Ask Dave: We have three preschool grandchildren, and they get tons of stuff for Christmas every year. We’re in really good shape financially and would like to do something for their future this year instead of giving a toy that might get thrown in the corner. Do you have any suggestions?
Ask Dave: I’ve been out of college for a few years, and I have no debt. I’d like to start investing, so I’m thinking about buying a triplex, living in one of the apartments, and renting the other two. Should I get an interest-only loan for this?
Ask Dave: I work for a small company that just won a cruise trip for all the employees. The prize covers just the cruise tickets, and we have to pay for everything else. The problem is that my wife and I currently have more than $50,000 in debt, not counting our home, and about $10,000 of that is in collections. We’re trying to fix our finances and start saving money, but we just don’t feel like we should take a trip right now. How do I tell my boss?
Ask Dave: I’m about to turn in my two-week notice after 17 years with my company. It’s a small business, and everyone is like family, but the last raise I received was 50 cents and that was 10 years ago. I’ve always worked hard and done my job well, but I need to move on to a better-paying position I’ve found. Do you have any advice on how to handle this situation?
Ask Dave: My wife and I are on Baby Step 2 of your plan, and I’m in graduate school while working full-time. We’re trying to cash flow my education from this point forward after previously taking out student loans. Our household income is $90,000 a year, and we have a car payment. Are we taking the correct approach to handle all this responsibly?
Ask Dave: I make $2,100 a month after taxes, and I have accumulated $46,000 in credit card debt. My husband makes more than I do, but he won’t help me. He says I got myself into this mess, so it’s my job to stop being irresponsible and fix it on my own. Do you have any advice?
Ask Dave: My wife and I recently sat through a timeshare pitch at my mom and dad’s community as a favor to them. We’re trying to get out of debt and take control of our money, so when the salesman said we could put the whole thing on a credit card, I told him about you and your plan.
Ask Dave: I’m 19 years old, and I just got kicked out of the house after wrecking my dad’s truck. I’ve got a job making $12 an hour working about 40 hours a week, and I’m currently living with a friend at his apartment. I have a goal of going to college, and I’d like to get out of my friend’s place as soon as possible. Do you have any advice some someone just starting out?
Ask Dave: My wife and I make $100,000 a year combined, and we have about $12,000 in credit card debt. We also owe another $80,000 in student loans, and our kids’ private school education costs $1,000 a month. Is it okay for me to take a loan against my 401(k), which is invested in mutual funds, to clean up the credit card bills?
Ask Dave: Our three kids are enrolled in a private Christian school. It’s a great place, and we truly believe our kids are getting a wonderful, faith-based education, but the tuition is pretty expensive. We’ve already had to start digging into our savings to make this happen, and the kids are only in elementary school. Should we keep them enrolled, or should we transfer them to public school?
Ask Dave: My husband and I had to rent a car on a recent trip to Florida. When we tried to pay with our debit card, the attendant told us he would have to pull our credit report if we used debit instead of credit. He said all rental car companies operate that way, because there was concern about people stealing the cars and closing their checking accounts. Is this true? We’re trying to take control of our money using your plan, and we don’t want to get a credit card if we don’t have to.
Ask Dave: I’m a recently retired widow, and my husband always took care of most of our finances. We never had any debt, but after starting to learn a little bit about how money works, I’m worried that there may be too much of it invested in CDs (certificates of deposit). The total nest egg is a little over $1.5 million, with $300,000 of that in CDs. There’s also a $317,000 annuity, a 403(b) and around $900,000 in IRA mutual funds. I also have two homes and a new car that are paid for. How do you think I should handle things going forward?
Ask Dave: I make $25,000 a year, and I’m single. I expect my salary to increase to $35,000 next year, so can I get by with a $500 starter emergency fund instead of $1,000? I have about $38,000 in debt right now, including student loans, and I don’t know how to keep up with bills and everything if I try saving a bigger emergency fund.
Ask Dave: My wife and I are on Baby Step 3 of your plan, and we’re about halfway to building our fully funded emergency fund. We don’t like our current home very much, and we’d like to sell and move as soon as possible. We have a little over $30,000 equity in the place, so would selling the house be a viable option for funding Baby Step 3?
Ask Dave: Our daughter is a special needs child, who doctors say will live about half as long as the average adult. There’s also a good chance she will be under our care her entire life. We just finished Baby Step 3 of your plan, so we have all of our debt paid off except for the house, and we have an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses saved. We have health insurance, too. However, we were wondering how the situation with our little girl affects retirement planning and college funding?
Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert, popular national radio personality and the author of four New York Times bestsellers. His life's work is teaching others how to be financially responsible, so they can acquire enough wealth to take care of loved ones, live prosperously into old age, and give generously to others. You can listen and watch his show online at DaveRamsey.com.