go in. I just know this from knowing her and what I`ve heard. She`s not going into the saltwater with that.
PINSKY: Right. So not only is she not going into a rough area, she`s not putting her head under, period.
PINSKY: Let me ask you this -- have you had a chance to talk with Robyn`s mother or anyone in their family? How are they doing?
FORESTER: You know, we`re all in contact with each other. We`re all very supportive of each other.
They`ve chosen to stay out of the media, so I respect those wishes, and so does everybody else. But we`re all in touch and very supportive.
PINSKY: Are they doing OK?
FORESTER: You know, as OK as OK can be. You know, just like any of us that are close to Robyn, it`s certainly the most difficult thing I`ve ever dealt with in my life. And of course, speaking for them, I can`t imagine anything worse. That`s their daughter.
FORESTER: The whole point here is to find her, to bring her home safe. Every day I`m optimistic and hopeful that they find her, and they find her alive. And I hope that there`s going to be a huge story run. You know, Robyn, myself, her family and friends all reuniting. That`s the dream.
PINSKY: I can certainly appreciate that, Richard.
Pat, to you. We`ve got less than one minute left.
And, of course, my panel will stay with me after the break.
How do you summarize all this? How do we make sense of this? Does this fit some sort of pattern for you?
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, that I`m seeing here is they`re looking for two crime scenes, because I don`t believe this was premeditated over that insurance policy or he would have drowned Robyn. I mean, it`s pretty easy just to pull somebody out of the water and say they drowned. So that didn`t happen.
So I think they`re looking for two. He left that restaurant, she was woozy, something was wrong. And two hours later, she`s gone.
So I believe he took her someplace, she did not cooperate with him, he became angry. So I think that`s crime scene one. And I think he drove further into the brush to try to get rid of her and came back and said she went missing.
PINSKY: And for you that sort of fits a profile? It makes sense?
BROWN: Absolutely. His violent nature, the fact that he wants to control people, that he wants what he wants, and if a woman doesn`t give it to him, he is going to get very, very upset.
And I think he was getting frustrated with her. She was frustrated with him, for sure. So I think at that point, something did go wrong right after they left the restaurant.
And then he looked for that place for maybe an hour. And that`s why they`re looking in that particular area, because they know he can only drive up so far and then he has to come back. So they know what area they`re looking in, but it`s still very, very difficult to find where he could have found a spot in there.
PINSKY: Thank you, Pat. Very interesting.
Coming up, what will it take for the suspect, Gary Giordano, to actually be formally charged? Does the body have to be found?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINA JONES, ROBYN GARDNER`S ROOMMATE: They were definitely friends, probably could have been more at one time. But as she got to learn about him, I know that things became rocky and she was kind of second-guessing herself about their friendship. But somehow that guy always kind of weaseled his way back in there with her where, one minute she wasn`t sure about him, and the next she`d say that it was OK, it`s OK to get on a plane and go to Aruba.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And tonight, missing in Aruba. Boy, this is starting to look a lot like the Natalee Holloway case, I`m sorry to say, all over again.
Was a mysterious crime committed once again on the tropical island of Aruba? A beautiful American blonde vanishes, no one has found a body. A witness at a bar said that Robyn seemed to be acting "woozy" while she was having lunch with Giordano the day she vanished. And according to Giordano, they then went snorkeling.
So who goes snorkeling if they`re out of it, dazed and confused? That doesn`t quite fit for me.
But back with us to discuss this, Robyn`s boyfriend, Richard Forester; criminal profiler Pat Brown; and in Aruba, CNN reporter Martin Savidge.
Martin, that beach area I guess is very close to the restaurant -- we were talking about that -- where Robyn was last scene. And remember, last week there was a report of a condom and a bloody handprint.
What`s being made of all this?
SAVIDGE: Well, the handprint and the condom are now being discounted by authorities. They say they never existed. They were not part of their investigation. So they`ve written those off. It is unfortunate, because if they had been real, they could have been significant clues to help try to solve what has happened to Robyn Gardner here.
That area is directly behind the restaurant. I mean, it`s as if you walked out the back door of the restaurant, then, boom. You would be just about in the area where they went snorkeling. So very close proximity here. And yet, you`ve got this kind of time frame.
