Problem #59: Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?
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If you’ve never heard of him, this is a PROBLEM that we need to discuss.
So who is Dave Ramsey? He’s a personal finance guru that has made millions through best-selling books and a syndicated radio show – among other things. He became famous because of his stance on credit cards, and his spectacle of cutting them up.
But he’s a polarizing figure in the personal finance world to say the least. That is to say, you either love him or hate him. There is no middle ground. Or the middle ground is so tiny that you would be uncomfortable standing there for any length of time. Kinda like a balance beam of “I don’t want to offend anyone.”
People say things like, “Oh, he’s great if you don’t know what you’re doing.” Or, with an eye-roll, “He does help people get out of debt.” And my personal favorite, “His credit card advice is sooo dangerous.”
Whaaaat? Someone punch me in the face! I can’t take it anymore.
What is sooo dangerous about taking a little card that has the potential to ruin your life, and has ruined many lives already, and getting rid of it? Why wouldn’t you eliminate the risk of possibly paying 25% interest if you could?
Ok . . . I’m calmer now. This post wasn’t supposed to be about credit cards. -facepalm
On one hand it’s hard to discount the 3rd most popular syndicated radio show, the multi-million dollar net worth, and the rampant success. But on the other, his jokes are funny . . . once, and some get turned off by the fact that he’s a Christian. But I actually love that about him.
I’m a Big Fan of Uncle Dave.
Just so you know where I stand, I love Dave. I love listening to his show, and I’ve read some, not all, of his books. And my kids like him too. Why just the other day, they were helping me re-model our second bathroom. They were pulling up old vinyl stick-on tiles off the concrete floor.
Just a note: If you want a floor that is easy to remove later and looks horrible at the same time, use 1990’s era vinyl tiles.
Anyway, while they were working hard pulling off those hideous squares, my Dad dropped by to show us his new ride (paid for in cash BTW – way to go Pop). He opened the front door, and was greeted by two enthusiastic boys, “Hi Pop, we’re working and listening to Dave Ramsey.”
We love the debt-free screams. More accurately, we love the stories of people who have succeeded in pulling themselves out of the holes they dug themselves. Cause actually, some of those screams are weak, let’s be honest here. Some of you folks who debt-free screamed need to learn how to let loose. Be a maniac! You just destroyed your debt, and the best you can muster is a timid, “We’re debt free.”
Anyway, I think there are a few reasons personal finance “people” waver when it comes to Dave Ramsey.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s not really his material. It’s basic personal finance principles. Which we are already preaching. Things like debt is dumb, and cash is king. Live on much less than you make. And save for an emergency and the future. Those four sentences make up 95% of what it takes to win with money.
Sure, you can elaborate on those principles. I wouldn’t have a blog otherwise. But that’s it, that’s what he preaches. And that’s what the bloggers (myself included) preach also.
And you don’t have to copy his methods to be successful. That’s why there are so many great personal finance blogs out there. Just check Modest Money’s and Rockstar Finance’s lists of finance blogs. We all say similar things differently. We add our own experiences in with the advice and money truths. That’s what makes it relatable and real.
Dave does the same thing. But he has a unique story. He tells about when he was wealthy and lost it all. And when things were bad, and how he turned it around. He was a millionaire and lost it all, and now he’s a multi-millionaire. I don’t know many others who have that type of real-life experience with which to draw from.
Wealthy People only Take Advantage of the “Little Man”.
There seems to be a stigma out there that anyone who is wealthy (think: many millions) is somehow evil, and that they cheated many people to win. That stigma surrounds the 1%. To me this is just old-fashioned jealousy.
Maybe it comes from Mr. Potter’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life. He seems to be the quintessential rich real estate mogul. Doing whatever is necessary to make a buck.
But any success seems to always breed haters. And those who think that the only way to wealth is to lie, cheat, and steal. That is exactly why those people will never be wealthy. They lie and steal, and wonder why it’s not working for them. Then they get angry when others have success.
Dave Ramsey is the brunt of much of this hate and vitriol. As are many other wealthy public figures. But they actually do more to help others than most. Check out this list of the top 50 givers in the US.
Dave is always preaching to “live like no one else, so later you can live, and Give like no one else.” Giving is a huge part of his money philosophy. So, before you criticize him for having so much money, ask yourself how much have you given recently?
So when it comes to Dave, I’ll take the good (debt-free, use cash, no credit cards) with the not-so-bad (corny jokes).
You could do a lot worse with money than what he teaches.
What do you think? Are you a Dave Ramsey fan?
Let me know in the comments, and if you liked this post, please share it.