Dear Dave: My husband and I are in our 50s, and we have just $12,000 to pay off before we’re debt-free. We’ve paid off almost $70,000 in debt in the last two years. We would like to buy a house soon, but we know we also need an emergency fund.
It would take us almost a year to build up an emergency fund, so should we make adjustments to the Baby Steps since we’re getting older?
Dear Dawn: No! It shouldn’t take you two a year to build up an emergency fund considering the rate at which you’ve been paying off debt. You need a fully funded emergency fund or three to six months of expenses set aside before you start saving for a down payment on a home.
You’ve been making great progress, and you obviously have a good income to be able to pay off debt that quickly. Maybe in your case you could lean a little more toward the three-month side with your emergency fund before you start saving for a house. Then, after you’re all moved in, you could revisit the emergency fund and beef it up to six months.
Just stay on course and stick with the plan, Dawn. Fifty isn’t old. You two have plenty of time to get your finances in order, find a great home, and look forward to many great years ahead!
Dear Dave: My wife and I make good money, and our daughter’s college education is pretty much paid for through pre-paid tuition and scholarships. We just started your plan to get out of debt and take better control of our finances. When we get to Baby Step 5, which is saving for college, can we substitute that with saving for a wedding?
Dear Bob: That would be fine. I’m glad you’re thinking ahead.
It’s always a good idea to save toward a wedding if you have the financial resources to do so, because weddings are real and they’re coming.
The average wedding in America today runs around $35,000. Of course, you don’t have to pay anywhere near that amount to make it a beautiful occasion. Your household income, debt, savings and other factors will all play into how much you can afford.
Just remember to pay cash for the wedding, Bob. If you have to go into debt to make it happen, then you’re talking about too much money. It’s as simple as that. Crunch the numbers with your wife, and see what you two can handle.
And remember, there’s absolutely no correlation between the cost of a wedding and the success of the relationship!
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