We know last time they were seen, 4:00. And the next time we hear anything from them is, of course, Gary Giordano at 6:23 making the 911 call.
So it is a crucial timeline of what happened in that two hours and 23 minutes. And that`s why we know that there was a limited place. If something didn`t happen on the beach, if Gary or Robyn had an altercation someplace else, this is where they try to draw that timeline, around the island, and figure out, where could you go and then where could you return from in that kind of time frame? It really will come down to timing.
PINSKY: And I guess they`re trying to put those pieces together using video footage of the car, of the jeep? Is that right?
SAVIDGE: Right. There`s a lot of -- this is sort of a European style security system, I guess you could say. In other words, there are a great many closed-circuit television cameras all over this island.
And as a result of that, it is quite easy to follow the path of a person as they progress along at many of the stops they make. And that`s what they`ve been doing.
And then on top of that, they`ve been enlisting the public, people who have their own home security cameras, to review their systems to see if they happened to catch something, a vehicle going by, or maybe something in the distance that normally isn`t there, anything as they try to put this all call out on the island for people to step forward. And clearly, by the witnesses that are starting to come forward, this is helping to build the case.
But the legal experts say if all they`ve got is this insurance policy, if that`s their number one sticking point right now -- and that`s what it appears to be -- come the 31st, when Giordano goes before a judge again, it is unlikely the judge would order that he continue to be detained. They would have to have more than just perhaps a motive with the insurance.
PINSKY: Oh, that`s very interesting.
Now, here are some more details about what Giordano apparently told authorities the day Robyn went missing. Watch this clip from NBC`s "Today Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day Robyn went missing at the beach, Giordano said, he and Robyn woke up at the Marriott at 12:30 in the afternoon. They drank vodka and orange juice, and then left at 2:00 for a drive to the southernmost tip of the island, much of which is rugged and desert-like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Martin, are you hearing any reports that conflicts with his story?
PINSKY: Well, there are, of course, the accounts that he gives as far as what the weather conditions were like. The timeline that he gives seems to hold up, except for the two-and-a-half hours where they`re apparently out of public view of any cameras.
We already know that witnesses didn`t see them in the water. So what happened at that particular time?
And it does look suspicious, but simply because something looks suspicious, as we all know, is not a guarantee that Gary Giordano has done anything but perhaps tell the truth. Maybe this was an accident. Maybe somehow the body did go away.
I will point out that when he made that call at 6:23, by the time authorities arrived on the scene, that was 20 minutes later. That`s been documented. So we`re now at 6:40.
I`ve been out there almost every evening. It is dark by 7:15. Their window of opportunity to look for her was about 30 minutes at best.
The chances that they got helicopters up, boats in the water, and divers in just does not seem that they were able to do that. It would have been a very quick search. Then it got dark. The major effort came the next day.
PINSKY: Marty, thank you so much for this report. I know you`ve got to run.
Giordano took out travel insurance policies for himself and Gardner before their trip for $1.5 million each. The Aruban prosecutor has not said who the beneficiary was.
Listen to this from NBC`s "Today Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TACO STEIN, ARUBA SOLICITOR GENERAL: We are now in a position to say that, indeed, the insurance was for $1.5 million, which is quite a large amount. So it is one topic we will be pursuing further in the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Pat, I want to take that issue back to you. You had said earlier that you didn`t think that was an important bit of evidence. It sounds important to me.
BROWN: Well, Dr. Drew, I think the problem is with the mind of a psychopath. And my belief is Giordano is expressing that kind of behavior, so I`m guessing he might be one.
He`s got a very violent tendency toward women. He comes off as a sex predator, a sadistic sex predator. So his kind of mind, in my opinion, is, I`m taking this woman down to Aruba, she`s going to do what I want when I get there. Otherwise, why would I be taking her? And hey, I might as well take out some insurance on you. You never know what could happen.
So I think they have half-baked ideas. Now, if he had a full idea of what he was going to do, you would probably see her body in the water.
As I said before, it`s not that difficult to drown somebody. It`s one of the simplest things in the world. You just grab them by the foot and go like this, and they go under and they go like that, and they can`t get back up again. And there`s not a lot of signs of bruising or anything else. Very simple.
