News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2007

Dave Ramsey

Oldest stepchild calls only when he needs money

Dear Dave: I have three stepchildren, the oldest of which is in the Army and stationed in Japan. Heís also married and has a little baby. But the only time we hear from them is when they want money. We donít mind helping out once in a while, but his wife just seems lazy. She stays at home all the time, and doesnít help bring in any money. What can we do to fix all this? — Cindy

Dear Cindy: When your relationship with someone is based on you giving them money, then you donít have a relationship. But there may be other reasons they arenít calling very much.

If you say things about his wife being lazy when you do talk, it probably makes them both angry. If this is the case, they may call only when theyíre desperate enough to put up with your comments about her. Plus, taking care of a baby is one of the hardest full-time jobs around. The value or importance of what someone does isnít always reflected in a paycheck.

But I donít think you should be giving them money all the time either. You could try gently giving advice instead. Maybe they need to be on a budget, or perhaps they should be spending less.

Regardless, Iím always against perpetuating relationships that are based on handing out money. — Dave

Get out of listing contract?

Dear Dave: Weíre trying to sell our house, and it doesnít seem like our real estate agent, who is also the owner of the real estate company, is doing much to facilitate the process. He said heíd do lots of things to help us sell the house, but we didnít get any of those promises in writing. We signed a six-month listing contract. Is it possible to get out of this? — Shelly

Dear Shelly: You may have to ride this one out. Usually, in a case like this you can appeal to the owner of the company. But because the owner is also the one not getting the job done, you might have trouble.

Try to schedule a face-to-face, sit-down meeting with this guy. Confront him about the broken promises heís made to you, and tell him he should do the right thing and let you out of the contract. Then, if heís not willing to do the right thing let him know that youíll just flat out pull the house off the market.

And from this point on, Shelly, get everything that happens in writing! — Dave

Legal issues & money

Husbandís name on in-laws account ... bad?

Dear Dave: My in-laws had a small business, and my husbandís name was on their checking account so he could sign checks or pay bills if they werenít in. Now, theyíre about to declare bankruptcy. Will his name being on that checking account affect us in any way? — Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth: You guys need to go to the bank, and get his name off that account now!

If his name is on the checks, then heís probably one of the owners of the account. And if this is the case, he could be liable for overdrafts or anything else associated with it.

Youíll also want to look into whether or not theyíve used that account to pay payroll taxes. Thereís a chance that the federal government might try to come after the account those payroll taxes were written on.

But if the payroll taxes are current and he gets his name off the account, I donít think you guys will have any liability. Check with an attorney to be sure, though. — Dave

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