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Dave Ramsey Says February 22 2018

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Debt and income crisis

Dear Dave,

I received a call the other day from a company saying it could negotiate the balance on my credit cards to a lesser amount. The caller also said they could get me a zero-percent interest rate until the debts were paid off, and then the accounts would be closed. I’m kind of starting over again financially, because I sold a company I had run for almost 15 years, then got into real estate and lost almost everything. I’m making just enough to squeeze by, and my credit card debt totals $40,000. Would this be a good idea?

Bill

Dear Bill,

No, this is not a good idea. You’re looking at two major problems with a company such as this one. One, they will absolutely destroy whatever credit you may have. Their plan is to take your cash, and spend some time beating down the credit card companies until they agree to accept a lesser amount. Then, they use your cash to settle loans you will have — by that time —defaulted on. This will put you in a situation very similar to if you had filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Stay away from these people.

You have an income crisis, in addition to a debt crisis, at this point. For starters, I want you to start living on a tight, written, monthly budget. I’m talking rice and beans, no vacations, and no eating out until you pay off this debt. Where your income is concerned, maybe you should consider getting back into the kind of business you ran previously for a while. Look for a managerial or supervisory position in that area, at least until you’re able to get back on your feet and save some cash.

Finally, cut up the credit cards, close the accounts, and put as much money as you can spare toward paying off that debt using the debt snowball system. Never go back into debt again!

—Dave

Pay off house first?

Dear Dave,

My husband and I are in our forties. We have no children, and we bring home $95,000 a year combined. We’re also debt-free except for our home. We owe just $10,000 on the house, and can take care of that in a few months. Would it be okay to rearrange the Baby Steps a bit, and pay off our home before getting serious about saving for retirement?

Nan

Dear Nan,

I don’t usually give folks any wiggle room when it comes to sticking with the proper order of the Baby Steps. But if you’re that close to being completely debt-free, I don’t see anything wrong with paying off the house first.

Most people I talk to still have anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 left on their mortgages. This is a little bit different story, however, and you two are obviously managing your money well.

Knock out that mortgage, and start pouring at least 15 percent of your income intoretirement. You’re going to love the feeling — and the freedom — that comes with being completely debt-free!

—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 June 14 2018

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No obligation here

Dear Dave,

My father died recently. He walked out of my life 25 years ago when I was a teenager, and he never wanted anything to do with me after that. His brothers, who have already paid for some of his final expenses, asked if I wanted to pay to have his body cremated. They didn’t ask for money, they just offered it as a chance to be part of things. I’m in good shape financially, and I could easily afford the cost. Morally, I wonder if I have a responsibility to help with things. Do you feel I’m obligated in any way?

Julie

Dear Julie,

I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sorry, too, about what happened with your father. I can’t imagine the mixed emotions you must have in your heart.

When someone asks me a question like this, I try to put myself in their shoes. Under the circumstances, I don’t think you have any obligation whatsoever — morally or legally — to help pay for anything. If you want to help, and you can afford to do so, then follow your heart. At the same time, I don’t think you should lose one wink of sleep over this if you decide not to contribute.

Twenty-five years is long, long time. I don’t know your dad, and I have no clue about his situation or state of mind back then and in the time since. I can’t imagine doing that to a child of any age, though.

Do what you feel in your heart is best. But in my opinion, there’s no obligation here. God bless you, Julie.

—Dave

Step by step

Dear Dave,

When is the right time to buy a house when someone is following your Baby Steps plan?

Samuel

Dear Samuel,

That’s a good question. Let’s start by going over the first few Baby Steps.

Baby Step 1 is saving $1,000 for a beginner emergency fund. Baby Step 2 is paying off all consumer debt, from smallest to largest, using the debt snowball. Baby Step 3 is where you increase your emergency fund to the point where you have three to six months of expenses set aside.

Once you’ve done all that you can begin saving for a home. I’ll call it Baby Step 3b. For folks looking to buy a house, I advise saving enough money for a down payment of at least 20 percent. I don’t beat people up over mortgage debt, but I do advise them to get a 15-year, fixed rate loan, where the payments are no more than 25 percent of their monthly take-home pay.

Doing it this way may take a little more time, and delay your dream of becoming a homeowner a bit, but buying a house when you’re broke is the quickest way I know to turn something that should be a blessing into a burden!

—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.

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 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 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.

Dave Ramsey Says November 8 2018

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Wait on the honeymoon?

Dear Dave,

My fiancé and I are getting married in three weeks, but he lost his job as an experienced HVAC technician at a hospital a few days ago. Do you think we should still go on a honeymoon, or wait until things are more stable? I’m on Baby Step 3 of your plan, and I make $56,000 a year. I also have $7,000 in an emergency fund. He was making $64,000 a year, and he’s on Baby Step 2 with about $10,000 in car debt remaining. We have $3,000 already set aside for the trip, plus another $2,000 we were planning to put toward fixing up his place.

Corina

Dear Corina,

First, congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I hope you two will have long and happy lives together.