So then you could bring an extra snorkel along, toss her in the water, and bring a snorkel back and say, see what happened. And then you have to argue over whether it was an accident or not.
But because that didn`t happen, I just don`t believe that was the major issue that happened here. I think something did go wrong at that restaurant. After he took her from there, they went some place, he wanted to do something, she didn`t want to go along with it.
Now, I find it interesting that he`s given this little -- he said where he`s been on the island, this other remote area. What tends to happen, in my opinion, is he probably did go to that remote area. But my guess it was after they left the restaurant, because in case somebody says, oh, I saw him over there, he can say, oh, yes, that was earlier in the day, they`ve got their timing wrong.
PINSKY: Thank you, Pat.
Richard, I want to go to you.
We`re hearing Pat say that she believes this was probably a sexual assault. This is your girlfriend, this is somebody you love. What runs through your mind? How do you manage all this?
FORESTER: I just keep -- I try not to let that get in the forefront. The forefront is finding her.
That`s obviously going to affect me differently than most people, or other people, the rest of the people in the country or the world. And obviously that`s going to be disturbing. I mean, just put yourself in that position.
PINSKY: I know. And listen, I`ve not heard you talk about those feelings. And it`s got to make -- fury has got to be one of the feelings. And it would be perfectly fine if you went ahead and expressed that.
FORESTER: Well, believe me, that`s there. Yes, that`s there. You know, I`d love to have a few minutes with the guy myself. But the --
PINSKY: That sounds more like it.
FORESTER: Yes. The main focus is still, though, you know -- is to find her, and hopefully find her safely.
PINSKY: I get it. I get you.
FORESTER: Thank you.
PINSKY: Thank you to Pat and Richard for joining me.
Next, Casey Anthony`s back in town in Florida. And you guys all have lots to say about it. Your questions and comments, coming up.
And later, we`re going to talk about debt. You are not alone, guys. We are going to survive this together, and I`m going to help you.
Stay with us.
PINSKY: Well, Casey Anthony apparently has returned to Florida. Hooray. She has until noon Friday to report to a probation officer if an appeal fails regarding her check fraud case.
Now, when we posted this story, it prompted many of you to write in and ask questions and give us comments. So let`s begin with a Facebook question.
Carla asks, "Do you think that Casey serving probation could actually help her adjust back to society? Isn`t that the whole purpose?"
And yes, I think I`ve addressed that particular question on this segment a few times. You guys keep coming up with that one.
That is the point of probation, is to sort of help contain that person and get them -- come up against some structure, which definitely, definitely, Casey could use and would benefit from.
Pete, another Facebook question, asks, "Most of us think that Casey has a personality disorder. What do you normally recommend to help such a person?"
Well, that`s an interesting question. Some people might even argue that people with severe personality disorders, which Casey might have, are actually not treatable. The kinds of personality disorders that are discussed as it pertains to Casey sometimes responds to behavioral dialectrical behavioral therapy. There`s also very intensive therapies, personal therapies of various kinds.
But the fact is, for it to work, it takes a long time. We`re talking years, because personality disorders are highly entrenched patterns, and it takes a long time to correct them.
Again, I`ve seen no evidence that she`s moving in that direction. So whenever they talk about Casey getting treatment, to me it just doesn`t pass the sniff test.
Judy in Canada is on the phone.
Go ahead there, Judy.
JUDY, CANADA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Judy.
JUDY: I just wanted to say that Casey got away with murdering her little baby daughter with a pat on the rear end, and the judge told her -- well, the jury actually told her, don`t be a bad girl and stop doing that. So now she gets to go back to the way she was living. She gets to go back to drinking and partying. And she`s happy forever after in her life.
She`ll get married again and she`ll have more children. But what`s going to happen to those kids when they`re in her way?
PINSKY: Judy, I think that`s a comment that most of our viewers would agree with, except I will just sort of pile on and say -- and I find it interesting you`re calling from Canada, where I`d be curious to know what you feel about our justice system, having watched all this go down.
That being said, I`ll pile on by saying these people -- the leopards don`t change their spots. More will be heard from Casey Anthony, just as we heard from O.J. Simpson, if indeed she is who we think she is, somebody with real serious problems.
