Dave Ramsey Archives - Eva Varga

May 2, 2016

College tuition is expensive. I attended a state university in the 90s and even then, the cost of tuition, fees, and books was more than my parents could afford with three children and a blue-collar income.

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Sports Scholarship?We all want what is best for our kids. When it comes to sports, though, sometimes our parenting instincts get a little carried away. I am sure we all know parents who are pushing their kids to excel at their sport.

Only 2% of high school athletes are awarded sports scholarships at NCAA schools.

Sadly, only six sports offer “full-ride” scholarships: football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, tennis, and women’s gymnastics. Most college athletes have only partial scholarships. Even then, the amount of time they spend training and practicing their sport can severely impact their performance in the classroom.

A relation was awarded a “full-ride” scholarship in volleyball. She originally dreamed of becoming a doctor but the course load was not possible with her volleyball schedule. She graduated with a degree in business and after graduating, realized she would need to get an advanced degree (on her own dime) to be marketable. My brother in law also sought an additional degree after graduating with his bachelors degree on a track scholarship.

CNBC says you have a better chance of being admitted to Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Stanford than receiving an athletic scholarship in a major sport.

My kids are both swimmers. My son has had great success early and some of our team parents have encouraged us to pursue a more focused training regimen. Sports can be a great teacher. Our kids learn about teamwork, discipline, work ethic, being a good loser, and so many other important life lessons.

However, we are not chasing a scholarship. Swimming is important to us but we made a decision as a family long ago to strive for a simplified, joyful life. Conflicts arise regularly and we therefore don’t participate in all the swim meets on the team schedule. We weigh the pros and cons and make choices as a family.

It is inadvisable to spend more money on your child’s sports than you are putting in their college fund.

So — with all that said, how does a family provide for the higher education of their children. How can we manage to pay the rising cost of tuition?
Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.net

Teaching Our Kids About Money

One of the most important steps to financial independence is teaching our kids about money. We have never given our kids an allowance, expecting them to earn commission for their hard work when they were yet toddlers. 

We began applying Dave Ramsey principles to our life in earnest last year after listening to the audio book Smart Money, Smart Kids. Ramsey encourages kids to earn their own money and to set aside a percentage for their college education by earning commissions as well as through entrepreneurial endeavors.

Earning Commissions

Chores are something everyone in the family does to contribute to the family.  Chores not only teach responsibility but are part of being needed and valued by the family.

Developing Entrepreneurs

Being a young entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to think of a new idea to make money. It just means you need to find a way to make money doing something you love. You have to think out of the box a little.
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College Savings

In addition to encouraging our kids to save their own money for college, we also set aside a percentage of our income into their college savings plans. Two smart ways to save for your kids’ college are 529 college savings funds or ESAs (Education Savings Accounts). These are both tax-advantaged savings vehicles that let you save money for your kids’ education expenses.

My daughter Geneva will be entering high school this fall, so college is something we have been talking about more regularly. Her dad and I set up a 529 college savings fund for her when she was just an infant and we’ve been adding to it gradually every year. In addition to her own savings, she has begun keep a list of potential scholarships for which she will be eligible.

I’m happy that together we have some savings earmarked for her higher education, but of course, it’s not enough. We know we will have to supplement by paying out of our earnings and hoping for scholarships. Our ultimate goal is to NOT take out student loans and we are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make this happen.

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October 9, 2015

My parents were in many ways great role models. In addition to hard work, my parents instilled within me the drive to seek out creative ways to earn money.

You might also be interested in my earlier posts, Lessons Learned from My Mother & Lessons Learned from My Father

When I was a little girl, my two younger brothers and I would periodically set up a lemonade and craft booth in front of our house. We lived in a small coastal community and our home was on a main street through town. The majority of our customers were tourists and I remember fondly, when one group of young cyclists offered to pay us with Canadian money – we were overjoyed! Their money was so different from our own!

We never made a lot of money but it was a fun way to pass the leisurely hours of the summer. The money we did earn we split evenly between the three of us and generally spent it on candy at Wilson’s Market up the hill.

Last week I spoke about how teens can earn commissions doing work around the house. Today, I wanted to share with you ideas for developing entrepreneurs.

Creative Entrepreneurs

Being a young entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to think of a new idea to make money. It just means you need to find a way to make money doing something you love. You have to think out of the box a little.

