Offering his expert advice on money management, radio host Dave Ramsey explains how couples can avoid conflict by negotiating a budget, and how they can teach their children wise financial principles. (Part 2 of 2)
John Fuller: On our last "Focus on the Family," financial expert Dave Ramsey shared this bit of wisdom.
Dave Ramsey: The flow of money in a family represents the value system under which that family operates. Jesus said it this way. He said, "Where your treasure is, your heart will be also." So what you do with money screams loudly who you are.
End of Recap
John: Well, some passion and conviction there and on today's "Focus on the Family," you'll hear some practical biblical advice from Dave Ramsey. This is gonna apply to your situation, whether you're single or married, with children or without. I'm John Fuller and your host is Focus president, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, last time, Dave spoke about two different money personalities--the free spirit and the nerd. I think you know which one you want to be in (Laughter), but you often have one of each in a marriage. And he explained how you can avoid conflict with some simple budgeting ideas. And we know here at Focus, we get a lot of people writing in about the conflict in marriage around finances.
In today's message, he's going to turn a corner and talk to single folks about some of the financial land mines that they particularly struggle with, like my mom, who as a single mother of five kids, was workin' two or three jobs just to get by, but also had a hard time saying no to guess who? Yeah, her little Jimmy. I was a bit spoiled.
John: Ah, well, those are hard circumstances, especially around the holidays and Dave will have some encouragement. He's also gonna share some intriguing ideas about teaching your children how to handle money a little bit later on.
Now if you're not familiar, Dave Ramsey is a best-selling author. He's a radio host, very popular and he's been a very good friend to this ministry. He's been here a number of times and it's a privilege to present the second half of this segment. It comes from his nine-week video series, Financial Peace University. And so, from that series, here's Dave Ramsey on today's "Focus on the Family." And we'll start with a brief recap, in case you missed our last program.
Dave: When it comes to singles and money, time, poverty and fatigue can lead to poor money management. Beware when you're single of impulse buying due to stress or the "I owe it to myself" syndrome, sometimes known as a pity party. I deserve a break today. I'm pitiful and I'm going to spend money I don't have. And I just feel bad and I'm just gonna go spend some money. I'll feel better if I spend some money and all these kinds of things. Be very, very, very, very, very careful of that.
Fifty-five percent of the single moms in the U.S. are qualified as "poor" in America today—55 percent of them, according to the Department of Commerce. And you know, we work with a lot of single moms across the country. And I'll never forget sitting in a small group session after we taught in a Financial Peace University with a single mom.
And she said, "Dave, I was doing this stuff so good. I had my budget down. It was Thursday night. Everything was balanced. I'm working two jobs to get this done. I'm so tired, but we were getting there. I was starting to feel like I had discipline and had control. For the first time in my life, I really had a sense of hope.
And she said, "I got up on Friday morning. We got the kids all dressed to take them to the daycare and load 'em in the car. We're going down the road. Cloudburst, big time thunderstorm. About that time I hear, Blum, blum, blum, blum. My tire's flat." So, she gets out on the side of the road. The kids are in the car. People are drivin' by, splash, splash, splash, while she changes the tire.
So, she's late getting them to the daycare. Then she's late and wet getting into work. She comes into work. Her boss chews her out, 'cause she's late for work. And so, she has to work over, because she's late, to make up the time and be able to keep the job. And of course, if you're late to the daycare, they charge 62 dollars a minute if you come in late for the daycare.
So, she comes in late to the daycare. They … chi-ching, chi-ching, chi-ching, chi-ching. Picks up the kids. She has had the worst day of her life, right? She gets in the car. She's drivin' home. She's just completely worn out. She said, "Dave, I had nothing left in my emotional gas tank." And she said, "The kids are in the back goin', 'McDonalds, McDonalds, McDonalds." (Laughter)
And she said, "Before I knew it, I went through and I pulled $20 out of the Anytime Teller, that wasn't in there because my budget was balanced. I had already spent the money and paid the bills. And we went over to McDonalds and got a couple of Happy Meals and we went home, 'cause I just didn't have the energy to cook." "I bounced five checks. The Happy Meals cost me $157 dollars."