Michele has this to say: "Just because she was found not guilty of her daughter`s death, Casey should not have to pay for the court`s mishap. This will cause only more chaos."
You know, I don`t know if I agree with that. I don`t know if the majority of my viewers would agree with that, with taxpayers having to pay for this nonsense and then carry this burden. That`s the part that`s so deeply upsetting.
And that she has no burden to bear in it, I don`t know. I don`t think most people would agree with you.
And finally, Pam asks, "Casey has said she was seeking therapy. What kind of time frame are we looking at when treating someone with all the issues we think she has?"
And again, I`ll remind you, I sort of answered this question a few minutes ago when I was talking about the personality disorders. And when I say -- when they ask what kind of time frame, you`re talking years. Years and years, many times. And depending if she has an addiction problem, we`re talking about months and months of highly structured treatment as well, meaning, like, living somewhere.
Next, it may be the single biggest worry for tens of millions of Americans -- debt. How to manage your money mess, how to live with it and live through it. I`m going to tell you about that.
Stay with us.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Now, as we all know, the news on the economic front has not been good lately. People are out of work and having a tough time keeping the roofs over their heads. Now, in this country alone, the unemployment rate is over nine percent, which translates to over 14 million Americans out of work. Experts predict that 2011 will be the bleakest year yet for foreclosures. On top of that, the average credit card debt -- listen to this -- per household is over $15,000. That`s average per household. How are people coping? Watch this.
PINSKY (voice-over): We all have money anxiety these days with stock market payoffs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ferocious selloff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The market dropped more than 400 points.
PINSKY: Soaring unemployment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The job market not doing as well as expected.
PINSKY: And home foreclosures.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lot of foreclose homes on the market.
PINSKY: Americans are losing their homes, losing their jobs, and in many cases, losing hope. The financial crisis is taking its toll. Some are on the edge, others have already fallen off, and still others are digging deeper into debt. The ultimate price? People are killing themselves because they can`t pay their bills.
This month, a Maryland woman killed her 13-year-old son and then herself. Her last words, debt is bleeding me strangled by debt. And just last week, reality TV star, Russell Armstrong, took his own life amid reports of massive debt. What is going on? Are we living outside our means or is it outside our control? Is there anything we can do?
PINSKY (on-camera): As you just heard, some people are so desperately in debt that they end up taking their own lives. With me today are a few guests who are also in trouble financially, but are finding ways to work through their problems. Todd and Kathleen Cottle are joining us from Utah. They`re struggling to keep their home and pay their bills. Things have gotten so bad, they filed for chapter seven bankruptcy protection.
Atlanta viewers may recognize Paul Ossmann. He was WXIA`s weatherman for the last 13 years, and recently, he lost his job. In addition, Paul had to foreclose on his $900,000 home, and sadly, he is now separated from his wife. Like the Cottle, Paul has filed for chapter seven bankruptcy protection.
Also joining us to help figure this all out is Jennifer Westhoven, our HLN "Morning Express" money expert. Paul, I`m going to start with you. You were a successful TV personality. What went wrong? How`d you end up like this?
PAUL OSSMANN, FORMER TV WEATHERMAN: you know, there`s a lot of things that can contribute to it. I think one of the things was the lack of communication that I had with my wife. And I think that that really set the tone. I think once you don`t become involved in your own destiny and your goals and your own financial future, I think that really sets you up, and that`s -- that causes a lot of walls to be put up.
And also, she didn`t want to tell me exactly what was going on, because she was fearful how I would feel. And it was kind of a Catch 22. You don`t want to hear it, but at the same point, you need to hear it to make those corrections.
PINSKY: Is the money problems -- you know, we always say that in relationships, it`s money, sex, and children that people fight about.
PINSKY: Is the money problems what led to the rupture in your relationship?
OSSMANN: You know, it`s really hard. I think there`s other things that did that. It, certainly, I think, escalated the situation, but, I think that generally, that, you know, that I have to take the ultimate responsibility in that, because I did back away from it just because she was good at money and could handle those situations, I became disengaged with our financial future.
