Tips for a Better Life is the sixteenth episode of the seventh season of Family Matters, which aired on ABC on February 9, 1996. It was directed by Joel Zwick and written by David W. Duclon and Gary Menteer.
Eddie battles the bottle when he begins coming home drunk from frat parties. He soon learns that his drinking is jeopardizing his relationships with his family and friends. Meanwhile in the subplot, in order for Urkel to pay for the damage he caused to Carl and Harriette's master bedroom by his latest invention, Steve decides takes a second job at Cafe Java as his alter ego Stefan Urquelle—without even notifying them at all. On his last night, however, Laura sings for him.
Urkel's new invention involving the Winslow's TV set by adjusting it's height for additional viewing takes an adverse effect when, thanks to his clumsiness, it cause the damages the floor of the Winslow's master bedroom. Urkel opens the door and he said that no one got hurt. Carl tells Urkel not yet and immediately bolts out of bed in his pajamas. Then, he begins to chase Steve around the Winslow house.
Eddie's problems with alcohol and their negative effects on his friends. He has come home from a frat party, where his college buddies constantly asked him for drinks, and is recovering from his hangover. However, even the slightest sound, such as Richie dribbling his basketball, annoys him. Carl has Richie leave so he can talk to his son alone. He's very upset with Eddie for drinking and tells him to quit while he's ahead since he's underage. Eddie accuses him of not letting him have his fun and his father interjects that he's not against having fun. Carl tells him about roads and that drinking will take him to a road that leads to a dead end, further warning that the next time he catches his son drunk before he's 21, Eddie will be kicked out of the house.
As Steve decides to auditions for the second job at the Cafe Java in order to pay for the damages he caused earlier. However, the manager hates his choice of music and turns him away. Undaunted, Urkel decided uses the transformation chamber and transforms into his alter ego. He gets the job as Stefan, playing smooth jazz on the piano and giving out tips for a better life. The ladies are impressed and crowd around him, giving Carl, Eddie and Laura to have a few nerd-free days.
Two weeks later, it turns out Eddie has ignored his father's warning to stay off alcohol, by coming home drunk again from another frat party and singing while slurring his words. Waldo tries to shut him up because his parents are sleeping, but he refuses and calls him an old lady. Then, a furious Carl heads downstairs and busts them. He's upset to learn that Eddie's been drinking again, against his wishes and has come home at 4 in the morning. When he asks if Waldo was drinking too, Waldo says no because he swore off alcohol and he was the designated driver; he also mentions that Eddie was a lot worse before he threw up in his car. Eddie is upset at Waldo and insults him by telling him he'd win the gold medal in the Stupid Olympics, hurting Waldo's feelings. Carl is fed up with Eddie's drunken nature and sends him to bed, though not before reminding him of his prior vow to kick him out if he was caught drinking again before he was of age; Carl tells Eddie that after he finishes sobering up, he has until the end of the weekend to pack up and find another place to live, much to his son's dismay.
For Stefan's final night at Cafe Java, he grants Laura's request by performing a song that professes her love for him. She sings it on the microphone, while he plays the piano. No matter how much of the costs she has to pay for, she'll still be saving all her love for Stefan.
The next day, Eddie is packed up and about to move in with Waldo. However, when Waldo arrives, he informs Eddie that he changed his mind about living with him and immediately sets him straight for hurting his feeling by insulting him while he was drunk. Waldo mentions that anyone who drinks at a party and insults their friends are no friends of his and breaks off his friendship with Eddie until he stops drinking. He leaves and Eddie tells Carl that he's forced to consider living with his frat brothers in a house with six bedrooms and one bathroom. As he leaves, he immediately apologizes for ignoring his father's warning to quit drinking while he was ahead. He realized how much drinking was a dead end road for him (losing his best friend in Waldo and being kicked out of his family house). Carl admits that most people don't realize how much the negative effects of drinking can do to them until it's too late. Eddie resolves to never drink again even if his frat brothers give him alcohol and his father gives him a second chance living in the Winslow house.
- Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow
- Jo Marie Payton as Harriette Winslow (credited as Jo Marie Payton-Noble)
- Rosetta LeNoire as Estelle Winslow (non-appearance)
- Darius McCrary as Eddie Winslow
- Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura Winslow
- Bryton James as Richie Crawford (credited as Bryton McClure)
- Jaleel White as Steve Urkel
- Shawn Harrison as Waldo Geraldo Faldo
- Tangie Ambrose as Girl #1
- Greg Proops as Cafe Manager
- Lasondra Zarif as Girl #2 (credited as La Sondra Zarif)
- This is one of the few times in the series when Waldo appears to be much smarter than he looks and shows that he has more dignity and self-respect than he lets on, as he stands up to Eddie and puts him in his place regarding how he acts when he drinks, putting his foot down and refusing to let Eddie live with him, stating that people that get drunk and insult him under the influence are no friends of his.
