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Dave Says May 22 2018

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It takes two

Dear Dave,

My husband has an old car that has become a real sticking point between us. He bought it for $2,400, and it needs about $4,000 in repairs and restoration. Together, we bring home $50,000 a year, and I feel like this car is interfering with our ability to save money and pay off $35,000 in debt. We already have two decent cars we drive to work, so what should I do about this?

Stacy

Dear Stacy,

There are lots of guys out there who like shiny toys — especially cars. I get it, because I’m one of them. But these kinds of things are luxuries, and stuff like this should wait until the household and finances are in order. The family should always come first.

Dumping money into this while you two are struggling financially doesn’t make sense. On top of that, it’s causing problems between you two on a deeper level. I’m sure your husband isn’t a bad guy, so try sitting down with him and explaining how it makes you feel. Let him know what it’s doing to your finances and your marriage. You might even write the financial side down, so he can see exactly what kind of shape you two are in and where the money is going.

Once you do this in a kind, but concerned, manner, it may be a real eye-opener for him. On top of that, you might consider giving him a little incentive to get on board with the idea of getting your finances in order. Suggest that once the debt is gone, and you’ve got some savings in place, there might be a little extra cash on hand to help get that car up and running.

Good luck, Stacy!

—Dave

Postpone the marriage?

Dear Dave,

My fiancé and I are planning to be married in less than a year. We’ve both been through your class at church, and the other night we started wondering if we should wait to have the wedding until we’re both completely debt-free. Would you give us your opinion?

Michelle

Dear Michelle,

Congratulations! I hope you two will have long and happy lives together.

To answer your question, I don’t think there’s a reason to wait. When two people know they really love each other, they should get married whenever they feel in their hearts the time is right.

At this point, you shouldn’t be thinking about money as anything except an indicator of where you’re going. It doesn’t matter who got into debt or how, because everyone makes mistakes. But if you’re both serious about getting out of debt, living on less than you make, and are in agreement about how the dollars are going to be handled, then — where money is concerned — you’re ready to be married.

Many relationship experts say if a couple can agree on four important things — kids, money, religion, and how to handle the in-laws — they have a great statistical chance of a happy marriage. I believe this, too. And make sure you meet with your pastor for some good, pre-marital counseling before the big day. With all this going for you, I think you two will be okay.

God bless you both!

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 14 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

5 Financial Priorities for Your College Student

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By Anthony ONeal

If you’re the parent of a child already attending or about to enter college, you probably have a lot on your mind. That’s understandable. College is an exciting time of life, full of big choices and exciting opportunities. But let’s face it, it’s also a stage of life that can bring temptations — money troubles in particular.

If you have a few concerns about how your child will handle their money in college, you’re not alone. I’ll never forget my own early financial experiences as a young college student—or the day I opened my first credit card bill and saw what I owed.

“Man, that was an expensive pizza!”

The folks who signed me up told me my credit card came with a free T-shirt and a pizza. I got both of those, but they were far from free. They came with consequences no one had warned me about. It started with a few thoughtless purchases—a dinner out, a shopping spree for gifts—but it added up quick.

Somehow, I hadn’t realized the stuff I was buying and enjoying on credit was going to come due as a bill. Throw in the student loans I had taken on, and I was getting into some serious financial trouble. Before I knew what was happening, I was 19 years old, $25,000 in debt, and — for a short time — even sleeping in my car.

But here’s some encouragement. I made it all the way back, got out of debt, and learned the right way to handle money. And your child can win with money, despite a world of pressure to do otherwise. It’s true! As a youth pastor and speaker, I’ve met, worked with, and walked beside many young people who graduated college as strong budgeters, with a clear plan for the future and no debt. So can the college student in your life!

The Big Five

While your child is in college, they can lay a solid financial foundation by focusing on just five priorities for managing their money. With this foundation in place, at least two great things will happen for them: They will be in a strong position to build wealth throughout their life, and they will gain an awesome amount of self-discipline to help them in their career.

