I feel truly blessed. Even with everything that is going on these days, I still have a steady job and a good income. I’m thinking about taking some money out of my savings account in order to completely pay off my credit card debt. How do you feel about this idea? — Erin
It’s not a bad plan if you’ve come to a point where you understand a few things. The credit card and the debt aren’t the real problems. They’re symptoms of buying things you probably don’t need with money you don’t have. You need to take a long look in the mirror, because the person who’s looking back at you is the real problem.
If you can accept this, and are committed to changing yourself and your financial habits, I’d say go for it. Just don’t wipe out your savings in the process. Leave plenty of cash in there, especially right now when so many things are uncertain. Also, make sure you cut up that credit card, close the account, and make a promise to yourself that you’ll never use those things again.
Once you do all this, and start living on a written, monthly budget, rebuild your savings as quickly as possible. Saving money is always a good thing. And everyone needs an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses for the unexpected stuff life throws at you!
Look at past numbers, then proceed realistically
Do you have a rule for calculating how much money to set aside for home repair and maintenance? — Bobby
I don’t really know of a formula to determine this sort of thing. I’d suggest looking at your checkbook over the previous year, and see what you spent on maintenance and repair issues. Home maintenance is kind of like car maintenance, in that it’s going to depend on the age and general condition of the house. If you’re driving an older model car, you expect to put more into it over time, right? It’s kind of the same principle with houses. The older the structure, the greater the likelihood you’ll have to pump some money into it.
Make sure you look at things from a realistic point of view. You probably won’t need a new roof anytime soon if you had one installed in the last couple of years. But give your house a good going over, inside and out, every six months or so. This will go a long way in assessing what’s needed—and what might pop up in the future!
* 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.