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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.

Grandma doesn't want to spoil grandson anymore

Dear Dave,

My grandson is nine years old. I'm afraid I spoiled him in the past, because if he wanted something all he'd do is ask and I'd give it to him. I've decided I need to change this behavior, but I'm not sure how to start. I especially want to teach him some responsibility where money is concerned.

- Lisa

Dear Lisa,

If I were you I'd sit him down and let him know you'd made a mistake in handling some things. At his age, he's old enough to understand this. But it's not going to be painless - for either of you - because he's been cruising along getting pretty much whatever he wants up to this point.

Let him know lovingly, but firmly, that the mistake you made was spoiling him and that the world doesn't work that way. Explain to him that you love him very much, and that you're not doing it to be mean, but you're doing it because you want him to grow up to be a responsible adult and have a wonderful life.

Don't be too hard on yourself, Lisa. We're all guilty of this kind of thing when it comes to kids and grandkids. Believe me, I've got kids who don't hear the word "no" often enough, and when one of them does hear it they always get this strange look on their faces like they don't understand English. But "no" can be a good word. Lots of times it'll keep people out of trouble!

- Dave 

Help pay debt before marriage?

Dear Dave,

My sister's fiancé will be bringing a lot of debt into their marriage. He has several credit cards that are all maxed out, a $30,000 mortgage and lots of medical bills. She's quit college to work full-time and help him pay it all off. Is this a good idea?


Dear Heather,

This is a very bad idea. Those bills will become her joint responsibility soon enough - like AFTER they're married and not one second sooner. I mean, what if something bad happens and the break up?

Once you get married, there's no "yours" and "mine" anymore. It's all OURS, and that's when you should pay everything together. Marrying someone who is in debt is okay, too. But you need to make sure the habits which caused the debt have been broken, and that you're both in complete agreement from that point on about how the money will be handled.

Your sister's biggest responsibilities right now are making sure she really loves this guy, and that they're in agreement on financial issues before taking the trip to the altar. I've seen too many people come into our offices for counseling who were broke because they paid the bills for someone who left them before the big day.

NEVER pay your fiance's bills before you get married!

Kids and life insurance

Dear Dave,

What are your views about having life insurance on small children?


Dear Winfred,

I think it's a total waste of money. The only exception may be a small rider on your term insurance policy - just enough to take care of a child's funeral expenses - in the event that something awful happened. I did that for years, just a little $15,000 rider, before I decided to self-insure on that issue.

Life insurance policies should never be used for things that this situation represents. Number one, they should never be used as an investment. They're garbage as investment vehicles.

The second reason most people buy life insurance on kids is because they're scared the child may get really sick later on and become uninsurable. The likelihood of that happening is almost zero. That's why it's so inexpensive.

The only people with a real need for life insurance are those who have others depending on them for their livelihood. These folks should carry about 10 times their annual income on a good, 20-year level term life insurance policy.



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Celia Sankar

by Dave Ramsey