  1. Save a $500 Emergency Fund. It might not sound like a lot. But $500 is usually enough to see a college student through most of the financial emergencies that come up, like a broken phone or computer. I know you’re going to want to help them out as you’re able, but it’s also a great idea to let a young person feel what it’s like to solve a money problem with their own money, instead of using yours or a credit card.
  2. Get Out of Debt. You probably remember from your own time on campus that college students are a major target for credit card companies. Help your child understand that going into debt is no way to start adulthood. If they already have credit cards, encourage them to cut those up and pay them off. The sooner they’re debt-free, the sooner they can begin using their money to go after their dreams.
  3. Pay Cash for a Car. Most college students will need a car either right away or soon after graduating. But the need for wheels is no excuse to take on a big monthly payment. Paying cash will save your child a lot of money, and they will get a lot more enjoyment from something they actually own.
  4. Pay Cash for College. You’ve probably noticed student loans are getting out of hand in America. In 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that the average college student is graduating with more than $37,000 in student loan debt to pay back. That’s insane! Let your child know that paying for tuition and books is no different than paying for food and gas. By paying for college with cash they’ll immediately be able to use their pay for things they want, instead of paying off debt for years.
  5. Build Wealth and Give. This one is my favorite, because there’s no better feeling than the one you get while using your money to help those you care about. As Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And who has the most freedom to do a lot of good with their money? Those who have been fortunate enough to stay out of debt and build wealth.

One more tip: It’s easy to assume you can only build this foundation if you begin early enough in life. Believe me, that’s not true. It’s never too early to start, but it’s also never too late. Whether your child is just beginning to think about college, or is already enrolled, they can apply these principles to take full control of their money — in school and beyond!

About Anthony ONeal

Since 2003, Anthony ONeal has helped thousands of students make good decisions with their money, relationships and education to live a well-balanced life. He’s the National Best-Selling Author of Graduate Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in College, and travels the country spreading his encouraging message to help teens and young adults transition into the real world. His latest book and video kit, Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox, released in April 2018.

You can follow Anthony on Twitter and Instagram @AnthonyONeal and online at anthonyoneal.com or facebook.com/aoneal.

Dave Says May 14 2018

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Save up, or get a mortgage?

Dear Dave,

I’m 28, single, and I just became debt-free. In addition, I make $70,000 a year and have the equivalent of six months of expenses set aside for emergencies. Should I save up to pay cash for a house, or is mortgage debt okay? I’d like to keep the price of a new home between $200,000 and $225,000. Since I currently live in a nice apartment, I think I can save about $20,000 a year. What do you think?

Kathryn

Dear Kathryn,

It sounds like you’re in great financial shape. Congratulations on becoming debt-free!

Let’s take a look at both scenarios. If you can save $20,000 a year, that means you’re about 10 years away from a nice, paid-for home, and you’re still debt-free. That’s one option. At the same time, I don’t yell at people for taking out a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage, where the payments are no more than 25 percent of their monthly take home pay. In this situation, you could save like crazy for a couple of years and make a big down payment on a home in the price range you’re talking about. Then, you could pay off that house in just 15 years.

I honestly don’t have a problem with either solution, Kathryn, but think about this. Wouldn’t it be great to have your own home, and still be completely debt-free, at 40? It’s something to think about!

—Dave

Stand up to them!

Dear Dave,

A debt collection agency started calling my office a few weeks ago. I gave them an initial payment, and made an agreement to pay off the debt in monthly installments. This morning, they started calling me at my office again wanting payment. Can I legally demand they not call me at my place of employment?

James

Dear James,

Absolutely! You have a legal and moral obligation to pay your debts, and I’m glad this is something you recognize. But collectorshave rules they must follow. They’re governed by law just like everyone else.

Be certain to keep your end of the agreement. Make your payments on time, or early, whenever possible. Then, if they call you at work again, remind them of your initial payment and the terms of the agreement already in place. Be polite, but firm, and demand that they never call you at your office again.

In addition, send them a certified letter, return receipt requested, so 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 demanding they not call you at your office again.

If they call you there after receiving this formal demand to stop, they’ll be in violation of federal law. If that happens, let them know you’ll talk to a lawyer and sue them.

