Dear Dave: My wife and I really got serious about your plan. We even sold our house to become completely debt-free. Now, we’re trying to help my mom and dad. They liked your plan at first, and even taught Financial Peace University (FPU) at their church. Then, everything changed. They went out and leased a new car, bought another one on payments, and picked up a bunch of credit cards. They’re trying to tell us that you really do this stuff too. How can we help them?
Dear Michael: What you’re describing is so inconsistent it’s hard to grasp. I mean, how do you go teach FPU and then come back and claim Dave uses credit cards and does all those other dumb things? How do you do that then go lease a car and buy a new car and argue against what you’ve been teaching in a class? I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t mess with any of that stuff!
They’re not really asking for your opinion. So, I don’t think they can be helped until there’s some kind of an opening. It’s like the old adage says: “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.” I’d just tell them you’re on different pages about this stuff. Let them know you love them, but that you’re in complete disagreement on this topic and you’re not going to argue about it with them.
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There are always things you disagree about in families from time to time. But the truth is they went on a financial bender. When they wake up with a hangover, you might be able to help them, but right now they’re drunk. They’re financially drunk. They’re buying everything in sight, and they’re rationalizing it and justifying it.
Just pray for them, love them, and be in their lives. Continue to do what’s smart, and try to avoid arguments. See where it goes from there. Maybe, when they sober up financially, they’ll ask for some help.
Dear Dave: I own a small business specializing in cell phone repair. Sometimes I buy phones and parts on eBay. I can make sure the phones are not stolen by running a check on the serial numbers. However, I cannot be certain about the individual parts. Is there a way I can ensure I’m not dealing with stolen parts?
Dear Gordan: I would try to deal only with reputable sellers. eBay, I believe, has a ratings system and you have power sellers and so forth. Try to find someone who has a steady stream of cell phone parts, someone who’s a reputable, long-time seller and doesn’t appear to be a fence. eBay doesn’t tolerate that kind of stuff if they can find it.
I would also do a reasonable amount of due diligence in terms of research. But at the end of the day, you can’t completely guard against that unless it’s a serial-numbered item. I wouldn’t say never buy anything on places like eBay, but I would try to use some common sense and judgment.
I used to say I had a bad gut feeling. Then, a pastor friend of mine told me not to call the Holy Spirit a gut. It’s not a gut feeling; it’s God’s spirit — listen!
Dave’s latest project, EveryDollar, provides a free online budget tool. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.