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Dave Says

Sometimes Tough Love is the Only Way to Break Bad Money Habits

Dear Dave,

My older sister hasnt worked in two years. She hasnt even looked for a job, shes 36, and shes been living with our parents the whole time. They want to set her up in an apartment and pay the rent, but I think this is a bad idea. I love her, but what can you do for someone like this?


Dear Dee,

First of all, your parents arent helping matters. She needs a job and a future, and shes not going to find either one as long as mom and dad are enabling her irresponsible behavior. Its sad for parents when they see their children harming themselves through their own stupidity and laziness. Shes being both stupid and lazy, and unfortunately, these things arent illegal.

There may not be a great ending to this story, because it all rests on your sister. She has the entire family tied up in knots, and in a sense, shes controlling everyone right now. But if you want my advice, here it is. Give her the address of the nearest homeless shelter, and send her on her way.

Right now, shes not just lazy and irresponsible, shes arrogant. And arrogance can only be erased after someone has been broken. When shes been broken, then shell be coachable. In situations like this, you have to love someone enough to let them be broken. Otherwise, theyll continue in the same destructive behavior pattern.

This is sad, and I wish none of you were involved in such a mess. But shes had the opportunity to stop this inappropriate behavior at any point during the last two years. Chances are, if shell change her attitude and become more humble and trainable, she can build from there.


Dear Dave,

Were working on our debt snowball and are scheduled to become debt-free except for our home a year from now. The problem is Ive got a very old car thats on its last legs. Would it be okay for us to put the debt snowball on hold for a month or two, and save up money for a newer, inexpensive used car thats in better shape?


Dear Jonathan,

Id hold on to it if your car can make it a while longer. But if its really on its last legs, and youre about to fall through a rusted floorboard, you might consider your plan. You need to ask yourself if youre just whining, or if its an actual situation.

It sounds like you guys are doing a fabulous job so far of paying down your debt. Even if you take a month or two off to save up for a better car, youll still have everything paid off except the house in about the same period of time. Im not going to fuss about a couple of months difference in this kind of situation.

Doesnt it feel great when you actually sit down and take a moment to think and formulate a plan instead of just wandering around lost? You guys have thought this thing out, and now youre ready to move ahead with a sensible idea!


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Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business, and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored five New York Times best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 8.5 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations. Dave’s latest project, EveryDollar, provides a free online budget tool. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at

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