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

Dave Says May 8 2018

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Help them help themselves

Dear Dave,

My parents have always been bad with money, and recently they lost their home to foreclosure. They found another place to live, and they both work, but since the foreclosure my dad has been asking me for money on a regular basis. He tries to make me feel guilty, and he calls or asks me to come over to talk about it when my mom isn’t home. He even asked for half of the bonus I received at work the other day. I know they need help, but I’m not sure what to do.

Eli

Dear Eli,

I can tell you love your parents, because you’re looking for the best way to help them. I think your brain knows what to do, but your heart is having a hard time doing it.

The first thing you’re going to have to accept is your father is being very manipulative right now. Put an end to these private meetings and phone calls once and for all. If he wants to talk, make sure he understands it will only happen with your mom in the room.

Second, understand there’s nothing wrong with helping your folks get back on their feet. However, any financial help you give them should be temporary in nature, and it should be a gift. Don’t get involved in giving them money every month just because they raised you. That’s not how this works. When you permanently subsidize someone, you take away their dignity. You also change their status, and compromise their ability to stand on their own two feet.

In return, you should let them know you expect them to work toward changing their financial behaviors with the help of a quality financial counselor — one with the heart of a teacher. It’s often difficult for parents to accept advice and suggestions from their ownchildren, but it’s for their own good. Sit down with them, and gently let them know how much you care, and how much you want better, happier lives for them.

God bless you all, Eli.

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

Dave Says May 2, 2018

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First, lay a solid foundation

Dear Dave,

When is it okay to have a little fun, and buy things you want, when you’re following the Baby Steps plan?

Kaitlin

Dear Kaitlin,

The time for a little fun is after you’ve completed the first three Baby Steps. Baby Step 1 is saving $1,000 for a beginner emergency fund. Baby Step 2 is paying off all debt, except for your home. And Baby Step 3 means you go back and add to your emergency fund until you have three to six months of expenses set aside.

Once you’re debt-free except for your home — and you have your emergency fund completed — you’ve laid a solid, financial foundation for your life. That’s when you can have a little fun and spend some money on a vacation, new furniture, or something like that.

Children think about their immediate wants and do what feels good. Adults, on the other hand, devise smart, logical plans, and stick to them. I want you to have a great life, but you have to put in some hard work and say “no” to yourself sometimes in order to attain that great life!

—Dave

It’s Baby Step 1 for a reason

Dear Dave,

I’ll be receiving my income tax refund soon. It will be enough to completely pay off my two smallest debts, or get my starter emergency fund of $1,000 for Baby Step 1 in place. What should I do?

Brandy

Dear Brandy,

I love that you’re excited about using your refund to start the Baby Steps, and begin gaining control of your finances. But we call the beginner’s emergency fund Baby Step 1 for a reason.

Bad things can happen while you’re working to get out of debt. That’s why I want people to get a little money set aside before they start Baby Step 2, which is the debt snowball. What if the alternator on your car goes out, or your refrigerator dies? Life happens, and things go wrong. When this kind of stuff pops up, and you don’t have any money set aside, you’re likely to quit the plan and wind up going even deeper into debt.

I know you want to get out of debt. I want you to get out of debt, too. But I want you to stick with the plan, and actually get out of debt, instead of falling off the wagon the first time you hit a bump in the road!

Dave Ramsey Says April 17 2018

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Laptop dilemma

Dear Dave,

My husband and I are just starting Baby Step 1 of your plan. Prior to this, we told my two nephews we would buy them laptop computers for college. They don’t get a lot of encouragement or support from their immediate family, so we try to help them when we can. Should we go ahead and honor this commitment, postpone getting our starter emergency fund in place, and possibly take on a little more debt, or bow out of the agreement?

Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Well, it’s difficult to be generous when you’re broke. You don’t even have $1,000 to your names, and you’re going to buy two laptops? I don’t know how much debt you have, or what your household income is, but I do know neither of you have managed your money very well in the past.

If you make $50,000 a year, and you have $70,000 in debt, you should sincerely and apologetically bow out. Explain that you made a big mistake, and just be honest about why you can’t provide the laptops. If you make $200,000 a year, but you’ve just been incredibly silly and lazy with your money, you should buy the laptops and then get serious about growing up and getting control of your finances.