Dave: See, you don't deserve that kind of a break today. You gotta kind of take a deep breath when the kids are doin' that and go, "Shut up, peanut-butter breath. We are goin' home." And go slap some peanut butter on the bread and do it another day.
And I gotta tell ya, I know it's tough. I know those budgets are tough. We've looked at them for years. It's hard, but I can tell you, you don't deserve that kind of break today. You have to be very careful. It's moments like that, that make or break you, when you have to be strong.
And folks that are single and have never been married or don't have kids, you gotta be careful. A lot of singles, I talk about, particularly young singles, talk about what they call "loneliness spending." They would rather eat at a restaurant, even if I'm not eating with anybody--at least there's people around--than sit in an apartment by myself again. I just can't do it. I just want to be around humans. And they go out or the gang is going out. Even if they don't want to go out with the gang, they go out with the gang, just to be hangin' out with some people, just to have the touch and the interaction. And every time they do that, they spend money. Be careful with that. A written plan gives a single person empowerment, self-accountability and control.
If you're in here and you're single or you're helping somebody that's single, circle that one right there. Put stars all the way around it. That is worth you attending tonight if you're single. It's that simple. The written plan gives a single person empowerment, self-accountability and control.
How do you prevent mistakes and how do you put in place the right kind of decisions when you're single? Well, you develop an accountability relationship, someone to discuss your purchases with, someone to discuss your budget with.
Now who do you use for an accountability partner? You don't use your shopping buddy. (Laughter) "Oh, get three." (Laughter) That's not what we're talkin' about. An accountability partner is someone who's willing to hurt your feelings for your own good. "No, Stupid, you don't need a new car. It's a flat tire." Buy a hub cap. Shut up."
Now your accountability partner could be your dad, your mom. It could be somebody that you work with. It could be an uncle. It could be your grandmother. It could be your pastor. It can be a friend, but whoever it is needs to be somebody that has old-fashioned values when it comes to money. And they're going to look at you in love and say you're being stupid. Don't do that.
Hey, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto, okay? You gotta have somebody to knock this stuff off of, to be able to get in our face when it's time and do that.
Now those of us that are married, we know when we get home, we've got immediately accountability. You bought what?! (Laughter) That just goes with the territory.
But I'm not saying when you're single that somehow you're incomplete. That's not my point. My point is though, that two heads are better than one. And if you'll reach outside, find that special someone in your life that will get in your face on financial issues or any other issue—spiritual issues—it will cause you to grow and cause you to be able to win. Accountability is an absolute necessity.
When it comes to kids and money, teaching your kids how to handle money is not the school's responsibility. They should be doing it. By and large, they're not doing it. And you gotta remember, ultimately it is your responsibility. It's your responsibility to make sure your kids are taught. This stuff is not taught in schools.
We have a high school curriculum called Financial Peace for the Next Generation. It's taught in a couple of thousand schools and if it's not in your high school, then it's your job to teach your kids about money and don't wait until they get to high school anyway. It's part of being a parent to teach them these things. It's part of being a parent to teach them to drive, to teach them to wear clothes that fit their body. You know (Laughter), this is part of being a parent, isn't it? We have these responsibilities and we can't let someone else out there take that job from us. We will be disappointed in the results.
Proverbs 22:6 says--you probably heard this; have you heard it?--"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Have you heard that? Say yes.
Dave: Here's an interesting thing. I have never heard anybody quote that Scripture with the one immediately following it. It's interesting. Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he'll not depart from it." Twenty-two seven, "The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is slaveto the lender."
Maybe we ought to teach our kids about money. Maybe we ought to teach our kids about debt, that when you sign up for a credit card, it doesn't make you an adult; it makes you a slave. There's an idea. Maybe we ought to teach our kids about work, things like in the Bible it says, "The diligentprosper, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished." Get rich quick doesn't work. Workin' your tail end off does work. That's what that says. And teach those lessons to our kids.
Around our house, we paid commissions, not allowances. We never had allowances at the Ramsey household. I don't believe in allowance. Allowance to me, sounds like welfare. It sounds like, I'm gonna make allowance for you, because you're somehow deficit. You're not able to do anything of value, so I'm gonna make allowance for you.
