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?
Ask Dave: I’m in the middle of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I’ve worked for years in the automotive industry, but lately I’ve been thinking about a different line of work. The problem is I’m afraid I will be discriminated against when applying for jobs because of the bankruptcy filing. I think the government has given businesses the permission to look at my financial history. Do you have any suggestions?
Ask Dave: We’re working the debt snowball, and together my husband and I make $93,000 a year. The amounts of our remaining three debts are so close we wonder if we should take interest rates into account. Two are student loans for $2,970 and $6,700, while the other is credit card debt in the amount of $4,750. I also got a recent bonus of $3,600. Should we put that toward our debt snowball?
Ask Dave: My husband and I make $180,000 a year combined, and we have a net worth of about $1.6 million. We’ve been blessed financially, and lots of times motivated by a survival point of view, but what do you do when you’re not motivated by that kind of thing anymore? How do you find and live out God’s purpose for your life?
Ask Dave: My parents left their six-figure jobs to enter the ministry when I was in high school. That was 10 years ago, and my mom still regularly asks me to share my money with them. My mom also tries to make me feel bad sometimes if I can’t afford to give them as much as they want. How can I stop this pattern?
Ask Dave: I make $38,000 a year working in the trade show industry, and I’m about to start Baby Step 3. It took 14 months to pay off $8,000 in debt for Baby Step 2, so I’m wondering how long it should take to save up my three to six months of expenses. I’ve also not done a lot toward retirement. I’m 52, and I’m worried about that. How can I stay motivated in the Baby Steps and handle retirement worries?
Ask Dave: In 15 months I’ll be able to buy in as a shareholder of my firm, about 1.5 percent of the company. I make $100,000 annually, and it will cost me three times my income, but it could increase my income by as much as $40,000 a year. I know that you discourage single-stock investing, but do you think this is a good idea?
Ask Dave: My husband and I are retired, we both receive nice pensions, and we owe $46,000 on our home. This is our only debt. I’m 65, he is 82, and we have more than $800,000 in variable annuities, along with substantial cash in savings. We also have $200,000 combined in life insurance coverage. If we cancel these two policies we can pay down an extra $10,000 a year on the house. Should we cancel the life insurance policies?
Ask Dave: My mom and dad filed bankruptcy recently and are on a fixed income of $2,200 a month. They gave up their house, and my wife and I helped them find an apartment. We’re also trying to give them other help while they’re getting back on their feet. The problem is, we’re paying off debt and trying to get our own finances in better shape. I think my sister should help out some, too, but I’m not sure how to approach her about this.
Ask Dave: My son is going off to college soon, but he’s never had a job. His uncle has offered him a really nice, low mileage used car for $3,000. My husband doesn’t want us to give him money for the car, but I think this deal is just too good to pass up. What do you think?
Ask Dave: I’m 19 years old, and I’m putting myself through college debt-free. I usually work part time during the semesters, but right now I’m working full time. I have about $2,000 in mutual funds, and I was wondering if I should add my full-time work income to that or save it all to help pay for school.
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.