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Getting affairs in order

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Dear Dave,

One of my relatives just discovered she has cancer. She’s a single mom with two young kids, and I’m not sure if she’s prepared to face something like this. What are the best steps she can take financially at this point?

–Shannon

Dear Shannon,

I’m really sorry to hear about this. I know cancer is a scary thing to hear, but please remember to pray and be there for her all you can. God willing, things can still turn out OK.

When people ask if a person has their affairs in order, they’re usually asking a couple of different questions. Are you right with God? Do you have life insurance and a will? Another priority is to have all the paperwork in your life organized and in a safe place, so someone you trust can handle the details if things don’t turn out well.

Everyone should have a good term life insurance policy in place. My advice is to have a policy worth 10 times your annual income. When it comes to a will, make sure it’s state specific. Probate and estate regulations are not federal laws, they’re state laws.

So any will should be drawn up according to guidelines for the state in which you live.

Make sure, too, that she has made arrangements for any minor children. It might be a good idea to sit down and talk with two or three trusted family members or close friends and decide who will take them if the worst should happen. Whoever this is should be incredibly responsible and caring, and willing to love and raise these kids as if they were their very own.

Good luck with talking to your relative, Shannon. And God bless you and your family.

–Dave

Going into

emergency mode

Dear Dave,

My wife just received news that her company will experience significant layoffs in the next two months. On top of all this, she’s one of the newest workers there. We’ve been trying to follow your plan, but what should we do with the possibility of unemployment on the horizon?

Tyler

Dear Tyler,

It’s a pretty safe bet that your wife will lose her job, especially if she’s new to the company. If what she makes right now is a significant portion of your overall income, my advice would be to press pause on your Total Money Makeover and build up your savings as much as possible.

I love that you guys are trying to take control of your money, but right now there are storm clouds brewing in your financial lives. Sit down together and come up with a seriously belt-tightening budget. Scrape together every nickel you can from every area of your lives and put it into savings. Things like going to the movies or eating out are going to be a big no-no for a while. And you may have to look at the possibility of cutting some other non-essentials, like television. There’s nothing good on these days anyway! 

If they do lay her off, she might be looking at a severance package, but at this point you can’t really count on that happening. So batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. The best way to do that right now is save, save, save!

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is the author of four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.

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