Why I’ve Changed My Mind About Dave Ramsey

I am former Dave Ramsey enthusiast. I fell in love with his plan, or what he calls his “baby steps” towards financial wellness. They’re sound, they work, and they make sense. I’ve read all the books and previously listened to his radio show devotedly.

Even before is February 11th Fox News interview, I recently developed some serious resentment towards him.

Just like an Instagram influencer tells you his or her workout plan will be life-changing, Ramsey tells you his baby steps will do the same. He insinuates his baby steps will fix your marriage and the whole shebang. Speaking from personal experience, it does not work that way.

He invites people on his show to do their “debt free scream.” Most of the time when there is a married couple doing the scream, they rave about how working through the baby steps made their marriage so much stronger.

The irony here is how many times he says on his show “money is always the product of another problem, not THE problem.”

This brings me to the Fox News interview.

Ramsey has so many great principals. However, his fatal flaw that keeps so many people from listening to what he has to say is his habit of overgeneralizing.

In his Fox interview, he says another round stimulus checks won’t fix our economy (well, I think everyone can agree here), but then, as usual, he goes on like he does to most of the people that call his radio show:

He explains that if $600 changes your life, you’re screwed anyway. He says that you either have a career problem, relationship problem, debt problem, mental health problem, or something of the sort. He says things like this on his show all the time. He blames people for being in tight spots, no matter how they ended up there.

I’m a Republican. I work for a conservative think tank. I’m not even sure how I feel about another round of stimulus checks. What I do feel strongly about is someone who is one of the most influential finance personalities in the country saying you’re “screwed” if $600 is a big deal to you.

There’s plenty of times $600 was life changing for me. It didn’t mean I was bad with money. It was my life’s circumstances in that moment. Just to name a few:

  • Being broke in college, while working FIVE jobs.
  • Being a newly single mom with legal fees and medical bills stacked to the kitchen ceiling.

There are many people in the country that have been traumatically impacted by the pandemic. Small businesses are struggling, restaurants are struggling, personal trainers don’t have gyms to train at, plant workers are getting laid off right after being hired … the list goes on.

Ramsey’s insensitive comment has me officially jumping off the Dave train. Here is a list of some of the financial resources I’ve been diving into instead:

Hi, I’m Deon! I grew up in Zachary, Louisiana. I am currently attending Southern University Law Center part-time, where I am also a teaching assistant, with the intention of practicing family law. I work full-time at the East Baton Rouge Law Office of the Public Defender as a secretary. I had my daughter, Evelyn, in the fall of 2018 and am engaged to an amazing, supportive man named Ryan. I love traveling and exploring new places. A plane ticket to anywhere with a rental car waiting for me is a solid vacation. I have a degree in mass communications with a concentration in public relations and a minor in political science from LSU. I have a rescue dog at home and love helping with animal welfare efforts. My daughter’s first word was dog (or ‘gog’). I'm also always looking for ways to join the fight against Louisiana's domestic violence epidemic. I spend the majority of my free time gardening or wandering around our neighborhood with my family.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve never been as conservative as DR but I recently had this official ‘done’ with him moment as well, after hearing these comments and some of his responses on his radio show. I’ve been a big PF junkie and my husband and I are strongly on an early retirement track so you could consider us ‘advanced’ in the Pers. Fin. Arena, but I always respected what Ramsey did for those who weren’t or didn’t love PF like I did. Now I just think he’s toxic and big headed. He’s definitely lost touch of the vision to help people.

    • Thanks for sharing! I’ve also had a lot of moments lately where I’ve realized paying every ounce of debt off instead of investing isn’t always the best route.

      Yes, your goal should be to eliminate your debt, but it’s silly to throw huge chunks of money at your 1.5% interest students loans when you could be investing. I feel like he refuses to recognize these individual situations and just calls anyone an idiot that slightly disagrees with him.

      I’m grateful for his way of gamifying personal finance, also. It got me on the right path! I’m happy to have found more people that are doing the same thing in a more encouraging way.

  2. I agree Dave isn’t as humble as he once was. However, the “if $600 changes your life, you’re screwed anyway” may not always be wrong. Remember, he’s speaking to a particular audience and you might not be “that” audience. I agree he might have been insensitive, depending on 1000 circumstances. You can take his comment as being ridiculous or not. It depends on a lot of things. Here is how he could be right. If a person has not been saving like he should for all his life then $600 is a big figure. If however he has been saving for years, in a responsible way, then $600 probably isn’t a life changing event. It’s about actually living within your means, not someone else’s means. It means not buying things you should not, with your income. This is a hard to handle issue for many. It’s about living by a well thought out budget. Its about not “treating yourself” every day. Thats a view that can break almost anyone. It is easy to say to yourself “everybody buys X” so I have to buy it also. This is not wise thinking in many cases. We all have to decide to save first and live on the rest, whatever that means. Its not wise to let yourself think you have to have what every other person you know has. This will break nearly everyone. If $600 is a life changing amount, he’s saying you (an average “you”) have not been saving, adequately, for far too long. We Americans save pathetically little. We are dooming ourselves by our decisions to buy far too much, while telling ourselves “I just don’t make enough” and blaming our poverty on someone else, it’s someone else’s fault. Take charge of your life. Stop letting every marketing idea rule your decisions. QUIT listening to and reading advertisements! They make you want too much! Just quit taking in the ads!

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