Dear Dave,

My husband recently approached me with an idea for our money. He wants us to set up an account where we both put 10% of our income for discretionary spending.

My husband makes more money than I do and, because of this, he says it is fair that he would be able to spend more than I would. How do you feel about this?    —Liz

Dear Liz,

I’m sure deep down he’s a decent guy and he loves you very much. But he’s looking at this all wrong. Right now, he’s being pretty immature and selfish about the whole situation. It’s a bad plan.

Let’s look at this from another angle. There are lots of families where only one person works outside the home and generates an income. Would it be fair, then, to say only the person making money is allowed a little cash to spend for fun once in a while? No way.

When two people are married, they are pronounced “as one.” That means even if you only have one person with an income, it becomes our income. If you have kids, they become our kids. See where I’m going with this? Marriage is not a me thing, it’s a we thing. Always.

—Dave

BEFORE

OR AFTER?

Dear Dave,

When it comes to paying off credit cards and getting out of debt, I’ve heard you talk about cutting up the cards and closing the accounts. Should I pay off the balances before or after I close the accounts?    —Adrian

Dear Adrian,

I like the idea of cutting up the cards and closing the accounts first. Sometimes credit card companies will respond to this by jacking up the interest rates, or doing other shady things, but the point is to get them out of your life as quickly as possible and stop using the stupid things.

Personal finance is 80% behavior. Ridding yourself of credit cards, and getting credit card debt out of your life for good, is a great first step in learning to behave with your money.

You don’t build wealth or save money by using credit cards, no matter what anyone says. If you’re naïve enough to think you’re going to play around with a multi-billion-dollar industry and beat them at their own game, you’re sadly mistaken.

The only way to win against credit card companies is by refusing to play their game!

—Dave

FRIEND WANTS TO BE A TENANT

Dear Dave,

I own a duplex that has an opening for a tenant, and an old college buddy wants to rent the apartment.

He has always been a good friend, but I’m a little worried about the possible effects on our friendship if business is brought into the picture. Do you have any advice?    —Justin

Dear Justin,

You can make this work, but you’ll both need to be careful. It’s going to take a lot of honesty and maturity from you both.

Doing business with friends always comes with the risk of running into a situation that can damage the relationship. Am I saying never do business with friends? Of course not.

I do a lot of business with friends. I just make sure all the specific requirements and expectations of the business relationship are laid out in clear detail, in writing, and fully understood by both parties before a deal is struck.

Sometimes, friends have unrealistic expectations when it comes to doing business together. The friend who’s renting may think the friend who is the landlord will give him a pass if the rent is late, and on a dozen other things.

The friend who is the landlord may think the renter will be a perfect tenant, because they’re friends, and find out the hard way his buddy’s a slob who doesn’t respect and take care of the property.

All these things should be ironed out ahead of time and before the agreement is signed. You might want to make sure, too, he understands the need to come talk to you if a situation arises where he may be late with a payment, or not be able to pay the rent one month.

Most issues like this can be worked out, but he needs to understand — and it’s your job to tell him ahead of time, in a kind-but-firm manner — you’re not running a charity.

Just be friendly, straightforward and businesslike. If you have to enforce the rules, do it consistently and with fairness. Likewise, if a situation pops up where a little grace and understanding are appropriate, provide those as well.    —Dave

WORK TOGETHER, BE INTENTIONAL

Dear Dave,

My husband is a union member and works at a paint factory near our home. His union’s current contract will expire in nine months. We have about $27,000 of debt left to pay off, and he makes a little more than $80,000 a year.

I’m nervous because his slow season is coming up between now and then. During this time, he usually gets about half the hours — and, of course, less money — than he does during the rest of the year.

I’m a little scared, even though there hasn’t been a strike in the last six years. Do you think we should go ahead and pay off our remaining debt or hold onto every penny in case they walk out?

— Cheyanne

Dear Cheyanne,

I’m going to tell you something that might just blow your mind: You two can pay off the debt and have some money set aside to live on in that length of time.

If you do that, you’ll actually be more ready for a strike than ever before. You’ll both have to be on the same page financially and do things with a sense of urgency, but right now, I don’t think you’ve got too much to worry about.

The likelihood of them going on strike is pretty low. Chances are, they’re just rattling their sabers and talking big to posture for the negotiations. Most factories are behind right now, and the last thing they want is to get even further behind.

Everything has been so screwed up by COVID-19 that unless the union demands some completely ridiculous stuff, things will probably work out fine.

I think you guys are going to be fine, Cheyanne. Should you be intentional and thoughtful about the situation? Absolutely. It’s always wise to look ahead and plan for the future.

Getting that debt paid off and saving up a bunch of cash will give you real peace of mind.

—Dave

DAVE RAMSEY has written seven best-selling books. Since 1992, he has helped people regain control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. More than 18 million radio listeners hear him each week. Follow him at daveramsey.com.

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