Dear Dave,
My husband and I are both 50, and we make about $50,000 a year. We have a little bit of debt, and recently my mother-in-law moved in with us due to health issues. Weíve always gotten by, but now weíre struggling with the additional expense of having her with us. We love her, but weíre unsure what to do financially. Do you have any suggestions?
Dear Jen,
Any time things get tight and something like that happens, itís your wake-up call. Itís the phone ringing, so Iím going to tell you to pick up the phone. Itís telling you that youíve been kind of sloppy and disorganized with your finances in the past, but youíve made just enough money to get away with it.
Her moving in tightened things up, and thatís understandable to a point. But it has shone a spotlight on the fact that youíre going to have to start doing a written plan and behaving. Chances are youíre going to have to cut back on some stuff, because youíve chosen to take care of her. This is an honorable choice and a wonderful thing youíre doing, by the way.
With this added responsibility youíve taken on ó and many Americans are facing the same thing ó youíre going to find yourselves on one end of the Sandwich Generation. Theyíre sandwiched between taking care of their parents and taking care of their grown kids. And the way you handle it is with a written budget.
The good news is that with a detailed plan, you can analyze whether you need extra income, if you need to cut some expenses or both. Youíve got to create a little margin to have a clear picture of your future. If you just wander along without a plan, youíre going to make a mess out of this, and itís going to get bad fast.
ó Dave

What percentage?
Dear Dave,
What percentage of your total net worth should your personal residence be during retirement?
Dear Sue,
Honestly, I donít have a set percentage for this kind of thing. The larger your net worth, the smaller the percentage would be. Letís say youíre worth $5 million. In this scenario, you wouldnít want to have 50 percent in your home. But if youíre worth $150,000, youíre probably going to have more than 50 percent in your home.
So, the smaller your net worth is, the larger the percentage your home will likely be. Thatís very reasonable, and itís one way you can look at. If youíre in the million-dollar range of net worth, I donít think Iíd want to have half or more of it in my house.
But I think you see how Iím looking at that. You want to try and have as small a portion as possible, but you also have to have a home thatís suitable for your needs.
ó Dave

Dave Ramsey is Americaís trusted voice on money and business. He has authored five New York Times best-selling books. ďThe Dave Ramsey ShowĒ is heard by more than 8.5 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations. Daveís latest project, EveryDollar, provides a free online budget tool. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at