Dave Ramsey is a money-management expert, national radio personality and best-selling author. His column appears regularly in American Profile.
My husband and I have been trying to follow your plan. We paid off our car payments a few months ago, and that freed up $740 a month. We have two small children, and wed like to take a camping trip in a few months, but we would need a roomier vehicle. We found a used van, and we think we could have it paid off in 12 months. Wed still have more money left than before, so would this be OK?
Melissa in Wichita, Kan.
Dave Says: Im confused. Are you telling me that you just got out from under $740 worth of car payments each month, and now you want to go right back and pick up another one? I think youve missed the point of my plan. The point is to get out of debt, because living debt-free is less stressful. Live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else!
What youre saying is youre thinking about putting your familys financial future in jeopardy because you want to go on a little camping trip in a roomier car. This is a bad, bad plan! Youre talking about a luxury item. I went without a vacation for four years trying to get my life back together after I went broke. Now, Im not suggesting that you live with this attitude for the rest of your life, but Im pretty sure there are other ways to make this trip happen.
You dont need a different vehicle to go camping. Buy a couple of tents, throw them in the back of the car, and head for the woods. If your cars are really just too small to handle everything, then rent a bigger car for the weekend. Id rather you spend a couple hundred bucks on that instead of picking up another car payment!
I think you need to do some soul searching on this one, Melissa. Your mindset worries me. Its just not logical. If you want to get out of debt so you can have a better life, then why in the world would you go out and saddle yourself with more debt all over again?