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Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert, US national radio personality and author of the New York Times bestseller The Total Money Makeover. For more financial advice and a special offer to our readers, please visit or call 1-888-22-PEACE.

Postpone wedding until debt-free?

Dear Dave,

I’m planning on getting married in about a year to a man I love very much. We’ve both been through your class at our church and were talking about waiting until we’re both completely debt-free. I was wondering about your opinion. Would you wait?

- Joni

Dear Joni,

No, I wouldn’t. When two people really love each other they should get married when they feel in their hearts that the time is right. At this point you shouldn’t be thinking about money as anything except an indicator of where you’re going. It doesn’t matter who got into debt or how, Joni. Everyone makes mistakes. But if you’re both passionate about getting out of debt, living on less than you make and in agreement about how the dollars are going to be handled, then as far as money is concerned you’re ready to be married. Many relationship experts will tell you if a couple can agree on four things – kids, money, religion and in-laws – they have a great statistical chance of a happy marriage. I believe this, too. Make sure you meet with your pastor for some good pre-marital counseling, Joni. And best wishes for a long and happy life together!

- Dave 

Interest-only loans a good idea?

Dear Dave,

My father-in-law is telling us
we should apply for an interest-only loan when we buy a house and then pay extra on the principal. What do you think about this idea?


Dear Nick,

Interest-only mortgages are horrible. Stay away from them! Lots of folks get into these traps by promising themselves they’ll pay extra on the principal. But according to FDIC statistics, 97 percent don’t pre-pay on their loans. Some lenders will also try to use a flashy or “sophisticated” analysis to convince you this is a great way to get into a great house. But the funny thing about most of these sales pitches is that there’s no mention of the fact that you’ve exponentially increased risk. And risk can be mathematically entered into the equation, making your supposed gains disappear. The best thing you can do – short of saving up and paying cash for a home – is make a huge down payment on a conventional 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage. Then, pay it off as quickly as possible. When you have an interest-only loan, you end up paying only on the interest. And that’s a great way to find yourself in debt for the rest of your life!


Use pension to pay off debt?

Dear Dave,

I’m 61 years old and just lost my job with the only company for which I’ve ever worked. I’ve got $120,000 in my retirement fund, but I owe $57,000 on my home and $8,000 on a car. Should I pay off my debts using my retirement savings?


Dear Peggy,

Your idea makes me a little nervous if this is your only nest egg, because you won’t have much money left to live on. You’ll have taxes taken out, and depending on your tax bracket that will probably leave you with about $50,000 if you pay everything off. Now, if you’ve got another source of income in the home providing $50,000 to $60,000 a year you’d probably be okay. And if that’s the case I’d say go for it. Write the checks and get the house and car off your back today! Just be careful that you don’t put yourself in a tight situation. Remember this, Peggy. Money is fun – if you’ve got some.

- Dave

Long term disability insurance

Dear Dave,

My husband is 31 years old and has been offered long-term disability insurance through his employer. It only costs $25 a month, but we’re trying hard to live on a budget and get out of debt. Is this coverage worth it?


Dear Rebecca, Yes! Long-term disability insurance is a fantastic buy. It’s inexpensive, and in return it will pay you about 60 to 70 percent of his salary if something bad happens and he becomes disabled. That’s not a bad deal for just $300 a year. Statistics show that a man in his early thirties is 12 times more likely to become disabled than to die before the age of 65. Everyone needs to have long-term – not short-term – disability insurance. Hopefully, you’ll never find yourselves in a situation where you have to use this type of policy. But in the event that something awful does happen it can help save you from financial ruin!

- Dave


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