News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Dave Ramsey

Should a teen have emergency funds?

Dear Dave: My daughter is 17, in high school and has a car and a part-time job. Should a teenager have an emergency fund? If so, how much money should she set aside? — Darlene

Dear Darlene: Three to six months of expenses is what I recommend for adults, and thatís generally a good rule of thumb for teenagers, too. But she wonít need as big an emergency fund as a married couple with kids if her expenses consist solely of her car and her social life. Iíd suggest saving up about three months worth of what it takes to operate the car — gas, maintenance and insurance. Those are her financial needs right now. — Dave

How can I help brother?

Dear Dave: My brother and I recently received an inheritance after our mom died. Heís never been very good with money, so I was proud of him when he used his portion to pay off his debts. But then he went out and financed a $23,000 van that I know he still canít afford. Iím afraid heís falling right back into the same old money problems, but I donít know how to talk to him about it. — Diana

Dear Diana: Over the years Iíve learned that you canít make people listen to you. Even with what I do for a living, I donít throw my opinion around unless someone asks.

I think youíre smart for realizing there are some boundaries here. But thereís no reason you canít create a situation where he can ask your opinion. You might begin with talking about some of the mistakes youíve made in the past. This could help him connect with you and feel more comfortable opening up about his own situation. Once he realizes you havenít repeated the same mistakes and have a better life for it, he might just ask how you did it. Then, the door is open!

But you canít become preachy every time someone does something dumb. That will only hurt their feelings and cause them to tune you out completely. — Dave

Getting a will

Dear Dave: My wife and I both agree that we need to get a will, but we donít know where to start. Can you help? — John

Dear John: First, find a good estate attorney who does wills. In your situation, Iíd suggest a mirror image will.

All this type of will does is switch the names on the documents. Otherwise, theyíre identical. If you die your wife gets everything, and if you die she gets it all. If something really awful happens and you both die at the same time, then everything is dispersed according to what you both want.

A mirror image will usually doesnít cost as much as having two separate wills drawn up, either. Or for an inexpensive will, check out — Dave

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