Dave says: Be gentle, he’s moving in the right direction

Published 10:50 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

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Dear Dave,

We’re following your Baby Steps plan, and we’ve paid off all our credit cards. But when I talked to my husband the other day about cutting up the cards and closing the accounts, he said he would rather keep the accounts open, and the cards locked away in a drawer for use as an emergency fund. He says this will help us have an emergency fund in place quicker than saving for one. I think there’s more behind his reasoning, though. He grew up in a very poor family, and I wonder if he’s not afraid of somehow ending up in that kind of situation again. What can I do to convince him to follow your advice?

— Ramona

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Dear Ramona,

I think you’re a very perceptive lady. You said your husband grew up in poverty, right? So, what I’m hearing is the cards represent almost a security blanket for him—a financial security blanket. I get that, but here’s the thing. If you had a fully funded emergency fund of three to six months of expenses sitting in the bank, I’m talking about hard cold cash, you’d have the security of knowing that the expense of a new air conditioning unit or transmission for the car would only be a minor inconvenience. And, you’d be able to cover it easily without going back into debt.

Instead of actively trying to convince him of something, a better route might be to sit down together and talk through the whole thing. Explain to him you think you know why he feels the way he does, and that it’s understandable. Then, ask him if there’s a reasonable amount you two could have in the bank that would help him stop worrying. Discuss it, agree on an amount and then agree to cut the cards up and close the accounts when you reach that figure. Remind him, too, you’d still have your debit cards in hand in the event of an emergency.

Above all, Ramona, make sure you work together. Be patient and understanding. If he has recognized the wisdom of getting rid of debt and taking control of your finances, he’s moving in the right direction!

— Dave

Dave Ramsey is an eight-time national bestselling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people take control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for Ramsey Solutions.