Why I Stopped Following Dave Ramsey

Care to share?

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stopped following Dave RamsayThere are a lot of Dave Ramsey die-hards in the personal finance community. If you’re a huge Ramsey fan, as I once was, I encourage you to read this post with an open mind and consider my key points on their merit. It’s entirely possible that I’m going to ruffle some feathers with this one.

For those of you who are not familiar with Dave Ramsey, he’s the outspoken host of a daily radio show that is syndicated all over the USA, and the author of several books including ‘Financial Peace’ and ‘The Total Money Makeover.’ Dave teaches his 7 step program to financial peace. For reference, the steps are:

1. Save $1000 in an emergency fund
2. Pay off all debts using the snowball method
3. Save 3 to 6 months of expenses in your emergency fund
4. Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement funds
5. Save for kid’s college
6. Pay off your home early
7. Invest and give

I think that this plan, though simplistic, is a good one for some people, including my wife and I when we first started learning about personal finance and budgeting. Most of us can get behind the idea of not carrying debt, saving money, and investing.

However, after having listened to Ramsey’s radio show daily for several months and read a couple of his books, I definitely have some misgivings about his methods. I’m going to share them with you below. Again, these are my own opinions – I’m happy to hear your thoughts in the comments!

He’s rude to his listeners

This is my main point of criticism, he’s just not very nice. I wouldn’t call into the Dave Ramsey show. Why? Because I just can’t stand the way he speaks to people. At times, he speaks to his listeners with shocking disrespect, telling them that their financial decisions are ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid,’ sometimes adding a touch of something that resembles empathy by saying things like ‘I’ve done stupid myself.’

There are certain things that seem to set him off. Car loans, lending money to family and a few others, and I just can’t stand to listen to the way he speaks to his listeners.

Frankly, I find the tone of his entire show to be condescending and rude, and I’m not the only one. Some compassion shows through with certain callers, but the tone of the show for the most part is acerbic and to me, he often sounds angry. His reputation for helping folks get out of debt and put their financial lives on track is undermined by the way in which he speaks to callers on his show.

Add to that regular long-winded political tirades where he disparages former president Obama (I haven’t listened since Donald Trump took office), congress, and anything democrat. Political conversations are of course, important, but I fail to see how this ongoing theme adds anything to a show where listeners are calling in for help with major personal finance issues.

But of course, that’s just me 🙂

His plan is one-size-fits-all

There’s no doubt that Dave Ramsey’s baby steps have helped people get out of debt and start saving money. The plan is simple to follow, and literally anybody can do it.

The thing is, with finance, as with clothing, one size doesn’t ever fit all. For folks with older kids, it might make more sense to save more for kid’s college now and put off paying down some debt until after that’s dealt with. That will depend on how old your kids are, how much debt you’re carrying and at what interest rate and of course, your income.

There’s no allowance in Ramsey’s plan for any scenario other than the 7 baby steps. I think that for those who have no idea how to manage their money and need a complete step-by-step plan, it’s definitely a great one to follow.

That said, the one-size fits all approach just doesn’t work for many people and it’s important to consider your own financial situation and needs before you commit to the 7 baby steps.

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Debt Snowball

Further to my last point, the debt snowball is one completely legitimate way of approaching debt repayment. But it’s not the only way, and frankly, it’s not the most mathematically advantageous way to pay down your debt.

The snowball method is pretty simple, pay down smaller debts first and as you pay them off, take those payments and apply them to the larger balances. The point is to get some quick wins to help you stay motivated and keep at it. It’s effective, but can be expensive if your larger debts are at a higher interest rate.

The snowball method may not be best in situations where your higher balances are also high interest debt. Mathematically, it makes more sense to pay off your higher interest debts first. Being a highly logical person, I tend to want to approach money problems in the way that makes the most sense mathematically.

Credit cards aren’t the problem

Alcohol is dangerous for some people, and credit cards are dangerous for some people. If you have a spending problem, or lack the discipline to pay your card off daily, weekly or monthly, you should definitely not use one.

