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Dave Says: A Big Mess & More Harm Than Good

FEBRUARY 13, 2024

Dear Dave,
I’m a single mom, and I opened my own small business last year. The business isn’t growing at all, and my mom and dad are helping me with the bills. On top of all this, I don’t receive any child support payments from my ex-husband. But my biggest concern is our home. I bought it four years ago, and when I opened my business, I did it with a home equity loan. Do you have any advice?

Dear Tammy,
You need to close up your business, at least temporarily, and go find some money-making work. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you’ve got a really big mess on your hands.

Long story short, the money you make at another full-time job is likely to decide whether you can stay in your home. If you’ve got a mortgage, home equity loan and business debts hanging over your head, the chances of this are slim. You probably need to consider the idea moving into a small, affordable apartment for a while, too. If you do this, get your debts paid off and your finances back in order—which includes living on a budget and saving—you might be able to buy a house again in a few years.

I know the idea of giving up your home and business is hurtful, but sometimes when you have a serious illness, extensive surgery is needed to fix the problem. And right now, you’ve got a very serious financial illness.

I want you to understand how I’m looking at this, Tammy. The house alone is not the problem. You borrowed money to open a business, and that was your first mistake. You also have no savings, which is another mistake, and now your business isn’t making a profit. See how all of it combined adds up into one big mess?

I love your spirit, and the fact that you want to be an entrepreneur. But you’ve got to get control of your money first. If you don’t, this thing will eat you alive.
— Dave

More Harm Than Good

Dear Dave,
Our son has been married for about three years, and he and his wife are having financial problems. He wants to live on a budget and save money, while she hates the idea of budgeting, and always wants to buy expensive things. They make enough to get by, but they’re not rich. How should we handle it when he asks us for advice?

Dear Stan,
If he can’t get her to realize these habits are hurting them and their financial future, and if it’s an issue they’re going to continually butt heads over, it would be smart

for them to sit down with a good marriage counselor or pastor. Something like this needs to come from a neutral and objective third-party.

Do you get what I’m saying here? The last thing he needs to do is go back to his wife spouting stuff like, “Well, my parents said…” Remember when you were first married, Stan? You didn’t want your in-laws always hovering around putting in their two-cents worth, either, right?

I know you folks are concerned. It’s only natural, because you love them and care about them. But if your daughter-in-law feels like her in-laws and her husband are ganging up on her, it could do way more harm than good!
— 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.