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Monday, December 17, 2018

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Ramsey Says March 8 2018

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Layoff insurance?

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

Steve

Dear Steve,

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

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

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

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

—Dave

Dear Dave,

Keep it in your own pocket!

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

James

Dear James,

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

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

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

—Dave

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

 

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 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.

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