Credit cards are a tool. They’re an incredibly useful one, but they’re also dangerous. Like a chainsaw, scissors or a motorcycle, credit cards can cause a lot of damage when not used appropriately. Also, studies have shown that people tend to spend more money when they spend on credit – so you definitely need to understand how to use the game if you’re using plastic.

That said, I use credit cards. We have a card that gets us free flights, and another that gives us cash value towards travel purchases. If I am going to buy a $2000 refrigerator, I don’t see the point in using cash or debit when I can put it on my card, and get some points towards something else that I will buy anyways. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Excessive spending is not an issue that I struggle with personally however, so your mileage may vary.

Dave is astronomically wealthy

I don’t think that Dave Ramsey is really in touch with the problems that average people are having right now. According to this site, Dave Ramsey’s net worth is around 55 million dollars, placing him miles and miles outside the financial realm of us regular folks.

Though he went through a financial catastrophe years and years ago, Mr. Ramsey has since amassed enough wealth that he could stop working tomorrow and still provide for his family for generations to come.

He has been incredibly successful in his business, and that’s great for him. That said, Dave hasn’t needed anything for a very long time and I would argue that he’s out of touch with the issues that average people face day to day. I believe this comes through in how he speaks to his callers.

It’s easy for him to speak in black and white terms when it comes to financing vehicles, borrowing for college or savings rates. These things haven’t been issues for him for decades. His callers though, are not multi-millionaires. They’re regular, everyday folks who often agonize over decisions such as a car purchase.

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Don’t borrow money for college

I understand his reasoning on this point, but again, I don’t think it’s a black and white issue. If you’re borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to get a 4-year degree in 17th century German art criticism, than yah, maybe don’t do that.

However, if you’ve done your research and are going into a field where there’s good demand and high pay such as nursing, engineering or the like, I don’t see why he advises people not to borrow money as a means to achieve their goals. You can do a lot to minimize the amount of money that you need to borrow. I just don’t see how it’s a black and white issue.

For many, post-secondary education is the best investment they will ever make. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that anybody not go to college simply because they’re afraid to borrow. It doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing issue. Why not aim to pay for 50 or 60% of your schooling up front, work part time and minimize the amount you have to borrow?

Buying a house

If you’re not familiar with Ramsey’s advice with regards to purchasing a home, his first recommendation is to pay cash up front. So since there’s basically none of us who can do that, let’s move on to his next preferred method – put 10-20% as a down payment and a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage.

This may have been well and good in the 80s, but homes in many areas are just too expensive for a 15 year mortgage. Should a millennial really hold off on purchasing a home for years because they can not put 20% down or make do with a 15 year mortgage? I don’t think so. With the market here in Western Canada rising as rapidly as it has over the last decade, it would be impossible to out-save the increase in real-estate values.

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Please understand that while there’s some criticism here, I’m not trying to hate on Dave Ramsey. I’ve heard many callers in to his show attribute their financial successes to his 7 baby step plan – I’m sure there are thousands upon thousands of people out there who would say the same.

In fact, while I’m being honest, his book ‘Total Money Makeover’ is what first got my wife and I interested in personal finance, pushed us to get on a budget and get our financial life in order. Ramsey’s principles are sound, and are a great starting point for you if you’re drowning in debt and don’t know what to do.

I feel however, that Mr. Ramsey’s behavior on his show including consistent disrespect to his callers and on-size-fits-all advice should leave you looking at other sources of financial inspiration.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on Dave Ramsey’s teachings?

Care to share?

