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Ask Dave: Flipping property is a hands-on business

Oct. 15, 2011 at 5:15 a.m.


By Dave Ramsey

I live in New York, and even though I follow your advice and live on a budget, it's really hard to save up for a down payment on a house. My family in South Carolina advised me to buy cheaper property down there, fix it up and flip it to get the money I need. Does this sound like a good plan to you? - Adrian

I wouldn't do it. Fixing and flipping properties is a very hands-on business, and trying to do it from another state could be a nightmare - especially with the weirdness in today's economy.

When you take on this kind of work, you need to oversee what's happening every step of the way. You're also working out the details, and keeping an eye on the crew to make sure they're doing things right. Besides, you can't just walk up to a house, buy it and expect to get a great deal.

Professionals who flip houses for a living often look at 100 or more properties to buy just one. It's not an easy way to make money, and it's definitely not something to consider doing from a distance.

Just keep on working the budget, and save as much as you can. You might even consider getting a part-time job for a while to bring in some extra cash. But waiting and saving up is a lot smarter plan than fixing and flipping houses 900 miles away!

My girlfriend and I recently got engaged, and our parents are contributing financially to the wedding. We've noticed that both sets of parents are pressing their ideas of what they'd like the wedding to be like, who to invite and who to include in the wedding party. I know in the end it's our call, but traditionally do parents have some kind of say if they contribute money to help pay for the wedding? - Chris

No. Traditionally, they take a say. And traditionally they're a pain in the behind. But they only interfere because they're so excited and love you so much. They want to be part of the happiness and for everything to be perfect.

As soon as they deliver a little girl, lots of mothers start planning their daughters' wedding. They've had several years to dream and form an opinion on this, and your fiancé's mom has probably been doing it, too.

Since this is such an emotional event, I think you two need to have some reasonable boundaries. But you also should keep in mind that your parents are just as excited - if not more - than you guys are. When you come to a disagreement, tell them firmly, but gently, that you love them, but you're going to do things your way. If they're footing part of the bill, they'd have the right to decide not to pay for something, but unless there's some moral issue involved, they probably won't act badly.

I think if you just step back and take a breath, you'll realize what a big deal this is to everyone involved. Chances are, you'll also be able to come up with some creative ways to allow them to participate without your wedding losing its identity.

My biggest suggestion to you is to make sure that you're the buffer between your fiancé and the parents. Don't let anyone push her around, and do everything you can to make sure your wedding is what you both want it to be.

For financial help, visit daveramsey.com.

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