Commission says, that if you work, you get paid. If you don't work, you don't get paid. That's what commission says and that works every time. You know, I remember one time we were driving along. Our kids were a lot smaller then and one of mine was about 13-years-old and was goin' on, "Dad, why are you so tough on us? Our friends don't have to work the way you work us. You make us work. You make us do all these things. You make us do this. You make us save money. I mean, we have all these rules that the other kids don't have, Dad. Why are you so tough on us about this money stuff? Is it just 'cause you're afraid you're gonna be embarrassed?" (Laughter)
And I went, "Well, yeah, that's part of it. (Laughter) But I said, "More than anything, the reason I'm so tough on you is this. We've done a great job with money, so we've got a lot of it. And so, when we die, you're gonna be very wealthy. And if you don't have the personal character, the muscle and the bones of character to carry the weight of that wealth, it will ruin your life. It will take away your desire to win. It will take away why God put you on the planet and you'll become one of those "trust fund babies" (Laughter), stinky things. I don't want any of those. I want children that are arrows that we turn loose, that are straight and they're clean and they fly true and they hit the mark. That's what we're trying to grow. And that happens with lots and lots of forming and reforming and reforming. That's the character to carry that wealth."
You see, words are powerful. Be careful what words you're using with your kids. What are you speaking into their lives? What are you speaking at them? You have to be very careful about that, see. If you work, you get paid. If you don't work, you don't get paid. Around our house, we use the stuff that we now have in a thing called Financial Peace Junior. We used to put on the refrigerator door, we would put a commission worksheet that looked a lot like this—little magnets on the back and we'd stick it to the door. And we write on here the chores that you had to do. And we put a dollar amount beside each of the chores.
Now it wasn't a big complicated thing. When they were pretty small, you know, they're 6-, 7-, 8-years-old, it was five chores and it was a dollar apiece for each chore. So you do all the chores, you get five bucks. You don't do all the chores, you get 4 bucks, 3 bucks, whatever.
And so, we'd check off if you did 'em and you got paid if you did 'em. And if you didn't do the chore, you didn't get the money. It's that simple. Did you know that everyone in here is on straight commission? Try not going to work for six weeks and see if you get paid. (Laughter) You're on straight commission. Everyone here is "Work, get paid; don't work, don't get paid." It's good to teach little guys that. I mean, it's really good.You don't have to be so hard on 'em. You want to do it age appropriate. We don't want to create Hitler's boot camp for money (Laughter). That's not the point, okay? But we do want these kids to learn this stuff at 4-, 5-, 6-, 8-, 10-years old, because I meet 58-year-olds who still haven't made an emotional connection between money and work. It's how money is created. It's created with work. And so, we use the basic commission thing.
"Well, Dave, we think that around our house you oughta just do chores just 'cause you're part of the family." I said five, the rest of ours you do just 'cause I'm larger than you and I can hurt you (Laughter), 'cause you're part of the family.
When I'd get up from the dinner table and take my plate to the sink and scrape it off and put it in the dishwasher, I didn't do that 'cause I get paid. I did that because I love my wife and it's one way I can serve her that evening after she's been in a hot kitchen all day, okay? That's that deal. And the same thing for my kids. They love their mom. They love their dad. They need to do stuff as bein' part of the family. That's part of the deal.
But if you only do that, you don't ever teach them that work creates money. 'Cause I gotta tell you; when they earn money and they have money that's in their hand that they earned, they treat it different[ly]. And they make different decisions at that point. And you get to teach 'em other teachable lessons. So, do some things that are just 'cause you're part of the family, but do some things where we make that connection and create teachable moments in the process, as well.
John: Some great financial insights from Dave Ramsey on today's "Focus on the Family." And you'll hear in a moment what happened when one of his kids bounced a check. And we do have some excellent Dave Ramsey resources on hand. Ask about those when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY or find those at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let's return now to Dave Ramsey on "Focus on the Family."
End of Program Note
Dave: Teach by example, as well. You know, here's an idea. You gotta understand that they're gonna do what you do. If you're stressed out and the way you medicate stress is you pray, then they're gonna pray when they're stressed out. If the way you medicate stress is, you go buy a new dress, they're gonna go buy a new dress when they're stressed out. They're watching you. They smell this stuff.You know, the old thing that, I would rather see a sermon any day, than hear one. And kids, that's how they live their whole lives.
