Should I pay for a friend’s debt counseling?

By Dave Ramsey

Should I pay for friend’s financial counseling?

Dear Dave,

I have some friends who need some financial counseling and I was going to pay for them to go. He wants to attend, but his wife does not. I don’t know if it would be worth the effort on my part to do this.


Oklahoma City, Ok.

Dear Brian,

The short answer is no. They don’t have a financial problem; they’ve got a marriage problem. There are several reasons that someone will not go to counseling. One is pride. They have the mindset that they don’t want to go sit with a financial person because they have it all figured out and know what’s wrong – it’s their spouse. Another reason they don’t want to go is they don’t want someone else to discover and confront them on what they already know they’re doing wrong. They know they’re out of control and acting like a four year old and they don’t want anyone to look at them and say that.

In other cases, they’re hiding things. There’s something going on no one knows about and they’re afraid it might be exposed. However, most of the time someone doesn’t want to go to marriage or financial counseling because they don’t have any hope that things are going to change. In other words, in this case she’s given up on him. He’s willing to go, but she’s probably so sick and tired of dealing with him being a control freak, a tightwad, a nerd or whatever it is – where she’s been beat up and beat down about finances. She doesn’t want to go to anything else where she might be submitted to that again.

I would suggest they sit down with a good marriage counselor or a pastor who will do some marriage counseling for them and begin this process of touching and healing this relationship issue that’s going on. There’s a breakdown of trust, respect or something between the two of them where she doesn’t want to work with him on anything – and money happens to be one of those things. And he can’t solve it by himself. So I think you’re wasting your money.

In fact, if you go to one of our certified counselors, they will not meet with someone who is married, without the spouse attending as well. It’s one of our rules. It’s a waste of time and money to do so and it makes everybody mad.


Okay to purchase things while still in debt?

Dear Dave,

Do you always recommend that all debt, except the home, be paid off before other purchases are made with cash? My wife wants to get a leather sofa. It would take us about three months to save up for it, but we do still have a second mortgage. What do you think?


Manassas, Va.

Dear Scott,

I generally recommend that you get out of debt. The exception would be for true necessities. I definitely recommend you be out of debt, except for your home, before you purchase something like a leather couch.

This is an example of how we think in America today – “I need a leather couch!” I’m just like you. I like leather couches. In fact, I have one. They smell good, they feel good, and they’re comfortable. But you have to reach a point somewhere in this process where you ask what is important, what is real, what matters. If you rated this on a scale, being out of debt so your family can live, save, win and pay cash for things so all of the money isn’t going back out in payments for stuff every month would be way up on the list above a leather couch.

If you have a second mortgage larger than one half your annual income you may consider refinancing your second into a new first mortgage. The key here is to be absolutely positively over debt and I’m not sure you’re through with debt because you’re still asking questions about leather couches way early in the process. Leather couches should be a thing that happens with cash as a natural result of having built some wealth. That’s how the process ought to flow. Not as something where we have to figure out how we can get one because I want one and I’m going to stick my lip out and pout before I have built some wealth.


Disclaimer: Questioner’s identities have not been verified by Dave $ays column or this website.


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