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Dave Says – Getting motivated

Need some financial advice? Debt and income crisis? Pay off the house mortgage first? Check cashing? Taxes? Credit Cards? Check out what folks are asking Dave Ramsey.


Getting motivated

Dear Dave,
My wife is so charged up after reading your books, and now she is determined to get us out of debt. I know this is good idea, but I just don’t have the passion for it she does. There are also some things I really don’t want to give up. Do you have some suggestions for getting motivated?


Dear Ken,
Goals and dreams always have a better chance of coming true if you have a written game plan. Sit down with your wife at the beginning of each month, and help her do a written budget. Give every dollar a name on paper before you spend anything.

Contrary to popular belief, doing a budget is not torture. It’s also not just a math exercise. It’s an opportunity for you both to have input on what you want to accomplish in life and how to make it happen. After two people are married they become “as one.” And that’s how decisions should be made in a marriage—facing all the problems, dreams, and fears together.

Once you sit down and do a budget, I think you’ll see where you can cut back and make things happen that you thought were impossible before. You may have to give up a few things for a little while, but when you see how quickly you can get ahead by making your money behave, I’ve got a feeling you’ll get excited about the possibilities!
— Dave

Kids and money

Dear Dave,
We’ve followed your advice and put our kids on commissions instead of allowances. The problem is our 8-year-old. He never buys anything, and he seems to be very frugal by nature. Do you have any advice for teaching him it is okay to spend money sometimes?


Dear Stephen,
You’re absolutely right for wanting to teach him wise spending habits. Each of us has the personality of being either a saver or a spender. As parents, we should help our kids grow in areas where they have weaknesses, and find ways to enhance their strengths.

Give him praise for being such a good saver, but gently encourage him to spend a little, too. Spending is one of the rewards of work and disciplined saving. You might urge him to pick out something he really wants, and help him make a plan to save enough money to buy that item. Once he has enough money for the purchase, turn it into a celebration of reaching that goal.

There are three things you can do with money—spend it, save it, and give it to others. Focusing too much, or too little, on any of these is not financially or spiritually healthy.


Helping is often more than just giving

Dear Dave,

My husband and I met a young woman through an outreach program at church. She is a single mother with a small child, and recently she asked us for money, so she could buy baby food and diapers. This isn’t the first time she has asked us for money. In the past, she has used money we’ve given her to buy alcohol for herself after telling us it was going to be used for the baby. She truly does need financial help, though. Can you give us some advice on handling this situation?



Dear Angela,

Financially speaking, her problem sounds as much like a mismanagement of money as it is a lack of money. That, and she seems to have an issue with lying. If you’re determined to help this woman, you can put conditions on your help designed to improve her decision-making abilities and her life.

If someone is bold enough to ask for your money, you have every right to attach requirements to the money for their own good. One of two things will happen if you handle it this way. She’ll either graciously accept your conditions and welcome the help, or she’ll get angry and say you have no right interfering in her business. I’ve never had a problem helping people who have good hearts and just need a break. But if someone cops an attitude with me in a situation like this, I wouldn’t be breaking out my wallet anytime soon.

If you choose to do this, make the money a gift and not a loan. Concentrate on trying to get her on a path where she’s a little more honest with you and thinks a little straighter. Hopefully, as a result she will start making better choices. Teach her how to create and live off a budget, or help her enroll in a personal finance course, too. Right now, just handing her money is like giving a drunk a drink.

This whole situation is a lot bigger than helping someone with baby food and diapers. The answer to that is easy. In this case, however, I’d probably give it to her in the form of a gift card. Some of those don’t allow alcohol purchases. You could avoid that possibility, too, by getting things for the baby yourself and taking them to her.

In many cases, truly helping someone is a lot more work than just throwing money at them. Sometimes, you have to get down in their mess, get real with them, and walk with them.

— Dave


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