My wife and I are debt-free except for our home, and were on Baby Steps 4 and 5. Recently, we were asked to make a large donation to a charity we already support. We dont have the full cash amount they asked for on hand, and after hearing that, they said we could make monthly installment payments until the donation amount was paid in full. Were hesitant to do this because it seems a bit like debt to us. What do you think?
Well, its not debt. There would be no repercussions, other than guilt, if you couldnt make the full donation. So, its not debt. To be honest though, I dont engage in that kind of stuff when it comes to giving.
My wife and I do all our giving -- except for our tithe to our local church -- through our family foundation. Sometimes well do this giving in a couple of installments, but its not because we dont have the money. Its generally a situation where were walking with the charity or ministry throughout the year, and were observing and assessing the need.
Id be hesitant to give a gift when I dont have the money. Most of the time, approaches like this fall under the heading of manipulation. Youre being pushed beyond your means. Most giving of this type, biblically speaking, would be from surplus. And right now, you dont have the surplus.
Im kind of uncomfortable with this, Ben. I dont engage in making gift promises beyond what I have. Its not debt, but it kind of starts to feel like it, and its not so much living beyond your means as it is giving beyond your means. Thats just another reason it doesnt strike the right chord with me.
Know where to go
I am 18-years-old and homeschooled. I want to continue my education this fall, and my dad works at a college near our home. I would get free tuition, but theres another college farther from home that I like just as much -- but its more expensive. On the plus side, it is a Christian school, and my faith is important to me. What do you think I should do?
Free tuition is a major plus in my book. At the same time, I can understand your desire to get out from under mom and dads wings a little bit. Just dont make the mistake of thinking that a school, church or anything else is completely Christian. Youll meet some of the wildest characters ever at a Christian school, just like you would at a public university. However, you would have the advantage of a built-in spiritual support network.
All things considered, and since you mentioned your faith specifically, Id probably choose the Christian school. But I wouldnt go into debt to make it happen. Theres absolutely no reason why you cant work and go to school at the same time. Pay it as you go. I did it, and I finished with good grades in 4 years. Its a little bit harder way to go, but its a lot better than ending up with a ton of student loan debt when youre through.
-- 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.