And once you do that, I think you really set yourself up for a fall. Now, that was just one of a few things. You had the foreclosure, you had the loss of job in the same month, and that just starts the snowball effect that really sets you into a little bit of a minor depression there. So, that`s kind of what was happening with me.
PINSKY: I can imagine. And yet, now, you seem to have pretty good attitude. How do you maintain that in the face of what you`re facing?
OSSMANN: Well, you know, it almost becomes what else could happen? And you look at other people, just from the e-mails that I`ve gotten from people knowing my situation, they`re saying to myself, you know what, I went through the same thing, or maybe, I know someone that went through the same thing.
So, I think by being transparent and my story getting out, I`m hoping that maybe some young couples out, maybe some couples out there will recognize that you have to be engaged in your financial future and what`s going on on a day-to-day basis or else something is going to happen like what happened to me.
PINSKY: Now, I want to turn to the Cottle story. Todd Cottle was a business manger for 15 years and lost his job over three years ago. His wife, Kathleen, employed as a teacher, and although, she is still working, her income is not enough to cover their bills. They`ve gone through their savings and sold practically everything except their home which they`re currently fighting the bank to stay in. Todd, how are you and your wife coping?
TODD COTTLE, UNEMPLOYED AND LOOKING FOR WORK: Well, it`s been difficult. The stress, sometimes, can almost be tangible, but, you know, we try to keep a positive attitude and just get through, you know, one day here, then a week, then a month, and try and keep the lights on.
PINSKY: Are you guys staying together as a unit, as a marriage? We saw in the last story, in Paul`s story that the money stresses broke up a marriage. Is this having an effect on your marriage?
TODD COTTLE: I think the stress takes a toll on the marriage, but as a unit, we`re together, planning on staying together. If one thing is going right in, you know, all facets of life, it`s probably, you know, our children, the family, Kathleen. That`s probably the most positive thing going on.
PINSKY: Kathleen, I want to ask this question of you. Does this sort of -- I don`t want to be glum about this, but does this help you sort of reset your priorities? You know, the -- I think that`s what your husband is eluding to is that important things are still good in your life, and you`ve got those things, at least.
KATHLEEN COTTLE, SHE & HUSBAND FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY: Oh, absolutely. I think that our family and our friends and our church, those are the most important things to us. That those have really stayed the same. We have to work at it. The relationship, you have to communicate more. Like you said, on the day-to-day things and the spending, but we do. We have to prioritize what we want and where the money has to go. And, we make it work from there.
PINSKY: Now, both Paul and the Cottles have filed for chapter seven bankruptcy protection, which basically means the person`s unsecured debt like credit cards and medical bills are completely wiped out. They`re no longer responsible for those expenses. So, for those of you at home that want to know who can qualify for chapter seven, here is those qualifications.
Those who don`t have enough money to make minimal payments to creditors, those whose income level is below your state`s median income level, or those who have less than $100 of disposable income each month. Todd, how has filing for chapter seven helped?
TODD COTTLE: By the time we actually got through the entire process, we`d been unable to pay a lot of those credit card bills for some time. So, I was kind of looking forward to, you know, a point where, you know, some of that income could be used for other things. The reality is that we weren`t able to pay them for some time. And so, it really had, you know, little effect other than the fact that like you said, they`re gone.
PINSKY: Jennifer, is filing for chapter seven -- probably, after break, we`ll have to address this as well. I want to differentiate between chapter seven and chapter 11, but is having filed for chapter seven going to have a long-term effect on these folks?
JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, MONEY EXPERT, HLN`S "MORNING EXPRESS": Well, in general, it would, Dr. Drew, except that oftentimes, just like their situation, by the time people get to chapter seven bankruptcy, they`ve already stopped paying a lot of bills. So, in some ways, their credit scores, actually, already bombed out at that point. So, in some ways, they`re just actually starting to turn a corner and turn around, but it is something that it`s not great.
You don`t want to get yourself to the point where you get to chapter seven. You want to start doing things long, long before that so you don`t paint yourself into a corner. And now, you can`t sell your house to get out of your financial problems.
PINSKY: Jennifer, for those people, they are thinking about doing something drastic like chapter seven. What`s the timeframe for getting out of it? And, what does it mean for the time when you`re sort of under the shadow of that chapter seven?
