I think Dave Ramsey would be proud of me. I don't have any debt. I've built an emergency fund, just in case. I invest more than the recommended percentage of my income into retirement savings.
And yet I always feel a sense of financial dread, like any moment the wheels might come off and I could find myself in dire straits. In actuality, the common-sense methods I have put in place, which Ramsey advocates, are protection against that happening, and yet I still can't help but worry. It's a learned trait, I think. As a kid, I saw my dad stress over money all of the time. We always seemed to get by OK, although without the niceties some of my friends enjoyed, but he felt a constant fear that there would never be enough, agonizing over money at times.
In truth, Dad didn't have enough. He was able to retire a few years back only after being approved for full government disability resulting from a lingering injury he suffered during his time in the Army 40 years earlier. Too old and hurt to continue his work, it took a bureaucratic miracle to keep him afloat at the most important juncture of his financial life. And all that led me to similarly stress over my finances when I became an adult. By doing so at an earlier age and staying well ahead of the game, the hope is I won't need any miracles. When I'm being honest with myself instead of letting my nagging emotions speak, I'm confident. Ironically, it is my dad's money woes that might have provided the impetus for improved finances in our family for generations to come.
Ramsey offers a similar story of bouncing back from lessons learned. He overcame a bankruptcy at an early age to create a massively successful company that has helped millions of people solve their money problems. The depths of despair he felt when his original company collapsed were the spur toward lasting success. It's a story that makes Ramsey the perfect cover guy this...