Dad with low salary and a newborn needs a 5-year plan

By Dave Ramsey

Dear Dave,

We have $15,000 in credit card debt. My husband works very hard, but only makes about $25,000 a year. We’re also living in a very old trailer right now, and I stay at home with our newborn. My dad told us he is willing to pay off our debt if we agree to get financial counseling together and show that we are serious about doing better with our finances. What should we do?


Dear Harper,

I wouldn’t accept the money from your dad if it’s going to be a loan. If you really want to ruin family events, have debt owed to your parents. It twists you up inside. And it’ll be especially hard on your husband. No matter what anyone else says, the borrower is always slave to the lender.

If it’s going to be a gift, meaning there’s no expectation of repayment, that’s a different story. Still, I think your dad has a great idea in making the debt payoff contingent on you two going to some kind of financial counseling, and making a proactive effort to change things, get out of debt and save money – for your child’s future and for yours. I’d probably do the same thing.

It doesn’t sound like you’re being crazy with your money, but it’s tough to provide for a family on that kind of income. You and your husband need to sit down together, develop a monthly budget and a realistic five-year plan to improve his earning potential. Make it a date night. Hold hands, do something inexpensive you both enjoy, and let him know he can be anything he wants to be. Then, help him decide exactly what and where he wants to be in five years. What does he want to be making, and what feasible steps can he take educationally or in terms of job training to get there?

If you want to go to work at some point when your baby is a little older, that’s fine. I completely understand the desire to be at home with a brand new baby. But hard work alone just isn’t enough these days. You’ve got to boost your brain power and value in the marketplace, too. God bless you guys!


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