109 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Following Dave Ramsey”

  1. Great read!!! I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. Additionally, I believe there are scenarios where the strategic use of debt can be incredibly advantageous. i.e. house and education. Finally really don’t agree with his “all cash” theory. Great example of putting your large purchase on a card that gets miles. Keep up the good work👍🏼

    • I agree also. Today, many credit cards have zero interest for 12 to 18 months so that’s a great way to charge things that you’re going to use every day like gas, food, groceries l, restaurants and then turn around and just pay the bill off at the end of the month with the cash you would’ve bought the stuff with anyway and at the same time, earn free things like points for flying , gas , or cash back. So, essentially, you are making money by taking the cash you planned on buying something with using a card getting an incentive and still using that cash to pay for at the end of the month or immediately after you purchase it by sending it into the credit card company before any interest hits or, in the case of a card with no interest for 18 months.
      I also agree that most of us don’t have that kind of money, that’s what we end up in debt And needing solutions to begin with. I have read reviews from people that have done his plan that said my husband and I managed to path all of our debt and save $60,000 in two years. Who can do that?! Only people with a lot of money that Have mismanaged it to begin with. I am single don’t even make 60,000 gross in two years and I only have one income. So there is no way I can save that kind of money so one size doesn’t fit all. Yes I can make changes and save some and I have done that the past few months and proven it.
      I also agree that the housing market if you have an income like I do and barely have any money to live off of, let alone save, Then there’s no way you could save 10 or 20% down payment without it taking you more years than it would take to buy house and pay it off, especially if you do a 15 year loan. I do agree with getting a 15 year loan. 30 years, the interest is just so much more and with 15 years your payment is only 50 to a couple hundred dollars more than it was to begin with and if you can’t afford that, then you’re buying too much house for your budget.

    • @Ronda

      You can’t compare your budget directly to other people’s/couples budgets. You have a different income and expenses so it doesn’t make any sense for you to be comparing yourself to other. Of course you can’t save $60k in one year when you are making $30k!!!

    • I completely agree with the author. I have read the book, listened to the show, and I think he is very rude, obnoxious, and he may have at some point in his life been in debt, but his out-of-touch approach to dealing with debt and real life issues is unbelievably UN-realistic and archaic. He has this hill-Billy thing happening too….I usually see the positive side of everything, so it’s a positive that he took the step to write a book and made it!

  2. I agree 100% with you! I like to think of Dave as the gateway drug of budgeting 😂. The scared straight approach.

    Honestly some people need the wake up call. I agree his approach isn’t the same one that I would take but like you he got my wife and I on track.

    Now that we are a little more educated we are diverging our path from his. His process works if you follow it but it’s not the only way.

  3. He isn’t for you, I get that. But he has helped millions more than you or I ever will. And he has earned hundreds of millions more than you or I ever will. So I think he will be fine without our blessing. I understand where you are coming from, but until you’ve done something, anything, of lasting value, be careful about criticizing those who have. He has changed many lives for the better, you and me? Not so much.

    • Thanks for reading Steve. You are right that Dave has helped lots of people, as I indicated in the article. The thing is, he’s a public figure, and whether or not he has my blessing isn’t the point. Public figures are subject to more scrutiny than the rest of us, and those who lead many, should be held to a higher standard for their behavior. Do you think that public figures should not be evaluated or criticized?

  4. The baby steps helped us, and I think the general guidelines that Dave preaches are easy for the masses to follow. It’s simple. It’s doable.

    I’ve read all his books and listened to his radio show for years. I still listen – it keeps me motivated to stay out of debt!

    However, if you started saving for retirement later in life, you’re going to have to save a LOT more than the 15% he recommends.

    There are other things about Dave that I don’t like that have nothing to do with money, but my philosophy is “take what works and leave the rest.”

    • Definitely some great points here, thank you for sharing!

      I hope that my first point about his tone doesn’t overshadow the rest of the article. He has done a lot of good for sure. As with most public figures, his style won’t be for everybody.

      I’m thankful for his book The Total Money Makeover as it helped us get started on our financial journey. I think it’s a good thing when you become competent enough to find your own way and don’t necessarily follow the ‘gurus’ any longer. I’m grateful that Dave helped us get to that place.

    • I called one of his financial advisors years ago they could give me no advice on reducing my student loans except to criticize me on my decision which mind you was a result of taking an extra year in college due to my father’s death. I felt like the biggest loser that walked the planet. They had no clue about loan forgiveness which I used to pay my loans. Yes you can be a wake up call but you don’t have to rub people’s mistakes in their face. Thank God for his grace and mercy that helps in all of our errors. They definately need a lesson in humanity and humility. Pride comes before the fall. Now Clark Howard is encouraging but still has a sense of reality.

