A hard time making ends meet

DEAR HARRY: Basically, I'm having a hard time making ends meet. I was never great with money, but I got along OK until about two years ago. My mother died, leaving me a house with no mortgage, but with much deferred maintenance. I can swing the expenses. I paid off my mother's car loan, and then the car died. I bought a new car and now have payments of $212 a month. Then it really hit the fan when my ex-girlfriend had my baby (DNA got me). There is food, clothing, etc., for the child, plus support for her. She has refused to look for work, claiming that the child needs her full attention. I then got hit with legal fees of $7,000 after an estimate of $5,000. I have credit-card debt on top of all this. There are no savings, and my job is not secure. I have reached a point of desperation. What can I do?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: First try to get a mortgage on that house. If that fails, there are many reliable counseling agencies, and perhaps just as many phonies. The only one I feel comfortable in recommending is Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Delaware Valley (215-563-5665). I've heard only good things about them. They are nonprofit and get results fast. Of course, there is always bankruptcy, but only as a last resort.

Email Harry Gross at harrygrossDN@gmail.com, or write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.