WESTHOVEN: Well, the shadow of that can last on your credit score for seven years. How long it takes you to get out of it depends on how soon can you find a job, what kinds of downsizing do you make to your life so that you have less to pay. So, it`s really hard to know in an individual situation how fast they`ll get out of it, but credit wise, it can be seven years. So, you may be renting for a long time or finding other ways. You`re not going to be able to borrow money the same way that you could in the past.
PINSKY: All right. When we come back, more on money messes and our survival guide. Why you have to face the financial problem head on? Stick around for your calls and questions. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re on the web. You`re sitting in front of the computer four, five hours trying to find out, you know, the jobs that are available.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s after like a month or so, you start to feel like, you know, is there any hope? Is anybody even looking at your, you know, profile online because there`s not many responses that you get back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s my job to get a job. I`m going to get one. I`m going to find one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: As I said earlier, there are over 14 million Americans out of work. Last Friday, a job fair was held in Atlanta where thousands of people showed up looking for employment. Turnout was, indeed, staggering. Look at that. We`re back with our guests who were also in the same boat.
Paul Ossmann is a former TV weatherman who lost his job at the local Atlanta affiliate where he had been employed for 13 years. Todd Cottle is an unemployed business manager who`ve been looking for work for the past three years. He is joined by his wife, Kathleen. And Jennifer Westhoven, our HLN money morning -- excuse me -- "Morning Money Express" anchor, "Morning Money Express" anchor.
PINSKY: Jennifer, what would you advise these folks who are struggling to find work?
WESTHOVEN: Well, it`s so hard. I love the last person in the clip who said it`s my job right now to find a job. She didn`t sound depressed. She sounded like she was still going forth, and you know, it takes so long these days to find a job. That`s something we`re really seeing from the stats much longer than anybody anticipated.
So, it`s why it`s so crucial to have that emergency savings fund in some ways, even though right now, it may be the hardest time for you to save, and yet, it`s crucial for you to have that because you just don`t know how long it`s going to take you to find that next job in case something happens
PINSKY: Jennifer, I want to bring up a tough subject, and that is that I keep hearing on like some of the financial news channels where they kind of say, wink, wink. This unemployment is primarily affecting people that are undereducated, but here, I`ve got a panel of people that are either business people or have long-term careers, and we just saw a piece of tape from what looked like, you know, lively, well-educated, bright young people looking for work. Is it now just beginning to bleed into everywhere? Everyone`s now affected by the unemployment?
WESTHOVEN: Oh, it certainly is, but I also think that part of that is that it`s the people who are quote, "educated" who are having a much harder time because they can`t accept that they`re not going to make the kind of paycheck that they used to make. Say they used to make $100,000, they don`t want to settle for a $50,000 a year job.
And for some of those people, they`ve got their -- how much they make wrapped up into their identity so much that it`s a lot harder for them to make the change to downsize which is what they really need to do faster.
PINSKY: Jennifer, that is a really interesting point that I almost never hear anybody talk about it, and I`d like to ask particularly, Todd and Paul that. What she`s saying is that people are having to lower their expectations about what their career is going to be because the jobs and the careers they want just aren`t available. Is that what you guys are facing?
OSSMANN: I know I went through unemployment right now. I`m on unemployment, and I made a great salary, and I just think that you have to almost reinvent yourself. You know, sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom before you can say maybe I can do something else, and I`m going back to school now to study real estate and just hope that`s the path that I really do think it is.
I think one thing that you`ve really got to do, Dr. Drew, is you`ve got to be optimistic about the future. You`ve got to say I have my health, my children are OK, and all is great in the world, and I can reinvent myself, and maybe, there is a better tomorrow out there for me.
PINSKY: I think I heard that same cry from the Cottles, but Todd, do you have anything to say that about that topic of having to sort of lower your expectations?
TODD COTTLE: Well, I think, actually, we`ve been through that. You know, not having had sustainable employment for three years. Right after, you know, I was certainly looking for a job, I had comparable income and incomparable title, but, you know, I`ve kind of moved on to that where I`m just basically looking for anything.
