'I'm 70 And Only Have $900 To My Name' — Caller Asks Dave Ramsey If Refinancing Mortgage And Using Equity To Build A Garage Is A Good Move

Sandi, a resident of the quaint town of Ocean Shores, located two hours west of Olympia, recently sought financial advice on the widely-followed Dave Ramsey Show in a video titled "I'm 70 And Only Have $900 To My Name."

Her query revolved around a long-cherished dream to build a detached garage on her property. The house, which lacks a garage, is currently valued at approximately $190,000, with an outstanding mortgage of $136,000.

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"I would need to refinance the house and take out enough equity to do this, up to $20,000," Sandi explained to Ramsey. She then asked the burning question: "Would this be a good move? I'm retired."

Sandi, who is 70 years old, disclosed her modest financial resources, revealing she has only $900 in savings. Her income primarily comes from Social Security and a teacher's retirement plan, providing about $25,000 annually. Occasionally, she supplements this with income from substitute teaching, bringing her total yearly income to around $30,000.

Dave Ramsey, known for his firm stance against debt, responded with his characteristic concern and straightforward advice. "I do not want my new 70-year-old friend with $900 to go further into debt," Ramsey said emphatically. "I'd love for you to have a garage, but I love more that you've got a very low house payment that you can manage with the income that you have coming in."

Despite Sandi's hopes to enhance her property and perhaps improve her quality of life, Ramsey's advice was unequivocal: avoid additional debt. He noted that taking on more debt at her stage in life, given her limited savings and fixed income, could be risky and detrimental to her financial stability. "You are a frugal, common-sense lady, and you've got a little bit of garage fever going here. Usually, a good cold shower will fix those fevers," he added with a touch of humor.

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The interaction between Sandi and Ramsey highlights a common financial dilemma many retirees face: balancing the desire for home improvements and other life enhancements with the stark realities of fixed incomes and limited savings. For Sandi, the dream of a new garage must be weighed against the practical advice of staying debt-free and maintaining financial security.

While not everyone can consult Ramsey directly, you can always seek guidance from your own financial advisor. These experts can provide detailed advice to ensure you are on track financially to achieving all your goals — whether they're saving for retirement, remodeling your home, or building a garage. 

In a world where many face similar choices, Sandi's story reminds us of the importance of careful financial planning and the value of seeking sound advice when making significant financial decisions. As Ramsey often advocates, living within one's means and avoiding unnecessary debt are crucial steps toward achieving long-term financial stability and peace of mind.

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