Dave Says: Time to Get Serious

Dave RamseyBy Dave Ramsey2 Minutes

Dear Dave,

My husband and I have always gotten by. We both make about $40,000 a year, we each turned 50 last month, and we only have a little bit of debt. Recently, my mother-in-law moved in with us due to health issues. Since that time, we have been struggling financially due to the added expense of having her with us. We love her and want her to be here, but we are unsure how we will continue to make things work. Can you help?

— Renaye

Dear Renaye,

It’s completely understandable that your mother-in-law moving in tightened things up for you guys — to a point. What it has also done is trained a spotlight on the fact you and your husband need to start behaving better with your money. That means living on a written, monthly budget, and telling your money where to go instead of “getting by” and wondering where it all went.

That sound you hear is a phone ringing, and it’s your wake-up call. If I were you, I’d pick up. That call’s saying you two have been disorganized and a little sloppy with your finances in the past, but you’ve made just enough money to get away with it. Now, you’re going to have to get serious and get organized, because you’ve chosen to take care of her. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an honorable decision you’ve made to bring her into your home. But it also means some changes have to be made in terms of the day-to-day finances around your place. You’re going to have to sit down with your husband and separate the wants from the needs.

The good news, Renaye, is that with a budget you can analyze, in detail, the need to cut expenses, generate extra income — or both. But for this thing to work, you’ve got to create a little margin. Because if you continue to just wander along without a plan, you’re going to have a real mess on your hands.

God bless you folks.

— Dave