PINSKY: Jennifer, I want to coin the term -- thanks, Todd. I`m sorry to interrupt you, but these satellites have a little bit of delay. I`m stepping on people sometimes. But, Jennifer, I want to coin the term underemployment, that we have a crisis that is in the statistics, that great resources, human resources, are being underutilized because there just aren`t jobs to utilize them.
WESTHOVEN: Oh, absolutely. And people are absolutely depressed and not knowing how to feel about this. And then what happens is, they`re out there hitting the bricks for so long using all these ways, using the internet, doing what they can to get a new job, then, they completely just fall off the rolls all together. They`re not even in the statistics anymore because once you stop looking for work for a certain amount of time, you`re no longer counted among the officially unemployed.
So, there are estimates that we`ve got 25 million and far more millions -- and that 25 million is one of the official estimates. There are a lot more people than that who they have all these skills, they`re not being used, they`re not anywhere, and they`re not even being counted either.
PINSKY: All right. We`re taking your calls live hoping we can help some of you out there who are also in financial turmoil. My first caller is Brenda in Tennessee. I was just out there last week. Brenda, what`s going on?
BRENDA IN TENNESSEE: Hi, Drew and Jennifer.
PINSKY: Oh, Jennifer. I`m sorry. Go ahead. Oh, I`m sorry this is Brenda addressing Jennifer.
BRENDA: I`m sorry?
PINSKY: You said -- I thought you introduced yourself as Jennifer. Brenda, go right ahead, in Tennessee.
BRENDA: Yes. I`ve been unemployed for almost two years now, and I have even gone back to school to continue my education. While trying to re-enter the workforce to use my new skills, it does seem that no one wants to hire based on knowledge. Although, I`ve had several interviews with a nice resume, they actually want more experience. I`d like to know of some ways around this issue and possibly getting hired. It seems especially tougher on middle aged women like me.
PINSKY: Jennifer, this is exactly that topic we were just going over. Do you have a response for her?
WESTHOVEN: Well, sure. Brenda, one of the things I heard you say is that you went back to school, which is a lot of time. It`s a lot of money. So, I really commend you for that. What I didn`t hear, though, is -- because I`m not sure what kind of skills you`ve got, is one of the things that`s so important is thinking about what the demand is. What kind of jobs are out there and making sure you get skills to get you into those jobs. What did you say?
PINSKY: Jennifer, hang on. Jennifer, we`re all hanging on your every word. What can people -- what are those demands? Is there any -- does it depend on the region? Where do you figure that out?
WESTHOVEN: Well, regionally, there`s a way to look at -- Texas has done very well with jobs. Also, the south areas like Atlanta, frankly, have done really well, too, but also, it`s by industry. You don`t have to pick up and move. Industry is health care, technology. There are so many ways that if you can take the experience you already have.
Let`s just say you`re an accountant and you find a way to specialize to take classes in health care accounting. That`s going to be the kind of thing that can get you to where the jobs are as opposed to staying in your old field or whatever industry that maybe there`s just no demand there.
PINSKY: And we received this e-mail from Troy in Nevada. He says, "I owned a music store that opened in 2004, but in the latter half of 2008, we closed down due to lack of business. I have since battled addictions and losing another job I got. But because of Drew`s influence, I checked into rehab in January. There, I also disclosed that I had been sexually abused. Recovery has been slow, but I`m getting better. I`m still unemployed, but I was wondering if you have any additional words of advice?"
I`m going to actually go to Todd, Kathleen, and Paul on this. I think that what that story tells me is something I heard, I think, from you guys is, take care of what`s important first. If you don`t take care of your health both physically and mentally, you`re not going to be in any position to deal with this financial disaster we`re all in. You guys agree with that?
OSSMANN: Absolutely. I mean, you get to the basics. I mean, when you`re down to the bare bones, when you don`t have a job, and you`re looking at unemployment, you have to know that you still have yourself. And if you have yourself and you`re healthy and you have a positive attitude on what the future could bring you, I think you have everything right there.
And I commend those people like we just heard going back to school to try to learn something or try to reinvent themselves, and I think that`s really important that you do have hope based on the fact that you still have your health and the health of your children. There`s a lot to be thankful for.