When our children were little, our oldest, but when she was a little bitty kid in preschool, the little teacher--this was a brave little teacher--took each of these little kids and put their little feet in paint and put the little footprint on a little cardboard thing. And it looks like this. This is my oldest, Denise. And then, they wrote across the top, "I'm following in your footsteps."
Now if you put that on your office desk for a couple of years, it'll change how you act and react about just about everything, won't it, because they're watching. They're going to do what you do. So, you can teach and you can have all these speeches and all these other things. You can take 'em to all the Dave Ramsey stuff and all this stuff, but ultimately, you're runnin' around borrowing money every time you turn around, your kids are gonna run around and borrow money every time they turn around. That's what's gonna happen. You are their family of origin and you're gonna bless them or curse them with that process.
Now as you're teaching them, be age appropriate in the process. You know, show them how debt works. Show them how to be debt free. But a 4-year-old doesn't grasp that. But as you're talkin' to teenagers, they get a little bit older, you know, talk to them about how insurance works. Talk to 'em about what a Roth IRA is or what a 401(k) is. Talk to 'em about taxes and voting and these kinds of things, you know, 'cause you want to raise 'em to vote like you do, right? I mean, that's how that works. (Laughter)
So, if the children are very young when you start out, just use a clear plastic container like this. And as you pay them, wad the money up, so it takes up more room and stuff it down in there. See, that's not a lot of money in there. That's a bunch of ones, just wadded up and stuffed in there. But if you have that on a neat little pile, you nerds, it really wouldn't look like a lot of money. This is a free spirit savings account right here, okay? (Laughter)
But here's what happens, see. When you're 4-years-old and you clean up the room, did you really clean up the room?
Dave: No, not really. Around our house, when you're 4-years-old and you cleaned up the room, you picked up three or four toys, Mom and Dad did the rest. And you got all the "attaboys" and "attagirls." "You are a superstar room cleaner! You are awesome! Give me a high five on a clean room! Way to go!" (Laughter) Hopefully, they'll kind of get that in their spirit and then, when they're a teenager, it won't look like a nuclear dump, you know. (Laughter)
All right, so, you know, you do that; you train 'em, right? And then let me tell you, pay 'em right then. "That was hard work cleanin' up that room and I'm really proud of you. That was good--a dollar. Doesn't have to be a lot of money. And you crumple it up and you put it in here. And then every so often, you don't have to have a big system—that's the whole system when they're tiny, okay?—every so often, you get 'em all out, all these dollars out and you smooth 'em out. And you go down to Toys Are Them.
I remember one time we went down to Toys Are Them and we were there to buy Celebration Barbie. (Laughter) And we didn't have the money, so we got "sort a', kind 'a, had a party Barbie." (Laughter) I gotta tell you, that was a character-growing experience right there, to not buy what we went after, because we didn't have the money. 'Cause I'm lookin' at those little eyes lookin' up at me, "Celebration Barbie, man!" It was a character-growing experience for me. I remember it. The kid doesn't even remember it, (Choking up) I mean, it's just another few dollars. I mean, aren't they sweet? Isn't this cute? It's how this works.
Now do I do that every time? No, sometimes I just step up and totally buy Celebration Barbie. But other times, we're like, "Okay, this is how this deal works. Money is finite. There's only so much of it. You need to get that in your spirit as you go along. You don't get everything you want." "Well, I deserve it." You don't deserve it unless you have the money. That's when you deserve it. That's how you want to transfer this. Just having big cute eyes doesn't give you the right to deserve everything.
We got people all over our culture tryin' that and it just doesn't work, right? Whew! So, we use three envelopes at our house. We use the spending envelope, the saving envelope and the giving envelope when we paid the little guys. And so, giving, spending, saving, you know, what we would do is take that $5—those five $1 bills—and we would break them up into these three envelopes.
And so, we'd say, "Okay, we're gonna put into giving. We're gonna put a dollar in the giving envelope. We're gonna put $2 in the spending envelope and $2 in the saving envelope. And then, when we get ready to go do some giving at church, what do we do? You go get your giving envelope on Sunday and you take your money that you earned and you give your money."
