I’m a small-business owner with a lawn care franchise. It’s common in our industry, after the season is over, to send out pre-pay letters for the upcoming season. If we send out these letters offering a five or 10 percent discount for early payment on next year’s services, is that too similar to borrowing money from our customers at five to 10 percent?
Not at all. I definitely would send pre-pay letters. It takes some of the seasonality “ouch” out of your financial equation, and it gives them the opportunity to take advantage of a bargain. It’s not a bad plan from a marketing standpoint for your business, either. You might even be able to add some new customers with an offer like this.
You obviously have to be really secure and confident in your ability to provide the service. Otherwise, you could end up in a really bad situation. Your equipment, staffing and track record in the business will all come into play. But if all this is strong, and you’ve been in the business for a number of years and plan on staying in the business for years to come, then this is something I’d definitely do.
Girlfriend debt account
I’m 29, and I have no debt. I’ve gotten a good start on my savings and retirement, too.
My girlfriend and I plan to get married in the next couple of years, and she has about $90,000 in debt. I’m not paying on her debt yet, but I think together we can save up enough to pay it off by the time we’re married. Should I temporarily slow down saving for a house and start saving toward paying off her debt?
Yes, I would have a "girlfriend debt" account. That way when she becomes your wife, you two can write a check the moment you get back from the honeymoon and be debt-free — or at least knock out a huge portion of the debt. After that, the two of you — as in we — resume saving for retirement, a house and so on.
That, James, is exactly what I would do. You’re right in line with my thinking on this, brother. Best of luck to you both.
• 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 12 million listeners each week on 575 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.