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Dave Says: Control Your Mind and Money

MARCH 5, 2024

Dear Dave,
I’m trying to work my way out of debt, but it seems like something always

happens to stall things or knock me backwards. I make $55,000 a year, I’m single and I have
$15,000 in debt, along with a mortgage payment of $1,224 a month. I’ve been
trying to live on a budget, but I’m still not sure where all my money goes. Can you help?

Dear Lindley,
I know living on a budget can be hard at first. And honestly, it usually takes folks who are new to doing it about three or four months of practice before they start getting it right and seeing the results.

For starters, your house payment is a little heavy for someone making $55,000 a year. I generally recommend keeping your mortgage or rent payment at about 25% of your take-home pay. Sometimes you can slide by paying a little more, but in those cases, you’d really have to be on top of your finances. So, the biggest thing you can do right now is take control of your money, instead of letting it—or a lack of it—control you. And the best way to make all this happen is by consistently living on a realistic, written monthly budget.

Once you start doing this, you’ve taken your first big step toward having a real gameplan for your money. At that point, the idea of trying to live on a budget ends, and the fact that you are living on a budget, and telling your money what to do—instead of a lack of it dictating what you can do—becomes more of a reality.

Remember the Star Wars movie “The Empire Strikes Back”? At one point during Luke’s training, Yoda tells him, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” In a larger sense, Yoda is urging Luke to focus and work harder, instead of continuing with half-hearted attempts and giving up easily. If you want to accomplish a difficult task, Lindley, you have to throw yourself into it completely. You must fully commit, and stop making excuses. You have to focus, and fight to make it happen.

It’s no fun waking up broke at the end of every pay period. We both know this. So, put your head down and get your mind in gear. Make. This. Happen.

You can do it!
— Dave

* Dave Ramsey is an eight-time national bestselling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people take control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for Ramsey Solutions.