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The Dave Ramsey Show

Dave Ramsey Says: Tackle financial anxiety one ‘slow, sure’ step at a time

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Dear Dave,

After listening to your show, I want to try to get control of my finances, but I’m afraid to open up the bills. I make about $60,000 a year, but it’s a real struggle just to keep my head above water financially. My checking account is always overdrawn, and I don’t know where to start catching up. Can you help?

Gail


Dear Gail,

Trust me, I know it can be scary. But the easiest way to attack this thing is by taking one slow, sure step at a time. Try not to let worry consume you in the process, either.

First, sit down, take a deep breath, and open all the unopened bills. Throw away any duplicates, and keep only the most recent statements and notices. The unknown is always scarier than the known, so facing the bills and cutting that stack in half right off the bat will help reduce a lot of your initial anxiety.

Next, let’s start a debt snowball. List all the debts you owe, from smallest to largest, making one column for the payoff balance, one column for the amount you need to get current on that debt and one column for the single payment amount when you get current. Then total each column — the payoff balance, the amount to get current, and the single payment. I promise it won’t be as bad as you think.

Finally, make a monthly budget. Prioritize your needs, starting with food, utilities, house payments and transportation. When it comes to your debts, pay as much as you can on the smallest one while making minimum payments on all the others.

You can do this, Gail. If you’ll follow my plan, I think you’ll see improvement in several areas of your life and you’ll feel good about the progress you’re making, too!

—Dave

Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 12 million listeners each week on 575 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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