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Dave Ramsey Says February 15 2018

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Your retirement, your money

Dear Dave,

I’ve been following your plan, and I’m ready to start investing. Do employer contributions count toward the 15 percent you recommend putting into retirement?

Brenda

Dear Brenda,

Investing 15 percent of your income in retirement accounts is Baby Step 4 of my plan. That means you’ve already paid off all your debt, except for your home, and you’ve increased your $1,000 beginner’s emergency fund to a fully-funded emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. Way to go!

I want you to control your destiny, so employer contributions do not count toward the 15 percent I recommend setting aside for retirement. The first thing you should put money into is a matching retirement account. If you’ve got access to a 401(k) — and your employer offers a match — you should do that up to the match before anything else.

It’s nice if your company will match up to a certain point, but chances are that will still mean you’ve got some work to do. To make up the remainder, you could look at a Roth IRA. Then if the Roth, plus what you invested previously to get the match doesn’t equal 15 percent, you could see about a 403(b) or go back to your 401(k) to complete the 15 percent.

You’re doing great, Brenda. Keep up the good work!

—Dave

Precisely detailed

Dear Dave,

My mother wants everything, except for her home, left to my brother and I when she dies. She would like her long-time boyfriend to have her house. We don’t have a problem with this, but it has not been written into her will. Her mind is still sound, so does she need to officially update the will?

Dawn

Dear Dawn,

Yes, the will needs to be changed to reflect her wishes where the house is concerned. Since she’s still able to make decisions independently, the will should be legally updated to reflectexactly what she wants to have happen with every piece of her estate.

It’s fine if she wants to give her boyfriend the house. It’s your mom’s will, and her estate, so she can do pretty much whatever she wants. She could also leave what’s called a life estate that says her boyfriend gets use of the home while he’s alive. Technically, in this kind of situation the house would be left to you, but he would legally have use of it during his life. Upon his death, the home could then revert to you or your brother.

—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 November 29 2018

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Do what’s best for you

Dear Dave,

I’ll be graduating from college with no debt in a couple of weeks, and I have a good job waiting for me in January. During the last few years, I’ve managed to save almost $25,000 from my part-time jobs while in school. My car is pretty beaten up and old, so I’ve been shopping at a couple of car dealerships recently. Every time I talk to a salesperson, they tell me I should finance something new instead of paying cash for a used car. What should I do?

Ethan

Dear Ethan,

I hope you’ll keep one very important thing in mind. This is your purchase, not theirs. The only reason they want you to finance something is so they’ll make a lot more money off the deal. Forget what they want. You need to do what’s best for you.

You’ve been a hard-working, smart guy over the last few years. The fact that you’ve been able to save nearly $25,000 is proof of that. I don’t think you want to throw a big chunk of your savings—or your new income—into something that’s going to go down in value like a rock. New cars lose about 60 percent of their value during the first four years of ownership. That means a $28,000 car would be worth around $11,000 after that period. That’s not a smart investment.

If I were you, I’d shop around and pay cash for a nice, slightly used $10,000 car. You can get a great automobile for that kind of money, plus you’ll still have the majority of your savings.

Congratulations, young man. You’ve done a great job!

—Dave

Retirement contributions

Dear Dave,

As part of your Baby Steps plan, you always advise people to put 15 percent of their income toward retirement. Would you explain the details of this, please?

Mallory

Dear Mallory,

For starters, Baby Step 4 of my plan involves saving 15 percent of your gross annual pay for retirement. You don’t have to be a complete nerd about this figure. I mean, you probably won’t end up in the poor house if you set aside 12 to 14 percent. The bottom line is you should be able to save $7,500 a year if you make $50,000 annually. That’s just a little over $600 a month.

However, the only way you can do this is by giving up stupid things like credit cards and car payments. When you get out of debt, it’s easy to set aside an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses—which is Baby Step 3—and start throwing 15 percent at retirement during Baby Step 4.

Did you know you can retire a millionaire if you save 15 percent of a $50,000 a year income, and invest it in good growth stock mutual funds starting at age 30? Sounds worth it to me!

—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 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

Dave Says April 25 2019

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Before or after?

Dear Dave,

I’ve started following your plan, and I’ve got a beginner emergency fund of $1,000 saved. Now that I’m ready to start paying off debt in Baby Step 2, do you recommend paying off credit card balances before or after closing the accounts?

Maeve

Dear Maeve,

I’m really proud of you. Congratulations on starting the journey toward getting out of debt and gaining control of your money!