You’re never too young to develop your talents and, in turn, make money from your skills. ~ Dave Ramsey

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.net
Jeffrey is shown here constructing several Mason Bee Nesting Boxes. He was very successful at the Earth Day festival, selling his entire inventory.

At a local Earth Day fair earlier this year, the kids set up a booth to share with the community the efforts we had undertaken as part of our Roots & Shoots club. In addition to showcasing the projects we had undertaken (primarily our Bottle Cap Mural still underway), each of the kids developed a product that demonstrated their knowledge of and passion for the environment.

The previous year, our club had created Insect Hotels. Jeffrey shared that he had really enjoyed this project and wanted to make a difference for pollinators like the Mason Bee. He thereby reached out to his papa one weekend when we were visiting to procure the wood he would need to make a half dozen nesting boxes. He brought the cut pieces home and began to construct the boxes. He sanded down the rough edges, nailed the pieces together, and finally filled the interior space with nesting material.

Geneva had borrowed a book from the library some time ago, Terrarium Craft, and was intrigued with both the simplicity and beauty. When we began to plan our booth space for the Earth Day fair, she expressed interest in creating terrariums similar to those she had enjoyed in the book. She thereafter ordered a variety of air plants and a half dozen glass terrariums from wholesale vendors online.

Teaching Our Kids About Money: Developing Entrepreneurs @EvaVarga.net
As an extension of our nature studies, Geneva created several beautiful glass terrariums and was also very successful selling these at the Earth Day festival.

There are thousands of ways to make money doing something you love. As we listened to the book Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze in August, we spent time brainstorming more ideas for each of our kids – ideas that they were both capable of doing and that were of interest to them. Here’s just a few of the services and products that they came up with:

  • Babysitting
  • Pet Care
  • Insect Hotels
  • Terrariums
  • Yard Maintenance
  • Auto Detailing
  • Play Piano at a Dinner Party
  • Baked Goods (cupcakes, cookies, etc.)
  • Wild Organic Herbs
  • Create an iPhone App
  • Upcycle

Many of their ideas require very little startup costs. I am particularly impressed with their creativity. Regardless of what avenue they choose, I encouraged them to use a notebook to keep track of their progress.

After listening to Smart Money Smart Kids and our family brainstorm in early August, Geneva has grabbed onto an idea and has shown remarkable resolve. She won’t allow me to reveal what she is working on but I can share a few of the steps she has taken in pursuit of her new passion.

She set up a binder to keep track of everything including the name and the graphics she has created for her business, a list of products she plans to offer, market research she has done (comparable prices, etc.), materials needed, and of course, expenses.

As part of her market research, she created a survey using Google Docs and spent a morning at a local farmer’s market to poll the community. While she wasn’t able to use an electronic device as planned (no wifi), she sat down later and entered all their responses by hand into the document to create a spreadsheet of her results. As an introvert, I was very impressed that she followed through. I can’t wait to see how far she takes her project!


October 2, 2015

We all need to feel needed and to know that we’re making a contribution — even kids. “But they can’t feel that way if they don’t have chores and make contributions to the family,” states parenting experts Foster Cline and Jim Fay.

We’ve followed the Love & Logic philosophy since the kids were toddlers. While we haven’t always been consistent in all disciplines, the one strategy that really struck a cord with us was in regards to chores.

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.netThere is so much power to an effective chores system. Even the words you use to discuss chores with your child impacts how she perceives the activity and experiences the “lesson”. So, for example, Love & Logic suggests referring to daily “chores” like making the bed, picking up your room, and helping to set the table as “contributions”.

Family Contributions

Contributions are part of being a family, of being valued and needed, and working together to make a household function well. The approach, a simple change in language, considers the family unit and the home in a way that is sure to cultivate a respect and responsibility for these things over the long term.

Chores are something everyone in the family does to contribute to the family.  They are part of being needed and valued by the family.  Chores teach responsibility.

Since they were toddlers, the kids have contributed to the needs of the family. We all do our part to help things run smoothly. Here is a list of their daily responsibilities:

• Keeping up with their schoolwork and completing the assigned tasks each week
• Pet care (daily feeding and cleaning of cages)
• Making their bed and keeping their room orderly / picked up
• Putting their school materials & swim gear put away properly
• Cleaning up after themselves (putting their art materials away when finished with them, for example)
• Helping to carry in groceries and put them away properly
• Clearing their setting and cleaning up after meals
• Keeping their bathroom tidy
• Personal care daily

Their failure to follow through may forfeit their earnings that week. This is not to say there are not roadblocks and pot-holes along the way, but we strive to make improvements individually and as a family.