PINSKY: And Kathleen, last word from you, because I think I heard this from you, the best in this little discussion. Maybe you could paraphrase something you just said about how lucky you feel to have the important things in your life and give that back to people out there who may be struggling.
KATHLEEN COTTLE: I like the word he just used when he said reinvent yourself, and I think everything good or bad is an opportunity to reinvent yourself. And as you read the e-mail from the gentleman, he used this as an opportunity to try and help himself to be a better person. And, I think whatever life lessons come our way, we have a choice to make. And I think, sometimes, that lesson is pull up your boot straps and move on. And try to do the best you can because that`s all you can do.
PINSKY: Thank you, Kathleen. Thank you to Paul, Jennifer, and to Todd. Best of luck to you guys, and we will be right back.
PINSKY: Welcome back. Our HLN money expert, Jennifer Westhoven, is here. Now, Jennifer, can you wrap up for us the three key aspects of how to help people avoid getting in to deep?
WESTHOVEN: Right. And that`s the -- the first way is to be prepared for the bad times. You know, back when things were doing so well, I was always surprised at how many people were spending like it would always be the good times. And if you said, hey, you`ve got to save, they were like that`s not going to happen. You`ve got to remember that the bad times could come very easily, and you want to be prepared for them before then.
There was just a survey out that 64 percent of Americans don`t even have a thousand dollars set aside for an emergency. That`s a big deal.
WESTHOVEN: It means -- yes -- a medical problem, a car repair, and you could end up on the road to ruin as well. Another one is who is your backup? This is one of my favorite questions. It can be family, it can be friends, but you`ve got to treat those people like gold.
If you borrow money from somebody in your family, I say, you should pay them back before the bank or the credit cards in some cases, because those are people who are going to give you emotional support, maybe let you live with them for awhile, and it`s something that you don`t want to suddenly try to become friends and become close in the bad times. You want strong ties before that.
PINSKY: That is important advice. Relationships are the basis of everything financial, really, when you get right down to it. What`s the third point?
WESTHOVEN: What would you give up? What can you give up right now? Maybe, you`ve got some monthly subscriptions that you don`t really notice. Maybe you get pedicures all the time. Do you really need that? What kinds of things can you give up so that you can save money for college, for yourself, for your emergency fund? And you know, Paul, the weatherman, said something really interesting to me that I hadn`t thought of. Communicating.
He said that his wife was doing all the finances, and he wasn`t even asking questions. If that`s the situation for you, I really suggest talk to your spouse, because what if they`re afraid to give you the bad news? You`re afraid to ask. You guys don`t know what`s going on. You got to know.
PINSKY: And what if there`s a real big negative number in your financial portfolio? In other words, you got ton of debt and you start to think about chapter seven which we`ve heard about earlier this evening. What`s all that going to do to the economy overall? Is it time for people just to go ahead and do that? Should they rush to that? Or should that be just a move of last resort?
WESTHOVEN: I think that you`ve got to make sure that you`re on solid footing. That if something went wrong, you know where you would go. You know what would happen with your kids. That you don`t have to be in a situation where you`re worrying about feeding your kids, and it might be really hard. You know, maybe it`s moving in with your mom.
Some people think oh, I can`t, but really, what would you do for your family? You don`t want to end up in a situation where things are really out of control and you have no place to go.
PINSKY: Thanks, Jennifer.
Now, before we go, a few words about what millions of parents, my wife and I included, are experiencing this month. Kids are going off to college. Talking about the emptiness. We took our first son -- we have triplets. We left our first son at college. We left him there. So, that`s one down, two to go. By the time September is here, we`ll have send all three of them off into their future, and I hope -- I mean, my hope is that they`re going to have more fun than I did, not worrying so much about what`s coming.
In fact, this is a great time to be in school. We heard that in this last segment that there`s a lot of financial and economic trouble out there. Go as far as you can in your education so you`ll have that when you get out. Hope they`ll enjoy new friends and -- oh, there`s my family - and they`ll live in the present. I have to remind myself about that as well as.
And this is their lives, not ours. My wife and I, thank God, are great together, and we look forward to sending them off to a great time at college. Although, we`re still kind of waiting for the holidays to come when they`ll come home. Thank you all for watching. We`ll see you next time.