Don’t make promises, financial or otherwise, you can’t keep. I know this is a tough, embarrassing situation, but it’s what I would do if I were in your shoes.

—Dave

Tiny home depreciation?

Dear Dave,

Do you think the value of a “tiny home” would depreciate like a trailer?

Romeo

Dear Romeo,

That’s a tough one. I’m not certain they would depreciate like a trailer, but I don’t think they would go up in value much, either.

Anytime there’s a very limited demand for something, the price or value doesn’t generally increase. And there are very few people looking to buy tiny homes. The tiny home movement is kind of a niche thing. It’s a very narrow market, and something that doesn’t have a lot of demand isn’t going to appreciate.

I would avoid the tiny house movement if I were you, Romeo. Don’t invest in things that don’t have proven track records and don’t go up in value. I love real estate, but not tiny real estate!

—Dave

*Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

Dave Says April 5 2018

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Getting rid of the car

Dear Dave,

How do you sell a vehicle with a lien amount that’s higher than the actual value of the car?

Michael

Dear Michael,

First, you need to find a way to cover the difference between the amount of the lien and what you can get for the car. Let’s say the car is worth $12,000, and you owe $15,000. That would leave you $3,000 short.

The bank holds the title, so unless you give them the payoff amount of $15,000 you’re not getting the title. The easiest and simplest way would be if someone buys the car for $12,000, and you had $3,000 on hand to make up the difference. If you don’t have the money to make up the difference, you could go to a local bank or credit union and borrow the remaining $3,000.

I really hate debt, but being $3,000 in the hole is a lot better than being $15,000 in the hole. Then, you could turn around and quickly pay back the $3,000 you borrowed.

You’d give the total amount owed to the bank, they would give you the title, and you would sign it over to the new owner. Hope this helps!

—Dave

Stop spending completely?

Dear Dave,

My mom and dad are following your advice, and they are working hard to get out of debt. I was wondering, is it okay to buy things while you’re paying off the debt you already have?

Leslie

Dear Leslie,

I’m glad you’re paying attention to the finances around your house. Of course, there are some things you must have. We call these “necessities.” Most things are not necessities, though. If your air conditioning breaks down, or you have car repairs, those are things you must spend money on to fix. Things like new furniture, vacations, and eating at restaurants are not necessities. They’re things you might want, but they’re not necessary — especially when you’re trying to pay off debt.

I always recommend people take a hard look at their priorities, and remember there’s a difference between wanting something and needing something to survive. It can be hard, and it may mean everyone has to go without a few things they want for a while. But if your parents are serious about getting out of debt, they’ll do it. And it really won’t take all that long.

Great question, Leslie!

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

Dave Says March 29 2018

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Access to my checking account?

Dear Dave,

Will paying my taxes online give the government electronic access to my checking account?

Ashley

Dear Ashley,

If you use your checking account, of course they will have the ability to withdraw that money from your account. I believe I know where you’re going with this question, and I think you may be a little confused about my stance on this sort of thing.

There’s nothing wrong with certain entities having access to your checking account. I use electronic bill pay for utilities, mutual fund contributions, and things like that all the time. The only time I warn people against giving electronic access to their bank accounts is when they’re dealing with collectors over a bad debt. The government — even the IRS — isn’t known for coming in and randomly taking money out of people’s accounts. Collectors, on the other hand, do it all the time.

You’re in a fight when you’re dealing with a debt collector. It’s an adversarial relationship. As a rule, no one in that industry should ever be given electronic access to any of your accounts. There may be a few decent debt collection companies out there, but many of them will lie, cheat, and steal to get your money.

I hope that clears things up, Ashley.

—Dave

Many already know

Dear Dave,

How can I convince my fellow millennials that government isn’t the solution to their problems?

Josh

Dear Josh,

I think you’re proceeding from a false assumption. Many millennials already understand it’s not the government’s job to take care of everyone and provide everything. The problem, I think, is there’s a group of people in every generation that wants someone else to take care of them.

