News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Dave Ramsey

Set boundaries with parents over wedding

Dear Dave: I’m engaged, and our parents are contributing financially to the wedding. But we’ve noticed that both sets are pressing their ideas of what they’d like the wedding to be like, whom to invite and whom to include in the wedding party. I know in the end it’s our call, but traditionally do parents have some kind of say if they contribute money to help pay for the wedding? — Chris

Dear Chris: No. Traditionally, they take a say. And traditionally they’re a pain in the behind. But they interfere only because they’re so excited and love you so much. They want to be part of the happiness and for everything to be perfect.

As soon as they deliver a little girl, mothers start planning their daughters’ wedding. They’ve had several years to dream and form an opinion on this, and your mother has probably been planning your wedding in her mind for some time, as well.

Because this is such an emotional event, I think you and your fiancee need to have some reasonable boundaries. But you also should keep in mind that they’re just as excited — if not more — than you two are. When you come to a disagreement, tell them firmly, but gently, that you love them, but that you’re going to do things your way. If they’re footing part of the bill, they’d have the right to decide not to pay for something, but unless there’s some moral issue involved, they probably won’t act that way.

I think if you step back and take a breath, you’ll realize what a big deal this is to everyone involved. Chances are you’ll also be able to devise creative ways to allow them to participate without your wedding losing its identity.

My biggest suggestion to you is to make sure that you’re the buffer between your fiancee and the parents. Don’t let anyone push her around, and do everything you can to make sure your wedding is the day you both want it to be. There’s no reason this can’t be a fun and joyous day for all.

Best wishes. — Dave

General contractor
or builder?

Dear Dave: My husband and I are trying to decide whether we want our own general contractor or if we should just hire a builder for our dream home. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having your own general contractor? — Beverly

Dear Beverly: Typically, in a residential situation the builder is the general contractor. The term “general contractor” just means that they manage all the subcontractors.

One person coordinates the jobs of the carpenter, electrician, heating and air guys and so on.

A good builder — or general contractor — can be your best friend on a construction project.

But a bad one can make you want to pull your hair out.

Do some research and get plenty of references before choosing, Beverly. Interview a few of these guys if you want. You don’t want your dream home experience turning into a nightmare. — Dave


Dear Dave: What is your stance on a variable annuity as an IRA option? — Harvey

Dear Harvey: It’s a horrible option. I would never do a variable annuity inside a retirement account, and here’s why.

A variable annuity is just a mutual fund wrapped in an annuity. The only reason some people get them — and pay the extra annuity fee — is because it grows tax-deferred. But here’s the catch. If you’ve got an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b), it’s already growing tax-deferred, so why pay additional money for something you’ve already got?

A variable annuity isn’t a really bad product unto itself, Harvey. It’s just way out of place in the kind of situation you’re talking about. — Dave

For more financial advice, special offers and Dave’s free “How to Get Out of Debt” CD, please visit or call (888) 22-PEACE.

Dave Ramsey Dave Ramsey
DAILY Columnist

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