That's different than, "Oh, we're getting out of the car, walking through the church parking lot. I'm gonna give you a little money for the children's church plate." That child didn't do anything. They were just a courier for your money. They don't receive any kind of lesson from that. They don't receive any kind of blessing from that.
But when they cleaned up their toys and they fed the dog and they did the dishwasher and then some of that money is given, their little character starts to change. And you know, they're more natural givers than you and I are. It's not hard to teach them to give, most of them, okay? And you teach 'em to save money and to set some goals. And you teach 'em to spend money and you do Celebration Barbie or sort of, kind a had a party Barbie or whatever you need to (Laughter) … you know. You buy whoever you can afford. That's what you do. And you save up that money and do that. So, work the threes like that until they get a little bit older.
Now when they get a little bit older, they're 13- to 15-years-old, what we did at that age, 15-, 16-years-old for some of 'em, if they've been trained on this other stuff all the way up and they've got these ideas of work, giving, saving, spending and how money works in those four categories, then you can put them on a checking account. We did that with our kids.
We said, "Okay, here's what we normally would spend on you in our neighborhood on clothing, on entertainment, on car gas for your car that we would give you," not the car, but the car gas. "Here's the money that we would normally spend on you anyway. We're not gonna give it out to you like, 20, 20, 20, 20, $20, $20, $20, $20, $20.
I was on vacation the other day and I saw this dad by the pool that had a T-shirt that said, "My kids think I'm an ATM." And I looked at that and I thought, "No, your kids think you're spineless." They think there's no end to you. They think they can just come up to you at any time and do anything with you. That's not funny to me. It's kind of sick.
And so, instead, what we're gonna do is, we're gonna give you this amount of money in your checking account at the first of the month. When we started doing that, our girls particularly, started shopping at different stores. (Laughter) 'Cause you buy one dress with that amount of money or you can buy 15 things with that amount of money. It just depends on how you think about it.
And when that's it and they really believe that Dad said, "That's it," then that's it. And it's been amazing. And you get the opportunity they have a new chore—keeping the checkbook balanced, not bouncing any checks.
I've got one that's never bounced a check, all the way up through college, they never bounced a check. I've got another one that bounced a check one time. Can you imagine being Dave Ramsey's kid and bouncing a check? (Laughter) Oh, man! I made that one go down and talk to the banker. I said, "You have to go down to the banker and personally apologize. (Laughter) You will never bounce another check again. You just do that one time when you're 16-years-old, right?
You apologize for lying to them, for writing a check out of their bank that you didn't have the money in there to cover. You lied. It's an integrity issue. "Dad, you're kidding." "No, [do] I look like I'm kidding? You get your butt down there." [It] changed their life. What a wonderful lesson. What if somebody'd done that to me when I was 16? It'd been a whole different Dave Ramsey story, I can promise you. It's a whole different mindset on how this stuff works.
Other thing we've done [sic] is, we decided long before they were teenagers, we started telling them this: we're not buying your car. I'm not gonna buy your car. I'm saving up. I'm gonna pay for your college education, but I'm not buyin' your car. If you want a car, you better save up the money.
And we've been blessed, so I will match you. Our matching plan is 401(Dave). (Laughter) I'll match you as you go along, but I am not buying your car. So, whatever you save up, that's what you're gonna have. One of 'em was saving long and somebody asked them the other day, "You know, how are you doin' towards your saving?" And they said, "I think I'm headed towards a really nice bicycle." (Laughter) "So, I'm gonna have to kind of get with it."
But I'll tell you what, the first one saved up some money, got a match and got a nice car. The second one went, "Whoa! That happened for real. Dad wasn't kidding." Got on the ball, got more money. Got a bigger, nicer car. The third one's goin', "Dad, I'm thinkin' new Hummer." (Laughter) And really, probably could have pulled that off, but we kind of went in and intervened. So here's my suggestion to you. If you're gonna do the 401(Match) thing, I would recommend on the front end saying, "Up to a certain amount." Put a limit on it, okay? (Laughter) I wasn't smart enough to see this coming, 'cause as they move down the siblings, they get smarter about this, okay, once they see it's a real deal and it's really, really, really going to happen.
