By Dave Ramsey
Q: My wife and I are on Baby Step 2 of your plan, and we’re paying off our debt. I’ve been trying to sell my motorcycle and listed it for $5,000 on Craigslist. The other day, a guy offered me $2,000 cash and a boat for the bike. I’ve always really wanted a boat, but I’m not sure this is the time. And the money would only make a small dent in our debt. Would this kind of deal be legal in the Dave Ramsey universe?
A: It’s an interesting deal, but at this stage of the game I think you have to ask yourself what your goal is. If it’s to get a boat, then you’ve accomplished that goal. However, if your goal is to get out of debt, this deal doesn’t get you where you want to be. Plus, it could add even more expense and hassle to your life. Upkeep and maintenance on some boats can really add up.
But this is your universe, not Dave’s. In my mind, getting out of debt comes first. There’s plenty of time later for you to save up and buy a nice boat after you get control of your finances. In this scenario, you’re simply trading one recreational vehicle for another.
If you’re on Baby Step 2, it means you’ve already got $1,000 in the bank for emergencies and have moved on to paying off all your debt, except for your home. This tells me you guys are motivated, but the idea of a boat has caused your resolve to waver a little.
So, if you’re looking for someone to tell you to forget the boat and stay on track with getting control of your lives and money, then I’m your guy. Don’t do the deal.
Q: I’m trying to convince my husband to leave his debit card at home when he goes to work. He says he wants it for emergencies, but he’s always using it for other things. I’d rather him just carry a very small amount of cash so he’s not so tempted. What do you think?
A: I understand your concern, but I think you’re wrong on this one. I carry my debit card with me everywhere I go, and I want my wife to do the same. What your husband needs to stop doing is having “emergencies.” The translation? Stop the impulse spending.
Now, this could be happening for several reasons. It could be that he’s a good guy, but he’s just not paying attention to how much he’s spending. On the other hand, you guys may not be budgeting for fairly reasonable thing – like if he wants to eat out for lunch once in a while.
But even if he’s not using it, he should still be carrying a debit card. I mean, what if he has a real, actual emergency? The idea that you shouldn’t carry a debit card just because of impulse spending isn’t a good plan. Things like that aren’t debit card problems. They’re either maturity problems or a lack of realistic budget planning.
Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.