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Monday, February 18, 2019

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 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 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 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 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.

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 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 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 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 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.

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