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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dave Ramsey Says February 8, 2018

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Quit job for school?

Dear Dave,

My wife and I have $72,000 in debt from student loans and a car loan. We’re trying to pay off our debt using the debt snowball system, and we each make about $45,000 a year. She’s a teacher, and she’s planning on going back to school for her master’s degree, but she’s thinking about quitting her job to do this. She’ll be able to make more money with the additional education, and she would only be unemployed for two years. The degree program will cost us $2,000 out of pocket per semester for two years. Does this sound like a good idea?

Chris

Dear Chris,

There’s no reason for your wife to quit her job to make this happen. Lots of people — especially teachers — hold down their jobs and go back to school to further their education. I’m not sure trying to make it on one income when you’re that deep in debt is a good idea.

Whatever you do, don’t borrow more money to make this happen. Cash flow it, or don’t do it. We’re talking about $8,000 total, and you’ve got $72,000 in debt hanging over your heads already. My advice would be to wait until you’ve got the other debt knocked out, then save up and pay cash for school. You could slow down your debt snowball, and use some of that to pay for school, but I’d hate to see you lose the momentum you have when it comes to getting out of debt.

The choice is yours, but don’t tack on anymore student loan debt. I know her income will go up with a master’s degree, so from that standpoint it’s a good thing to do. But if you do a good thing a dumb way, it ends up being dumb!

—Dave

Pre-planning explained

Dear Dave,

My grandmother passed away a week ago. She was 98, and I know both she and my grandfather had pre-paid for their funerals in 2004. However, there were outstanding costs of $1,500 with the funeral services we had to pay out of pocket, because she had outlived the insurance policy attached to the pre-payment plan. I know you say it’s always better to pre-plan, not pre-pay, for a funeral. Can you refresh my understanding of this?

Rebecca

Dear Rebecca,

Let’s use a round figure, and say the cost of a funeral is $10,000. What would $10,000 grow to 25 years from now if it were invested in a good mutual fund? Now, juxtapose that number with the increase in the cost of a funeral over that time. The average inflation rate of consumer-purchased items is around four percent. So, the cost of funerals, on average, has risen about four percent a year. By comparison, you could’ve invested that money, and it would’ve grown at 10 or 12 percent in a good mutual fund.

Now understand, I’m not knocking folks who are in the funeral business. But lots of businesses that provide these services realize more margin in selling pre-paid policies than they do in caskets. In other words, they don’t make as much money selling the casket as they do selling a pre-paid policy on the casket.

Do you understand my reasoning? If we knew the exact date she pre-paid, and how much she pre-paid, that figure invested in a good mutual fund would be a whole lot more than the cost of a reasonable funeral. It’s the same principle behind the reason I advise folks to not pre-pay college, or just about anything else, that’s likely far into the future. The money you could’ve made on the investment is a lot more than the value of pre-paying. Pre-planning, on the other hand, is a great idea for many things — including funerals.

I’m truly sorry for your loss, Rebecca. God bless you all.

—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 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 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 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 Says September 18 2018

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Sell personal car to help pay business debt?

Dear Dave,

My husband started his own one-man, small business as a handyman a little less than a year ago. He has netted $17,000 in that time, but the business has about $13,000 worth of debt. We’ve always kept personal finances and business separate, but what would you think about us selling one of our paid-for cars to help with the business debt?

Robin

Dear Robin,

There’s nothing wrong with small beginnings. On top of that, you should always keep your business and personal finances separate. Aside from the debt, it sounds like he’s off to a good start.

I think you’ll be able to pay off the debt from your future income. If your husband started his business less than a year ago, he has spent that time trying to get things off the ground and working with very little name recognition. If he’s good at what he does, and he continues to work hard and market himself properly, he should be able to double what he made in the last year.

To do that, however, he’s going to have to spend some time in accountant mode. He needs to figure out the types of jobs he makes the most money on for the time he puts into them. I know a guy in our area who made more than $100,000 as a handyman in the last year. I’m talking about $100,000 in profit! His prices are higher than most in that line of work, but he’s the best. He provides superb quality work, and he’s always polite, on time, and on schedule.

If your husband does the research and crunches some numbers, I think he can dial it in and make a lot more moneythan he’s making now. Find that sweet spot, and he’ll continue to grow the business!

—Dave

Forgive the debt?

Dear Dave,

Recently, I loaned some money to a good friend. He’s going to help me with a big home project over the next few weekends, so do you think I should pay him for the work or forgive the debt?

Marvin

Dear Marvin,

First, I don’t recommend loaning money to friends or family. Once in a while, things may work out and everyone ends up happy. But in most cases, it changes the dynamic of the relationship. The Bible says the borrower is a slave to the lender, and there’s a lot of truth in that — financially and emotionally.

The big question is whether you’ve already agreed to pay him for the work. Another consideration is how he views the situation. He may be looking at this as just helping a buddy, and he still owes the money.

Ask him what his expectations are before you guys start the job. Just talk to him, and figure out what seems fair to you both. If you’ve already agreed on a certain amount, and the value of the work is close to what you loaned him, you might discuss the idea of paying back the debt that way.

But in the future, if someone close to you really needs financial help — and you’re not enabling bad behavior in the process — just make the money a gift.

—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 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 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 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 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 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.

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