Usually, I’m not a big fan of spending when someone loses a job. But I think your situation is a little different than most. You’re both serious about dumping debt and getting control of your finances. Plus, you’re working together, and you’ve already got a nice chunk of cash parked in the bank. That tells me you’re both wise enough to know the importance of saving.

Your guy can find another job in a couple of weeks, considering his field and experience. Companies everywhere are hiring people right now, and the economy is booming! If he gets out there and really busts it looking for another position leading up to the wedding, I think you two will be fine. He might even be able to work it out to start right after the honeymoon.

You two have some financial padding, his job is an easy one to replace, and his income will be restored soon if he’ll just get out there and make it happen. Go on the honeymoon, and have a wonderful time. God bless you both!

—Dave

 

Dental insurance for the kids?

Dear Dave,

Should I keep buying dental insurance for my kids, or is it just a gimmick?

Brenda,

Dear Brenda,

Dental insurance is one of those things where it’s easy to see that the payout is greater than the return. We’ve had dental insurance proposed to us at my company several times as an employee benefit, but when you add up what you pay for it you’ll find you rarely spend that much on dentistry. In many cases, I advise self-insuring for dental care.

Now, there is a dental discount company I highly recommend called 1Dental.com. This kind of thing is worth it. As a member, you get discounted rates on dental work when you visit an in-network provider. I’ve gotten to know the folks behind this organization, too, and they’re great people.

Hope this helps, Brenda!

* 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 June 7 2018

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Take care of the basics

Dear Dave,

I just graduated from college, and I’ll be starting my first real job soon. What can young adults, who are just getting started, do to avoid money problems now and in the future?

Ben

Dear Ben,

Congratulations! I’m glad you realize the importance of being responsible with your money and planning for things down the road.

There are three or four important things a recent college graduate — or anyone, really — can do to make the most of their money and protect themselves financially. The first is to always live on budget. When you write down a budget on paper, and give every dollar a name before the month begins, it helps you know what your money is doing instead of leaving you in a situation where you’re wondering where it went.

Two more important practices are saving money and staying out of debt. Your income is your biggest wealth-building tool. When you’re saddled with debt, your money goes to creditors instead of into your pocket. Saving money prepares you for all the things life will throw at you — both good and bad.

One more thing I’d include is investing. I know you’re young, but you still need to think about life after retirement. If you start investing just a little bit each month now in good mutual funds, you could easily retire a millionaire.

These are all very simple, basic things, Ben. But they’ll make a huge difference in your financial situation now and in the years to come!

—Dave

Creativity is the key

Dear Dave,

How do you have a wedding without debt?

Brooklyn

Dear Brooklyn,

It’s pretty simple. To have a wedding without debt you must be creative and think within your budget. In other words, you pay for a wedding with the money you have.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a small, inexpensive wedding. Once you realize and understand that fact, and start thinking about things with a budget in mind, you’ll realize you can scrimp and save and still have a great small wedding. Lots of people have beautiful ceremonies, and even small receptions, for well under $1,000.

Sure, you can go into debt by renting the fanciest venue, and buying a $9,000 wedding dress to wear for just a few hours on one day. Or, you can realize it’s not the place and the clothes that make a wedding special. What about an outdoor wedding at a friend or family member’s house? When it comes to a dress you can opt for something simple and inexpensive, or even one that has been worn once, for just a few hundred dollars. If you think that’s awful, let me tell you something that’s worse — going tens of thousands of dollars into debt for an event that lasts just a few hours!

Most people don’t have lavish, expensive weddings, and guess what? Years down the road they’re still happily married, very much in love, and they look back on their wedding as the best day of their lives.

—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.

Dave Ramsey Says June 18 2018

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Stop playing with silver and gold and pay off that debt!

Dear Dave,

I make about $240,000 annually, and I will be maxing out my 401(k) contributions this year. I have $60,000 in student loan debt I’m trying to pay off, a small amount left on my home mortgage, plus I’ve been investing in a lot of gold and silver. Those investments are worth about $30,000 right now. In addition to this, I’ve got $10,000 in cash just sitting in a savings account for emergencies. Should I stop the gold and silver investing, and focus on paying off the loans, or keep splitting my money between them?

Adam

Dear Adam,

I’d stop investing in gold and silver completely. I don’t put money in precious metals at all, because they have a lousy long-term track record.

My advice would be to cash out every bit of your gold and silver, and put the money toward paying off your student loans. That would instantly cut your student loan debt in half. Then, with your salary, you should be able to pay off the rest in just a few months.

The key will be to start living on a very strict budget. Don’t spend on anything that’s not absolutely necessary. I also want you to temporarily stop contributing to your 401(k). Do this just until you get the student loan debt wiped out, then pick it up again like before. If you want to put even more toward retirement, you could check with a quality investment professional — one with the heart of a teacher — to see if you’re eligible for a back-door Roth IRA. When it’s all said and done, Adam, I want you to have 15 percent of your yearly income going toward retirement.

You already know the value of saving and investing. With your income, once you knock out your debt and begin investing again, you have the very real potential to become a millionaire in just a few years!

—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.S

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.

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.

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