Dear Dave,

My husband and I are just starting Baby Step 1 of your plan. Prior to this, we told my two nephews we would buy them laptop computers for college. They don’t get a lot of encouragement or support from their immediate family, so we try to help them when we can. Should we go ahead and honor this commitment, postpone getting our starter emergency fund in place, and possibly take on a little more debt, or bow out of the agreement?

Lisa


Dear Lisa,

Well, it’s difficult to be generous when you’re broke. You don’t even have $1,000 to your names, and you’re going to buy two laptops? I don’t know how much debt you have, or what your household income is, but I do know neither of you have managed your money very well in the past.

If you make $50,000 a year, and you have $70,000 in debt, you should sincerely and apologetically bow out. Explain that you made a big mistake, and just be honest about why you can’t provide the laptops. If you make $200,000 a year, but you’ve just been incredibly silly and lazy with your money, you should buy the laptops and then get serious about growing up and getting control of your finances.

Don’t make promises, financial or otherwise, you can’t keep. I know this is a tough, embarrassing situation, but it’s what I would do if I were in your shoes.

Dave


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‘Tiny’ real estate?

Dear Dave,

Do you think the value of a “tiny home” would depreciate like a trailer?

Romeo


Dear Romeo,

That’s a tough one. I’m not certain they would depreciate like a trailer, but I don’t think they would go up in value much, either.

Anytime there’s a very limited demand for something, the price or value doesn’t generally increase. And there are very few people looking to buy tiny homes. The tiny home movement is kind of a niche thing. It’s a very narrow market, and something that doesn’t have a lot of demand isn’t going to appreciate.

I would avoid the tiny house movement if I were you, Romeo. Don’t invest in things that don’t have proven track records and don’t go up in value. I love real estate, but not tiny real estate!

Dave

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