My husband and I are trying to follow your plan. We've paid off all of our credit cards, but he still doesn't want to close the accounts and cut up the cards. Instead, he wants to keep them in a drawer and use them as an emergency fund. He grew up really poor, and I think he's afraid of being poor again. We both know that's not what you recommend, so what can I do to convince him to follow your advice?
I think rather than trying to convince him, it might be a better idea to gently ask questions and talk things through. You said he grew up in poverty. What I'm hearing is that the cards represent a kind of security blanket for him. I can understand that. But if you had $10,000 set aside for emergencies, you'd have the security of knowing that a transmission repair on the car or a new water heater for the house would only be a minor inconvenience — and you wouldn't have to go back into debt to make things right again.
Explain to him that what you'd like to do is replace the credit cards with your own money. You'd also be replacing what they do with a debit card. Ask him if there's a reasonable amount you two could have in the bank that would take away his worry and stress. Talk it out, agree on the amount, and then agree that when you've saved up and hit that number, the cards get cut up and the accounts are closed.
Just be patient and understanding. Above all, make sure you work together. If he's recognized the wisdom of getting out of debt and taking control of your finances, he's moving in the right direction!
Dave Ramsey is America's trusted voice on money and business, and 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 Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.