Ask Dave: Always secure settlement offers with creditors in writing

March 26, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 25, 2011 at 10:26 p.m.

By Dave Ramsey

I called a creditor recently to settle an old debt. They offered a settlement, but said it was their policy not to put settlement offers in writing. Should I accept the deal?

No way. If you don't have anything in writing, then you have no proof that they extended the offer or agreed to a specific amount. The only one who will have "proof" of anything in this scenario is the creditor, and that's just asking for trouble.

My suggestion for handling this ridiculous situation goes something like this: Explain to them that you seem to have reached an impasse because you have a policy of never accepting settlements and handing out money unless the settlements are in writing. No writing, no money. It's not a hard concept to understand, and it's fair to both parties.

I'd like to move to Las Vegas when I retire in about 10 years. I've saved up quite a bit of money and could pay cash for a property now. Should I go ahead and buy, and maybe rent it out for a while, or wait until I actually retire?

If you can pay cash now and still have plenty of savings left over, then there's no reason not to go ahead and buy. The housing bubble has burst out there, and you'll be able to find some real bargains in and around Vegas.

I'm not big on being a long-distance landlord, but I'd be tempted to do it in a situation like this. Keep in mind that you'll probably have to renovate the place if you rent it out for several years. It's just the nature of things in the rental world, so make sure you figure that into your cash plan - and your emotional plan, too

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