So, the deal is this; you need to teach your kids about money and they want to know. A Charles Schwab survey just the other day said 89 percent of teens want to know more about money. That's why the high schools need to be teaching it. Teens [are] really hungry for this stuff. They want to know how it works.
And you had a Jump Start Coalition study of high school seniors; [they] did a survey and did some testing of high school seniors all across the nation in all kinds of different socio-economic settings. It wasn't just poor neighborhoods or rich neighborhoods.
And here's what happened. Fifty-two point four percent of the people that took the exam—a basic personal finance exam as a senior in high school—achieved a score of F. And yet, they're getting ready to graduate from high school and we're gonna turn 'em loose and send 'em out there. Who's gonna teach 'em about buying a new car? [A] car dealer? (Laughter) Now there's a plan. (Laughter)
See, we parents have got to get involved and the schools needs to get involved. There's a whole process there. You have the ability to change your family tree. Don't just give them money. If you do the stuff we teach in here, you're gonna become wealthy. And if all you give them is money and no character, you will be a curse in their life. You'll change your family tree in a negative way.
Teach them to work. If you teach them a work ethic, if you teach them integrity, a godly man leaves an inheritance to his children's children. And it's not just an inheritance of money; it's a … it's an inheritance of character. And if they learn all of these things, if you just give 'em a work ethic and honesty, they'll be able to go win, if that's all you do.
If you give 'em a work ethic, honesty and money, well, you've started a new thing. You're the new Rockefellers. You're the new Vanderbilts. You've begun to bust the whole thing up. And so, kids really care about this stuff. Be proactive. Warren Buffett said, "Give enough money to your kids that they can do anything, but not enough that they can do nothing."
So, marriage and money, it's absolutely essential for nerds and free spirits to unite. It's absolutely essential for you singles to take control of your life. Put someone that's accountable to you or that you're accountable to in your life. And those of you that are raising kiddos, don't be afraid to parent. Be a brave parent. And you're gonna make some mistakes. Don't let those mistakes disqualify your authority position. Step into their lives. Be loving and firm and loving and loving and loving and little more firm. And be there for 'em and teach them this stuff. This stuff works. Thanks for bein' here.
John: You've been listening to Dave Ramsey here on "Focus on the Family" and I do hope you've enjoyed attending by radio one session of his nine-week Financial Peace University.
Jim: Boy, John, Dave Ramsey has such a great perspective on how to teach our kids about money and how to encourage them to work, which is so important for them to learn at a young age, not just receive hand-outs from mom and dad, which is so typical. Maybe even when they're older, to not receive hand-outs from you-know-who, mom and dad.
In fact, Dave and his daughter, Rachel have written a book called Smart Money, Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money. And that's a great resource that we recommend for parents who want to follow up on what they've heard today.
And if you if you request that from us here at Focus on the Family, we'll send that out to you for a generous donation of any amount. We believe in the resource and we want to put it in your hands. And let me say thank you as you partner with us and help us help other families thrive. Give us a call right now.
John: The number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 and when you call, we can offer a choice of Dave Ramsey books, either Smart Money, Smart Kids as Jim just mentioned or The Total Money Makeover and that's when you make a donation of any amount. You can find out more about donating to Focus, as well at our website, www.focusonthefamily.com/radio .
And when you get in touch, ask about Mvelopes, which is an award-willing on-line cash-flow system, developed by Finicity, that can really help you with your budget and best of all it's free for "Focus on the Family" listeners. Again, that's called Mvelopes and we've got details online.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and made possible by generous listeners like you. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for listening in. I'm John Fuller, hoping you have a great weekend and inviting you back next time on Monday, when we'll explore the drama of your child's middle school years and provide more trusted advice to help your family thrive.
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Dave RamseyView Bio
Best-selling author and money management expert Dave Ramsey is host of the nationally-syndicated radio program "The Dave Ramsey Show" which is heard by more than 3.5 million listeners each week. He holds a B.S. in Finance and Real Estate from the University of Tennessee. Dave and his wife, Sharon, have three children.