Dear Dave: My husband and I are active duty military stationed outside Washington, D.C. We’re completely debt-free and have finished your entire Baby Steps plan, but last month our paid-for rental house in Florida burned down. It was empty at the time, so no one was hurt, and we got a check from the insurance company for $165,000. We both plan to serve another nine years, and we know we could be moved around during that time. We love that area in Florida, though, and want to go back there one day. Do you think we should use the money to buy another place and rent it out until we’re ready to retire from the military? — Carrie

Dear Carrie: Wow! I am so proud of you guys. You’re at the point where you’re living—and giving—like no one else. You have achieved financial peace!

Now, I love real estate. But it’s always a good idea to have your rental property near you. I wouldn’t buy a place in Florida if I lived in Washington, D.C., and there was a chance I could be re-assigned pretty much anywhere in the world. I’d just scrape the lot where the rental house was, sell it, and invest that cash along with the insurance money.

Long distance landlording is really tough. It’s stressful, and it adds an even bigger element of risk to the rental property equation. It’s not something I generally recommend. If it’s something you guys want to take a chance on, though, you’re certainly in the financial position to do it. Just remember to pay cash for the whole thing, and if possible, try to get a location where you’d both like to end up when your military careers are over.

Congratulations, you two! And thank you for your service to our country. — Dave

Combine finances

in marriage?

Dear Dave,

Should my husband and I combine our finances?— Jenny

Dear Jenny,

If you want a quality marriage, the answer is yes. If you want a high probability of building wealth, the answer is yes.

I read an article the other day about how you shouldn’t rely on joint bank accounts in marriage, because half of all marriages end in divorce, and the woman needs to be independent of her husband financially, so she won’t get messed over if the marriage doesn’t last. That’s an absolute load of crap, and here’s why.

How and where you spend your money is always a direct result of your value systems. Jesus said it this way, “For where your treasure is, your heart will be, also.” When you plan your finances together, and you’re sharing your hopes and dreams, you’re sharing your goals for the future. You’re reaching for those together. You each have a voice, you each have a vote, and no one loses their personal identity in this. So yes, married couples should combine their finances. They should combine their checking accounts and their decision making on finances. You’ll make better, smarter decisions that way, and it instills communication in a marriage.

You know, when I first started teaching this stuff I didn’t realize that. I told couples to combine their finances, not from a relational standpoint, but because it’s impractical to run two sets of books in a household. But it’s very hard to hit the same goals and make good things happen together when you’re living separate financial lives. Since then, I’ve become convinced this approach builds stronger finances and stronger marriages.

Marriage is grand, divorce is fifty-grand, and when you live separately you’re going to end up living…separately. Combine your finances.

—Dave

Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms.

Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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