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Dave Ramsey says: Prioritize spending while trying to pay off debt

FILE - In this June 15, 2017, file photo, a customer inserts a credit card to buy gas in Haverhill, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Dear Dave,

My mom and dad are following your advice, and they are working hard to get out of debt. I was wondering, is it OK to buy things while you’re paying off the debt you already have?

— Leslie

Dear Leslie,

I’m glad you’re paying attention to the finances around your house. Of course, there are some things you must have. We call these “necessities.”

Most things are not necessities, though. If your air conditioning breaks down, or you have car repairs, those are things you must spend money on to fix.

Things like new furniture, vacations, and eating at restaurants are not necessities. They’re things you might want, but they’re not necessary — especially when you’re trying to pay off debt.

I always recommend people take a hard look at their priorities, and remember there’s a difference between wanting something and needing something to survive. It can be hard, and it may mean everyone has to go without a few things they want for a while. But if your parents are serious about getting out of debt, they’ll do it. And it really won’t take all that long.

Great question, Leslie!

— 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 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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