Honestly, either way is fine. The point is to get rid of them, and stop using the stupid things. I like the idea, and the finality, of going ahead and closing the accounts and cutting up the cards. Personal finance is 80 percent behavior. Getting credit cards—and credit card debt—out of your life is a great first step in really learning to behave with your money.

Remember, you don’t build wealth or save money by using credit cards. And you’re naïve if you think you’re going to play around with a multi-billion-dollar industry and beat them at their own game. The only way to win against credit card companies is by refusing to play around with them!

—Dave

Paying extra

Dear Dave,

I’d like to start paying a little extra each month on my car loan, so I can get out of debt faster. Would it be a good idea to write a separate check for this extra amount?

Steve

Dear Steve,

I think that’s a great idea! You can include the extra check in a separate envelope with the regular payment. In addition, write “principal only” in big, bold letters on the extra envelope and on the extra check. Make sure to also include the account number in the notation line at the bottom. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be much less likely to run into problems as result of someone at the bank not paying attention.

Some companies use payment booklets that have a box specifically for entering any amount you want applied directly to the principal. See if this is available to you, as well. Regardless, make sure you keep an accurate, written record of the monthly and overall amounts you’re designating as “principal only.”

Great question, Steve!

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money MakeoverThe Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 15 million listeners each week on 600 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.

5 ways to hit reset on your financial goals

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By Rachel Cruz

Summer is coming to an end, which means we are more than halfway through the year. What about those resolutions you made for 2018? If you’re like most people, they probably went out the window during summer vacations. We’ve all been there!

With the holidays right around the corner, now is the perfect time to hit reset on your financial goals. Before you know it, you’ll be busy booking holiday travel plans, buying gifts for loved ones and enjoying other festivities.

No matter how you’re doing, you have plenty of time to get back on track. Here are a few ways to reach your financial goals before 2018 comes to an end:

Make some adjustments

Maybe your New Year’s resolutions weren’t realistic, or you had something pop up that drained your emergency fund and slowed you down. Life happens, and it’s okay to adjust your goals. Look at where you are financially today and decide where you want to be by the end of the year. Don’t be afraid to set new goals for yourself, too. You can start making progress toward your future today. Just make sure you factor in the amount of time left in the year as you reset your goals to ensure they’re attainable.

Get back to budgeting

A budget is the most important thing when it comes to winning with money. If you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll wonder where it went! Assess how you’ve spent your money over the past few months. Look for areas where you can cut back (dining out, groceries, new clothes), and put that money toward your goals. Trust me, you’ll feel less stressed.

Plan ahead

It’s September, which means we’ll be decking the halls before you know it. At this point, you can count how many paychecks you have left until the holidays. The last thing you want to do is spend money you don’t have. In 2017, roughly 74 percent of Americans said they failed to budget properly for the holidays and racked up an average of $1,054 in debt. Plan ahead by adding a line item to your budget for holiday spending. Aside from gifts, don’t forget to factor in travel expenses, charitable giving, and parties. Start setting this money aside now so you can enjoy the holiday season guilt-free.

Stay motivated by tracking your progress

You’ve got your budget, so now you just have to make sure that you stick to it and stay motivated. Tracking your progress can be one of the most helpful ways to do this. When you can visualize your progress, you’ll be excited by those quick wins, you’ll be less tempted to spend what you don’t have, and you’ll be motivated to keep going. I’ve created a free goal tracker that you can download at www.rachelcruze.com to make this part easy and fun!

Focus on what matters

Sometimes we want things so badly they start to feel more like needs. Do you really need the newest iPhone? Do you really need to replace your outdated computer? These things are nice to have, but they’re not must-haves. With social media today, keeping up with the Joneses is harder than ever. And who would want to anyway? Don’t compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel. Focus on your goals and the things that really matter in life.

You don’t have to wait for a new year to set new goals, or make progress toward the goals you’ve already set. In order to win with your money later, you must be intentional today!

 

 

About Rachel Cruze:

As a #1 New York Times best-selling author and host of The Rachel Cruze Show, Rachel helps people learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. She’s authored three best-selling books, including Love Your Life, Not Theirs and Smart Money Smart Kids, which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey. You can follow Cruze on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelCruze and online at rachelcruze.com,youtube.com/rachelcruze or facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.

Dave Says October 11 2018

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Spending money in the budget?

Dear Dave,

We are debt-free except for our home, and we have six months of expenses set aside in our emergency fund. Every time we do our monthly budget, we set aside a small amount of personal spending money for us both. Do you see anything wrong with this?

DeAnna

Dear DeAnna,

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a little fun money calculated into your monthly budget when you’re in good financial shape. The problems start when couples don’t agree on these kinds of things — or worse — when they start hiding stuff and lying to each other about where the money’s going.

