Bogus real estate offers

Dear Dave,I’ve been seeing a lot of hand-made signs along the road here in Dallas lately. They say “Seeking real estate investor apprentice –$20,000 a month.” It also has a phone number listed. Do you know what this is about? It sounds too good to be true.Jerry

Dear Jerry,Of course it’s too good to be true! If someone’s offering a legitimate job making $20,000 a month do you really think they’re going to post it on a hand-made sign next to the road? I think your advertising budget will involve a little more than poster board and a stick if there’s really $20,000 a month involved. Give me a break!

It sounds to me like they’re trying to sell a questionable real estate seminar. A lot of these things are marketed as “real estate boot camps.” The premise is that over the course of a weekend they’ll teach you to buy and sell foreclosure properties. Some of them charge anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000, with the promise that if you follow the “guru” and his advice, then the “guru” will help you by buying the house with you. They’ll furnish the capital! Of course, seldom if ever do they even buy any houses, and if they do it’s the best possible deal that you might not want to share, anyway.

Anything that sounds too good to be true is too good to be true. It’s not any harder than that. Beverly Sills had it right when she said, “There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going.” Becoming wealthy isn’t easy. It takes lots of hard work, sacrifice and the willingness to live on less than you make.

Even the Bible talks about this kind of thing. Proverbs 28:20 says, “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” Remember that, Jerry!— Dave

Dear Dave,My husband and I have been married for about a year, and in that time we’ve been blessed with several financial gifts from our parents. We keep having this recurring discussion on how to use the money when it’s given to us. I came into the marriage with some debt we’re trying to pay off, but he feels like we should use this gift money like found money and have some fun. What do you think?Katie

Dear Katie,Unless the giver has very specific thoughts on how they’d like you to use the money, then it’s really up to you guys. If the giver wanted you to use it for something specific, though, they probably should have said so or just bought you the item in the first place.

Other than that, I think it’s time someone grew up a little bit and realized it’s not a birthday party when this kind of thing happens. It’s simply money that has come into your household—like a paycheck you’d get on the job, in other words. You don’t go out and blow $100 or whatever on toys or other fun just because it was handed to you by mom and dad. That’s how a 10-year-old behaves.

If there’s something you need, and you agree on it together and choose to buy it as a couple, that’s cool. I’ve got no problem with that. But you guys are just starting out, and you’ve got debts to pay. I’m sure he’s a good guy, but it’s time for him to start acting like an adult about this stuff and work with you on getting your financial lives in order!— Dave