Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Conversations I'd Like to Have with Dave Ramsey

Rob and I were first introduced to Dave Ramsey by some of our friends who gave us his book, Total Money Makeover as a wedding present. Our first mistake was that we did not read this book before we were married. Our second mistake was that we read his book after we had financed a (newish) car.

But, we were still able to get back on track after these two set-backs. We have our monthly meetings, and we budget out everything for the month. In the process of managing our money, I have become somewhat of a Dave Ramsey fan fanatic. I regularly listen to his radio show; I receive his email updates, and I often ask myself "What would Dave do?" when trying to make financial decisions. However, I do have some things I would like to discuss with him.  I tried to use the online "submit a question" form, but I never heard back. So in hopes that some of my readers may have some ideas, I thought I would post the conversation topics that I would often like to discuss with Dave Ramsey here:

Question 1: I have a Masters degree in Literature, but I have been unable to get any full-time job related to my degree. (Dear Reader, please DO NOT get a Masters in Literature.)  Do you recommend I go back to school and get a more useful degree or should I continue to look within my area of education.

Question 2: I know that in baby step 2, (you can read all of Dave Ramsey's steps to financial freedom here or hear him explain it himself in the video below) Dave suggests you pay off all debt, minus your mortgage, using the debt snowball. According to Ramsey, the debt snowball is where you make minimum payments on all debts, and then put all your extra monthly income toward the smallest debt. Once you have the smallest debt paid off, you continue to use this method until you have paid off all your debts. However, the debt snowball assumes that you own a house. If you do not own a house, Dave recommends saving for a down payment after you have completed step 3 which is having "3 to 6 months Expenses in Saving." However, I think this is way too conservative. Yes-- buying a house is a big financial commitment. But at this point in the economy, so is living in a 2 bedroom apartment. Surely there can be a happy compromise here Dave. Every month for a 2 bedroom apartment in our city, we would spend in excess of $1000. That would be $12,000 a year that could be going toward a mortgage.

Question 3: This question relates to question 2. The other day on the radio show, a couple called in for their debt free scream. In other words, they had paid off all their debt, including their house & student loan debt, in four years. This couple was only 27, and they had been following Dave's steps for about 4 years. Dave congratulated them profusely and rightly so, but he didn't say anything to the fact that they owned a house while they still had student loan debt. This begs the question--isn't it possible to pay off student loan debt while owning / buying a house?

Question 4: I really admire how Dave Ramsey has helped millions of people get their finances together. But sometimes when I am listening I feel like I have done something wrong with my life, with my finances. When I was 20 something, I wasn't really saving for the future; I was doing non-profit work in China. Does this make me irresponsible or careless with my money? I don't think so. I was frugal and paid attention to my finances; I lived and traveled within my means. However, I certainly did not get ahead financially. Some of my friends who have also returned to China are in similar situations as me. I would love for Dave to give some perspective & advice to this group of people: what can we do now that we have some career and financial gaps in our lives?

From one of your biggest fans,


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