THE IRISH CABINET has approved guidelines to be used by banks and other creditors when meeting citizens with claims of insolvency. Although some of the guidelines suggest penal servitude to opposition politicians, I know they also reflect reality around our kitchen table.
Even before government guidelines have been published, the Free Legal Advice Centre reports, "banks have refused to allow people who have made debt settlements to spend money on dental work, car reparis, or after-school activities for their children." 
Another leaked guideline involves childcare expenses. If the job taken doesn't offset the cost of child care incurred, the current draft guidelines allow for banks to decide "a resonable standard of living" for people entering debt-settlement arrangements.  When you're sitting in front of a bank manager with your spreadsheet and grocery shopping receipts, you'll probably cave in to the demand to cutting child care if that's suggested.  And you might have to cut your Sky TV subscription and give up a family pet for adoption.
While I can empathsize with the wailing public about the ruthless reduction in standards of living that will suffocate hundredss of families who choose the personal insolvency route, we've been cutting and slashing for more than a year. And after taking some drastic steps, we can finally plan our first family holiday away from Ireland in more than three years.
1. Sarah McInerney -- "Banks stop dental work and repairs" on p2 of the Sunday Times in Ireland, March 31, 2013.
2. Sarah McInerney -- "Sky's the limit" in the Focus section of the Sunday Times, March 31, 2013.
3. Martha Kearns -- "Child care is a vital need, not an extra" in the Sunday Business Post, March 31, 2013.
Bernie Goldbach works for the Limerick Institute of Technology where his wages and buying power are back to 2003 levels.