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.netEarning Commissions

Parents are not just responsible for providing food, clothing, and shelter for their kids. They are also responsible for teaching their kids about life—and life includes handling money.

Guiding your children in the choices they make with money is HUGE! The lessons you teach them as they earn money and learn to spend, save and give will lay an influential foundation for their lives. ~ Dave Ramsey

You can begin to teach kids about money as young as pre-school age; here are 9 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money. Just think about it: if your kids can grasp this money stuff early on, they’ll avoid many of the pitfalls later.

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.net


—> Download the free Earning Commissions printable here! <—


In addition to their contributions or responsibilities to the family, our kids have many opportunities to earn commissions. As they have gotten older, the jobs have increased in time input and difficulty (and thereby also pay a larger commission).

In the infographic above, you can see the variety of ways in which our kids can earn commissions. Pay has been negotiated over the years and is related to the time in which it takes to complete the job. The jobs with an asterisk are required. As such, three of these jobs are assigned to each child every week. The other jobs are optional.

We certainly are not confined by this list. Additional jobs and opportunities arise throughout the course of the year. The kids have even worked on commission for their grandparents undertaking a variety of tasks. Friends of ours have farm animals and responsibilities associated with life on a farm.

How about you? In what ways have your children earned spending money?

Join me next week as I share with you creative ways kids can boost their earning power with entrepreneurial efforts.

September 25, 20151

Patrick and I have always been careful with our finances. Making smart money decisions has not always been easy, however. I had a significant amount of credit card debt in college. When we married, we vowed not to let debt break us. In fact, we even lived with Patrick’s parents for three years as we paid off our college loans!

About a year ago, we started listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts. Hearing couples and families all over the country scream, “I’m debt free!” has been really inspiring. I love his Seven Baby Steps. We’ve been working on steps 4 (savings for retirement) and 5 (college funding) simultaneously for years – even before we knew of Dave Ramsey.

Smart Money Smart Kids: Applying Dave Ramsey Strategies to Our Life @EvaVarga.netWhile we were living in Redding, we were renting so step 6 (paying off house) didn’t really apply to us. Now that we’ve moved back to Oregon and are in the process of buying a home once more, we have made owning our home outright a family priority. Our goal is to pay off our home before the kids begin college full-time. That gives us just 5 years!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be describing how we have applied Dave Ramsey strategies to our life. I begin today with the resources we’ve used getting started. 

Money Smart Kids

Dave Ramsey has written many books on personal finance and budgeting. Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money is the first book written with his daughter, Rachel. In his usual writing style, Dave presents a no nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is guide to raising money-smart kids. His daughter offers story after story of what life was like growing up as Dave Ramsey’s daughter. I just loved her! Her stories give the book humor and soften Dave’s usual dry approach.

We listened to the audio version while traveling to Portland with the kiddos several weeks ago. We have been using many of the strategies he describes such as:

  • Not giving the kids an allowance but expecting them to earn their own money by doing work (Dave calls this “earning a commission”)
  • Expecting them to save and pay for things they want

We’d stop the audio periodically on our trip and talk over the points presented. My son’s ears perked up when he heard of Dave’s 401 plan. When your teenager starts driving and wants his own car, the money the child has saved for this purchase is matched dollar for dollar. In other words, if your teen saves $5,000, then you match them with $5,000, and they can buy a $10,000 car.

My son quickly asked, “Instead of buying a car, would you match the money I save to buy a grand piano?” Absolutely little man. Absolutely.

Our conversations quickly evolved into brainstorming entrepreneurial ideas. “I’m only 10 years old! How can I make money?” Next week, I will share some of the creative ideas we came up with – ways kids can earn money of their own.

Personal Finance Course

Throughout his books and podcasts, Dave recommends his other publications and materials. I was certainly intrigued when I learned of his Foundations in Personal Finance, a high school personal finance course designed specifically for homeschoolers.

Much to my delight, this product was recently available for a significant discount through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. While the offer has now expired, they have invited him to return. You can request a reminder from the co-op when they offer is available again.

Please note, as my kids are only 8th and 6th grades, we aren’t using this material presently. However, we look forward to implementing this curriculum in a few years.

Related Posts:

We Have Enough .. Our Efforts in Frugality

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness

Lessons Learned from my Father