- It's also possible that Waldo's stance on Eddie's drinking also stems from his last-known brush with alcohol and his last appearance as an antagonist and sidekick to bully Willie Fuffner in Season 2's "Life of the Party", when the two got Steve drunk at Maxine's party by spiking his punch with liquor they'd smuggled in to get back at him for humiliating them and nearly caused the nerd to fall to his death in his stupor. Fortunately, Steve was rescued by Rachel and Willie and Waldo ended up arrested for their actions. After this, Waldo felt bad for his part in nearly getting Steve killed and consequently cut ties with Willie. He subsequently became nicer and befriended Steve and Eddie in the following season; as a result of this change, Waldo wound up having loyal friends, finding his cooking talent and gaining a wonderful girlfriend in Maxine.
- Steve had to be at Cafe Java as Stefan Urquelle for almost the entire episode in order for the clumsy nerd to pay off Carl after he accidentally caused more damage to Carl's house with his latest invention.
- This instance also showcases Jaleel's talent at piano playing.
- This is only episode where Steve didn't get involved with Eddie's alcohol situation case. This is due to Carl had forcing him to pay up for causing more damage to the Winslow house, and that's why he is at Cafe Java for almost the entire episode as his alter ego, giving his strict neighbor Carl a few days of him not to be irritated by.
- Big Daddy Urkel is mentioned in this episode by Carl in the subplot where Carl was about to have a agreement between him and Myrtle Urkel's father of get rid of his pesky neighbor Steve Urkel once and for all.
- This is the final time in which Steve transforms himself into Stefan Urquelle. The next time Stefan makes an appearance is in Send in the Clone when Steve clones himself and his clone is transformed into Stefan permanently making Steve and Stefan separate entities later in the series.
- This is the final time Carl kicks Eddie out. As Carl asks "We're not gonna have to pack these things again, are we?" and Eddie responds, "No way, Dad!"
- The song that Laura sings is Whitney Houston's 1985 classic hit "Saving All My Love For You“. This was the second time a main character sings the song, the first time, the song was sung by Steve (Jaleel White) in Just One Date when he attempted to ask Laura out on a date for the 1,000th time.
- [Urkel's latest invention ruins the upstairs floor of the Winslows master bedroom. He runs upstairs in his dinosaur slippers]
- Steve: Well....at least no one was hurt.
- Carl: Not yet....
- Harriette: Carl. Carl !!!
- [He climbs out of bed and chases Urkel around the house, being his only punishment]
- [Two Weeks Later, Eddie has ignored Carl's warning and is drunk again.]
- Eddie:[singing while drunk] Let me love you, baby. Let me love you baby. Till you feel my love for you is real.
- [Waldo tries to get Eddie to be quiet as Carl walks down the stairs]
- Eddie: Waldo, you always acting like an old lady. You even walk like one.
- Carl:[Turning on the lights] EDWARD!
- Eddie:[Busted] Uh-Oh!
- Carl: You know, it's 4'o Clock in the morning.
- Eddie: Really, my watch must be slow.
- Carl: Edward, you've been drinking again!
- Eddie: Ok, maybe a couple. [snickers while drunk] I'm hammered!
- [Carl walks over to Waldo.]
- Carl: Were you drinking too?
- Waldo: No, I swore off. Booze gives me a British accent. I'm the designated driver and may I say in Eddie's defense: he was a lot more dunk before he threw up in my designated car.
- Eddie:[offended] Thanks a lot, Waldo. You know you could win the gold medal in the Stupid Olympics!
- [Carl is offended when Eddie insults Waldo and walks back to him.]
- Carl: All right, Edward. It's time to go to bed.
- Edward:[as Carl is walking back upstairs] Whatever you say, Funk Master.
- Carl:[stopping in the middle and faces Eddie with a pained but firm look] And after you've slept it off. You can pack your things.
- Eddie:[quickly sobers up] P--pack my stuff?!
- Carl:[goes back downstairs] That's right. I've warned you, Edward, that the very next time I caught you drinking again, you would have to move out.
- Eddie: But dad....
- Carl:[firm] No buts, Edward. Now you have until the weekend to find you another place to live.