The only thing I can suggest is that you try to be kind to everyone. It does no good to have a political discussion with a political neophyte. If you have friends like this, perhaps you could suggest they work to control and improve the variables in their lives they can actually control and make better — namely themselves.

You can’t control the variable of government, Josh. It’s not going to come to your rescue. It never has.

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven bestselling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

Dave Ramsey Says March 22 2018

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Two extremes

Dear Dave,

I’m about to graduate from college, and while I’ve been in school my mom has been handling most of my finances. Recently, I discovered she’s been taking my student loan money and spending it on herself. So far, it looks like she’s taken around $12,000, and I have a total of $25,000 in student loan debt. Since I realized this was happening, I’ve been reading your books and learning how to manage my own money. I don’t know how to deal with this situation with her, though. She admits she did wrong, but says she can’t pay it back. Can you help?

Alan

Dear Alan,

I hate hearing this. There’s no easy way to deal with these kinds of situations.

The first thing you need to do is take over complete and total control of all your finances. Shut down any accounts that have her name on them, and anything else financially-related that she can access. I know this sounds harsh, but she has proven she’s just not trustworthy. It’s a hard thing to hear about a parent, but at this point you’ve got to take steps to protect yourself. What she has been doing is theft, and financial child abuse.

One extreme is to press criminal charges. The other extreme is to just forget it, and pay it. In between is a promise from her to repay everything she has taken, but she’s already out of control. That’s a promise that wouldn’t be kept. The problem with prosecuting someone criminally for this type of action — other than the emotional toll, because she’s your mom — is the money’s already gone. It’s doesn’t make them magically have the money to repay you. On top of all this, you’d have a really hard time legally getting the student loans removed from your name due to theft.

Honestly, under the circumstances I think you’re probably going to end up eating this. But sit down, and try to have a calm, clear discussion about what has happened, and why it happened. Let her know first, without a doubt, that you will criminally prosecute her if she ever uses your name to put money into her own pocket again. Second, tell her you’re prepared to forgive her and forget about it — and she pays you back at some point, if she can — if she agrees to get some financial and emotional counseling.

Try to get her some help, and get her under control, Alan. If you don’t, I’m afraid things are only going downhill from here.

—Dave

 

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

Dave Ramsey Says March 8 2018

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Layoff insurance?

Some of the people I work with have been buying into a new kind of supplemental insurance that protects against layoffs. It costs about $30 a month per person, and the full payout if you’re laid off is $9,000. It seems to me you would have to be paying in for a long time to see that kind of return, so I wanted to see how you feel about this kind of thing.

Steve

Dear Steve,

Anytime insurance is there for something you could cover yourself, it’s a good idea to stop and remember that every insurance company is still a business. They must cover all the costs of operation, plus make a profit. Believe me, that takes a lot of money.

Statistically speaking, if lots of people cashed in on a policy like this an insurance company would go out of business. We’re talking about only $30 a month to cover $9,000. That alone tells you not many people cash in. It’s gimmick insurance.

On average, you’re losing money when you buy insurance of any kind. Again, on average, over the scope of your lifetime you’d be better off simply saving money and self-insuring against things like this. The only things I recommend buying insurance for are things you can’t afford to cover personally. But you can afford to cover a layoff by saving an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses.

If I’m in your shoes, Steve, I’m not buying that stuff.

—Dave

Dear Dave,

Keep it in your own pocket!

I just filed taxes, and it looks like I’ll get a pretty big refund this year. A friend of mine told me I should adjust my withholding, so I don’t get a refund. This seems pretty dumb to me. Why would I change my withholdings when I’m getting money back?

James

Dear James,

The only reason you’re getting a refund is because you had too much taken out of your paychecks in 2017.

Let’s say your refund is $3,500. Basically, you loaned the government $3,500 of your own money, interest-free. A refund isn’t a gift or reward, James. It’s your own cash that you get back because you paid in too much during the previous year. In your case, that adds up to almost $300 a month!

Instead of loaning the government money that you worked hard to earn, wouldn’t it be a better idea to keep it in your own pocket?

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

 

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