Monday, September 26, 2016

Wife's dad is paying half of our car payment monthly

DEAR DAVE: My wife and I are debt-free except for a car and our house. The car is financed through her mom, and her dad agreed to send us half of the payment each month. We owe $7,700 on the car, and we have enough cash right now to pay off the car in full with plenty left over. Should we do this, even though her dad is making $100 of the payment each month?

— Dustin

DEAR DUSTIN: If her father had agreed to send you guys $100 each month, ask him to continue doing that for the duration of the agreement. Then, you guys pay off the car now with your cash. There's nothing dishonest about this, as long as you explain the plan to her parents and they're agreeable.

The reason for this approach is twofold: It gets the debt paid off, and then you can get the car put in your name. Plus, a situation like this represents drama just looking for a place to happen, if it hasn't already. Family relationships take on a weird vibe when money has been loaned and borrowed.

If they're not agreeable to the idea, that's OK. All you can do is ask. But one way or another, I'd be out of this situation before the sun goes down.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Best way to build wealth is to become debt free

DEAR DAVE: My husband and I own three commercial buildings in Boise, Idaho, that are leased out long-term. We owe about $500,000 on one and $400,000 on each of the others, and they earn $190,000. The only other debt we have is a small amount left on our mortgage. I know you don't like debt, but is it OK to owe on commercial properties that are making good money?

— Dawn

DEAR DAWN: I own several commercial buildings and I don't owe a dime on any of them. So, I can't tell you that I think it's okay to have debt on commercial buildings. I believe the best plan for building wealth is to become debt-free.

Now, from the situation you've described, that doesn't necessarily mean you guys should be in panic mode and start selling everything in sight. But I do think that you should systematically work your way out from under these debts over the next few years.

If I were in your shoes, I'd go ahead and get the house paid off first. Then, I'd take a look at these commercial properties and begin working the debt snowball on them. Start throwing as much money as you can at the smallest debt, while making minimum payments on the other two. When you get it paid off, roll that amount over — along with every dime you can dig up — and attack the second largest one. Follow these steps until you pay off all of your commercial properties.

It might take up to 10 years in your case, because we're talking about at least $1.3 million in debt. If you have a bunch of equity in one you don't particularly like, you might consider selling it and throwing the cash at the remaining two. But whatever the timeline, I'd develop a game plan to get rid of this debt.

Wouldn't it be cool to have all that paid for? Talk about cash flow!

Monday, September 12, 2016

What is Deferred compensation

Deferred compensation simply means you are electing to defer and receive a portion of your compensation at a later time or date. People who use these types of plans have a portion of their compensation withheld and directed into an investment of some kind instead, and you aren’t taxed on it immediately. It’s sort of like a pre-tax investment, but it’s not transferrable to an IRA or 401(k).

I would only do deferred compensation after I’ve done everything else in terms of saving 15 percent of my income for retirement, including a Roth IRA. These are funded by after-tax dollars, but they grow tax-free. But I wouldn’t do any of this until after I had paid off all my debt, except for my home, and had an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses in place.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My kids went to public schools instead of private schools

Dear Dave, 
Our three kids are enrolled in a private Christian school. It’s a great place, and we truly believe our kids are getting a wonderful, faith-based education, but the tuition is pretty expensive. We’ve already had to start digging into our savings to make this happen, and the kids are only in elementary school. Should we keep them enrolled, or should we transfer them to public school? 

Dear Maureen, 

I understand wanting your kids to get the best education possible. Private schools can provide some advantages academically, while a good Christian school might offer spiritual advantages. But the bottom line is this: If you can’t cash flow it, you shouldn’t do it.

All of my kids went to public schools, and they are good, moral people and strong Christians. In the process, they learned how to interact with people of all faiths, no faith, and how to display their faith and beliefs adequately in their personal lives and in the marketplace.

The truth is, you’ll find great things and bad things in any school, private or public, Christian or not. And no matter where your kids go to school, as parents, you still have to teach them about the world — the good and the bad, the right and the wrong. Life can’t be lived inside a protective bubble.