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Ask Dave

Making Grownup Choices

Laura and her husband are on Baby Step 2. Her husband thinks it's okay to take trips and save up to do other things while they're in debt. Laura disagrees and wants to cut out any extra spending.

QUESTION: Laura in Connecticut and her husband are on Baby Step 2. Her husband thinks it’s okay to take trips and save up to do other things while they’re in debt. Laura disagrees and wants to cut out any extra spending. Dave agrees with Laura.

ANSWER: In general philosophy of life, it’s okay to do those things. It’s not what I teach if you’re referring over what was learned or taught in Financial Peace University. The reason people are successful getting out of debt using our stuff is because we teach unbridled, scorched-earth, complete gazelle-intense focus. That means nothing. The kids are hiding because they’re afraid they’re going to be sold. We are going crazy. Lay your ears back. Bust it. Get the debt paid. Nutso. Your broke friends think you’re crazy. This is not a pleasant experience, but it does work.

Family’s getting ready to learn boundaries. They don’t get to set expectations on my money. “I love you. I would love to come. Right now, I am in a mess that I have made and have to clean up my mess before I can come. Kind of like when we were kids, we couldn’t go out to play until the room was clean.” That’s what we teach.

Everybody’s a grownup. Everybody gets to make their choices. The thing you need to understand is not what Dave Ramsey says and not what Financial Peace University says. The takeaway needs to be why does this work and why would we do it? You don’t get much energy out of “Dave said.” But if you understand why we’re saying this ... The reason we’re saying this and the reason it works is the deeper your commitment to this, the more passionate you are about getting out of debt, the further you will sacrifice; the further you sacrifice, the faster you get out; the faster you get out, the faster you get wealthy. That’s the reason for it. When you get the flu, you can kind of limp along and not take anything and just keep kind of trying to work through it. In four or five or six days and a couple of Tylenols, you might knock it out. Or you can run by the doctor and get a little pinch in the hip and get a Z-Pak, and you’ll be done. It hurts for a minute, but it’s over. I’d rather hurt for a minute and get it done.

This wandering out of debt while we try to do everything else and act like we didn’t screw up really doesn’t work very well. Most people can’t do it. It takes longer, and it doesn’t work. Because it takes longer, people quit.

You haven’t even paid your taxes, and we’re going to go on a family trip. I’m sorry—you just can’t do that. It’s not grown up. You’ve got to take care of business when you’re a grownup. I get how the emotions play, and I get how family script is. There’s an expectation. I understand all of that. Most families have that. The deal is you guys have lived your lives that way. Behaviors have to change, and the more dramatically they change, the better the results and the faster you get out. That’s the reason. It’s not referee what we learned in FPU. It’s not what Dave Ramsey says. There’s a process here—an idea, a concept—that when you plug in to it, you’re going to see results. If you don’t plug in to it, you’re going to keep getting the results you’ve been getting, which basically suck.