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Personal Finance

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Inheriting a Business

By Dave Ramsey
Author, The Total Money Makeover – These days it pays to be smart about money. That's why it's important to take this wise counsel from financial expert Dave Ramsey.

Collecting receivables

Dear Dave,

My dad died earlier this year, and as a result my mom and I inherited his auto parts business. He had a lot of accounts receivable piled up, and we need to collect these to keep the business going. We live in a small town, where everyone knows each other. What’s the best way to handle this?

– Susan

Dear Susan,

I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy when a parent or spouse passes away. I’m glad that you and your mom are working together, though. Hopefully, it has helped you two make it through this rough time.

I would make a list of the accounts, and go visit them all personally. Just have a polite, sit-down conversation, where you explain your situation, and ask for their help in getting things current. See if they can take care of the bill today. If not, ask in a nice way if they can pay some of it today, and try to find out when they can pay the remainder.

Make sure you don’t hire an outside person to handle this situation. You and your mom can work the phones and pound the pavement. Most of these accounts are probably local folks, and there’s a good chance some friends and neighbors are in the bunch. You don’t want to be confrontational or unkind, because you will need these people if the business is going to survive.

At the same time, you need to stop running so many accounts receivable going forward. It’s a real pain having those things hanging over your head, and at some point it will become tough just to make a living. Otherwise, if you can’t clear this up and get the business running on a cash basis, you may have to close up shop!


Pay extra on debt with separate check?

Dear Dave,

When paying extra on a car note or mortgage payment is it a good idea to write a separate check?

– Scotty

Dear Scotty,

Absolutely! You can include the extra check in a separate envelope with the regular payment, but make sure you write “principle only” in big, bold letters on the envelope and on the check. Also, include the account number in the notation line at the bottom of the check.

Some companies use payment booklets that have a box specifically for entering any amount you want applied directly to the principle. This method is okay, too. Just make sure you keep a good, solid record of the monthly and overall amount you’ve designated to be applied only to the principle.

Trust me, follow these guidelines and you’ll be much less likely to run into a sticky situation because some bozo threw the check into an escrow account or chalked it up as a pre-paid payment!



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Dave SaysDave Ramsey is a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and author of the New York Times bestselling books, Financial Peace Revisited and The Total Money Makeover. His life-changing advice in the area of personal finance helps people get out of debt, stay out of debt and build wealth that will last a lifetime and beyond.

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