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Dave Says: Finding a work/life balance requires deliberate intent

Dear Dave,

As a business owner, how do you find a life balance between work and home? I have my own small business, and sometimes I feel like I’m putting in too much time at the shop and not spending enough time with my husband and kids.

Molly

Dear Molly,

The idea of everything being in balance, on an everyday basis, is a myth. It’s simply not possible to perfectly juggle every aspect of our lives every single day.

The key, I think, is to strive for an overall balance over time. You know first-hand the long hours and how work can interfere with other things if you’re not careful. The answer lies in really being into whatever you’re doing.

When you’re not at your shop or taking care of work-related matters, actively participate in conversations with your spouse and kids—and listen. Spend time with them! Turn off your cell phone when you go on dates with your husband and when you take your kids on outings.

When you’re with your family you should really be with them. Then, when you have to work, chances are they won’t be so upset, and you’ll feel better about things, too!

—Dave 

Don’t go too far when teaching your kids money management

Dear Dave,

Our son is 17, and he is in school. He has a good part-time job, and my wife and I started teaching him basic money management at a young age. He understands the importance of saving, giving, and spending, plus he is setting aside money for technical school after he graduates from high school. Do you think it would be an appropriate real-world exercise if we started charging him a very small amount in rent each month to prepare him for life when he leaves home?

Barry

Dear Barry,

I appreciate the fact that you’re looking for teachable moments, but I really think charging a teenager rent while he’s living at home is going too far. Now, if he was 28 or 29, that’d be a different story. But as parents, it’s still your responsibility to provide a home for your 17-year-old child.

It sounds like you’ve done a fantastic job already of helping your son grow into a responsible young man. He knows how to work, and he has grasped the basic concepts of managing money. I meet people three times his age on a regular basis who still haven’t done that. With this kind of start, I’ve got a feeling your kid will be fine.

I also think, with this kind of start, he has a great chance of becoming wealthy some day!

—Dave 

There’s a way to avoid credit cards when traveling for business

Dear Dave,

I’m an admissions counselor for a university, and I make $37,000 a year. I spend a lot of time on the road, and I’m trying to get out of debt, but I have one credit card I’m still using for travel expenses. The university refunds me for these expenses, which always run $300 to $400 per trip, but usually it takes about three weeks for this to happen. Do you have any advice for someone in my situation? 

Roxanne

Dear Roxanne,

Let’s set up an account, and prime the pump once. By this, I mean in the next few months I want you save up $500, then open a separate checking account for reimbursable travel expenses only. Make sure a debit card is attached to the account, too.

If you put $500 into this account one time, you’ll never have to save for it again. You’ll use some of that money for your travel expenses—on your debit card—and when they reimburse you, you’ll put the reimbursement check directly into your travel account. After you get the initial $500 in there, your travel account will run off your reimbursement checks.

Lots of people carry credit cards on the road for expenses, but often they’ll end up buying things that aren’t reimbursable. It happens to everyone who travels. Then, over time, you accidentally run up credit card debt. But when you use a debit card with an account that’s completely separate, and you’re not using it for anything except reimbursable travel expenses, it’ll help you become a lot more disciplined with your purchases on the road.    

Everyone who travels a lot does some stress eating and stress spending. Why? Because being on the road often, or for long periods of time, is no fun. The only people who think travel for work is glamorous are those who don’t do it for living!

—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 15 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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