Dave Ramsey: Fighting fear
After listening to your show, I want to try to get control of my finances, but I’m afraid to open up the bills. I make about $60,000 a year, but it’s a real struggle just to keep my head above water financially. My checking account is always overdrawn, and I don’t know where to start in catching up. Can you help?
Trust me, I know it can be scary. But the easiest way to attack this thing is by taking one slow, sure step at a time. Try not to let worry consume you in the process, either. First, sit down, take a deep breath, and open all the unopened bills. Throw away any duplicates, and keep only the most recent statements and notices. The unknown is always scarier than the known, so facing the bills and cutting that stack in half right off the bat will help reduce a lot of your initial anxiety.
Next, let’s start a debt snowball. List all the debts you owe, from smallest to largest, making one column for the payoff balance, one column for the amount you need to get current on that debt, and one column for the single payment amount when you get current. Total each column — the payoff balance, the amount to get current, and the single payment. I promise it won’t be as bad as you think. Finally, make a monthly budget. Prioritize your needs, starting with food, utilities, house payments and transportation. When it comes to your debts, pay as much as you can on the smallest one while making minimum payments on all the others.
You can do this, Gail. If you’ll follow my plan, I think you’ll see improvement in several areas of your life and you’ll feel good about the progress you’re making, too.
Use an insurance broker
My mom is 73-years-old, and she’s dealing with depression and a few other mental issues. Is it too late for her to get long-term care insurance?
It wouldn’t be a big problem if she were healthy. But given her age, and the other struggles you mentioned, I’d check with a good insurance broker to see what’s out there for her.
In the insurance world they call this “making a market.” Will they be able to find a company that will write her in that situation? I can’t give you an accurate answer off the top of my head, because this is a difficult thing. It would probably depend on things like the extent of her depression, how long it’s been manifested, and what it has done in her life.
That’s one of the reasons I’m advising you to see an insurance broker. A broker doesn’t represent just one company; they represent several companies. They can shop around in a given situation, and find someone to write something you might not get written otherwise. They can also shop around for the best possible price, and you get the efficiencies of the marketplace working for you.
God bless you both, Julie.
— 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 12 million listeners each week on 575 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.