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Dave Ramsey says: If there’s no money to splurge on gift, bow out of promise

(Unsplash.com Photo/Felix Russell-Shaw)

Dear Dave,

My husband and I are just starting Baby Step 1 of your plan.

Prior to this, we told my two nephews we would buy them laptop computers for college. They don’t get a lot of encouragement or support from their immediate family, so we try to help them when we can.

Should we go ahead and honor this commitment, postpone getting our starter emergency fund in place, and possibly take on a little more debt, or bow out of the agreement?

— Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Well, it’s difficult to be generous when you’re broke. You don’t even have $1,000 to your names, and you’re going to buy two laptops?

I don’t know how much debt you have, or what your household income is, but I do know neither of you have managed your money very well in the past.

If you make $50,000 a year, and you have $70,000 in debt, you should sincerely and apologetically bow out.

Explain that you made a big mistake, and just be honest about why you can’t provide the laptops.

If you make $200,000 a year, but you’ve just been incredibly silly and lazy with your money, you should buy the laptops and then get serious about growing up and getting control of your finances.

Don’t make promises, financial or otherwise, you can’t keep. I know this is a tough, embarrassing situation, but it’s what I would do if I were in your shoes.

— Dave

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