People either grow together or they grow apart when they get married. When you start hiding things from your spouse you’re essentially keeping separate lives. That’s a bad sign in any marriage, and in many cases, this kind of thing leads to divorce.

Having an agreed-upon budget isn’t just telling your money what to do. It’s also an important part of a healthy sharing and communication process between husband and wife!

—Dave

 

Close up small business?

Dear Dave,

I have a small business, and I love what I do. Unfortunately, things haven’t been going well the last several months. On top of that, I’ve committed a lot of money to advertising in the coming year. Recently, I got a great job offer from a company that would pay me twice what I’m making now. What do you think I should do?

Hugh

Dear Hugh,

If it were me, I’d want to keep my options open. Closing your business would mean giving up all your customers. I’m not sure that’s a good idea when the offer has just been made, and you know so little about the actual job.

If you think this new job is something you might like, why not accept the offer and see if you can continue your other work on the weekends? That would help cover some, if not all, of your advertising commitment. Plus, it would keep some money rolling in if the new job doesn’t work out.

If you find you like this new job, then you’ve got a great income and something you like doing on weekends that pays. If you keep your business open — even on a small scale — there’s always a chance it will begin to grow again. Who knows? It might give you the opportunity to jump back into it full-time somewhere down the road!

—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 600 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 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 October 25 2018

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Retirement or debt?

Dear Dave,

Do you think I should lower the amount I’m contributing to my 401(k) so I can pay off my house and my truck?

Jamie

Dear Jamie,

If you’re following my plan, the first thing you should do is set aside a beginner emergency fund of $1,000. That’s Baby Step 1. Next comes Baby Step 2, which means paying off all your debt except for your house. This would include your car. During this time, you should temporarily stop any kind of investing and retirement contributions.

Once your mortgage is the only debt you have left, it’s on to Baby Step 3. This means you start saving money and growing your beginner emergency fund into a fully-funded emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. When that’s done, you can attack Baby Step 4—investing 15 percent of your pre-tax income for retirement. In your case, that would mean re-starting the contributions to your 401(k).

The rest of the plan goes like this. Baby Step 5 is putting money into your kids’ college funds, if you have kids, while Baby Step 6 is putting everything you can scrape together towards paying off the house early. After that comes the real fun. Baby Step 7 is the point where you build wealth and give like crazy.

It may take a little time in some cases, but following these steps will lead you to financial peace!

—Dave

The key is serving

Dear Dave,

I just accepted my first job in sales. In your mind, what is the key to becoming an excellent salesperson?

Bobbie

Dear Bobbie,

The key to becoming a great salesperson can be summed up in one simple word—serving. I’m not talking about being subservient. I’m talking about always giving 110 percent towards ensuring customers and potential customers are served well. It’s all about being proactive.

Serving means you believe in what you represent, and you’re excited about what you have to offer. It means you’re determined to give people a great experience. If an issue happens to arise, you’ll take care of it quickly and completely. You’ll do this in a way that will make them forget it ever happened.

Really, serving is an attitude. You can pressure people if you want, but that’s going to lead to a dull and frustrating life of one-shot deals. But if you serve people well, you’ll have clients for life and they’ll send their friends and associates your way.

Make helping people your first order of business, Bobbie. If you do that, you’ll never have to worry about money!

—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 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

Dave Says November 1 2018

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Strained relationship over borrowed money?

Dear Dave,

I borrowed some money from my parents in January, and it took a few months longer to pay them back than originally planned. Since then, I’ve noticed our relationship seems to be strained. They will sometimes make remarks about money when I’m around, and it’s obvious the things they say are aimed at me. I don’t want things to be like this between us during the holidays. I have taken steps to become more financially responsible, like watching my spending and living on a budget, so how can I address this issue with them?

Robbie

Dear Robbie,

I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I hope everyone has learned a valuable lesson. It’s okay to give money sometimes, as long as you’re not enabling irresponsible behavior in the process. But loaning money to or borrowing from friends and relatives will often lead to bruised feelings.

If you paid them back, especially if it took longer than expected or agreed upon, there’s not much you can do if they choose to hold a grudge. With some folks, it just takes a little while for those kinds of things to heal. And considering it’s your parents, my guess is they’ll become more and more forgiving with time.

Until then, maybe you could look for opportunities during conversations with them to mention your new approach to finances. Something as simple as referring your budget, or getting excited about how much you were able to put into savings from your last paycheck, might get their attention. A few subtle hints that you’re actively working to gain control of your finances might go a long way with your parents.

If they realize you’re starting to handle your money more wisely, I’ll bet you’d start to notice a real difference in their attitudes!

—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 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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