    • I disagree. Yes Dave can sometimes be rude. But it’s a selling point of the show. A lot of listeners like him because he gives truth plainly and bluntly. It works for a lot of people. A lot of people need to be told that they are being dumb. Of course it doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s why his show is so popular.

  5. Good content. I think it’s important to realize that Dave isn’t a financial guru; he’s a marketer. He has his niche. He acts like a jerk because that’s the demeanor on which he’s built his brand. Much like Kevin O’Leary and… U.S President Donald Trump. They’ve built their iconic personal brands to gather a following. By keeping it simple, Dave has been able to become a household name regarding personal finance. His sermon-like delivery also encourages a following. His financial principles are rudimentary; his marketing is extraordinary. Also, I might be wrong here but isn’t his name spelled “Dave Ramsey”?

    • Great comment Brett, thanks for your thoughts.

      Yes, I had his name spelled incorrectly, I have made the change 🙂

  6. His program works for millions of people.
    Everything in his program is based on his experience and has logic to it.

    The reason for the debt snowball is to gain momentum to keep going-
    it’s not about math, it’s about psychology.

    Feel free to listen or not listen. He’s got 20M listeners.
    I appreciate his no nonsense approach.
    Too many people in our society sugar coat things.
    But, some may be turned off by his candor. To each his own.

    • Hi there, thanks for reading.

      “His program works for millions of people.” – Yep, as I said in the article.

      I understand the point of the debt snowball – my point as indicated in the article is that for those of us who make decisions rooted in logic more than emotion, the snowball method is not the best choice.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I agree Dave can be acerbic, but usually when he chooses to do so it is clear the person in the receiving end needs the shock treatment. Completely disagree with you on credit cards being a tool, school debt being OK, and Dave never says you have to wait for 20% down to buy a house. In the end, Dave always says we are adults and need to make our own decisions. I say the same about listening to him. I still like stem because as a debt free, home owning, Millionaire his approach has worked for me, and as a FPU coordinator for many years, it has helped me help others get out of debt and get in a game plan to win.

    • Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Patrick! Regarding the down payment bit – I didn’t say that he says you “have to wait for 20% down”. What the article says is “his next preferred method – put 10-20% as a down payment and a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage.” This is exactly what he recommends (with 20% being preferred) in several places including on his site here: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-much-house-can-i-afford.

      I’m really glad that you’re committed to helping people get out of debt and win with money. Keep up the good work.

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I share many of your concerns.

    There are numerous reports from former employees that he is a tyrant to work for. A private Facebook group was formed from some of these employees. Apparently, hi somehow infiltrated that group. Here’s a story about it- https://www.thedailybeast.com/spies-cash-and-fear-inside-christian-money-guru-dave-ramseys-social-media-witch-hunt.

    His investment strategy is also just wrong. He advocates for A-share mutual funds and 100% stock allocation (growth, growth and income, aggressive growth and international). That’s crazy for most people.

    In addition to having an upfront sales charge, these funds are among the highest expense funds out there. High expense funds lower returns. No-load funds (like Vanguard) are not a part of the discussion.

    Risk tolerance and objective for the money appear to be secondary issues. A great article from Balance.com details some of this – https://www.thebalance.com/why-dave-ramsey-is-wrong-on-mutual-funds-2466582.

    He often advises that no one should pay advisors. Yet he gets paid $750/mo from advisors who want to be on his platform to get leads. He doesn’t endorse them anymore but sends names of 5 advisors in a local area for investors to interview. See any problems here?

    And you’re right. With a reported net worth of $55 million, it’s hard to believe he has any understanding of what his callers are dealing with in their lives.

    He’s helped a lot of people over the years for sure, especially in getting out of debt. However, the rest of the planning is suspect IMO.

  9. I think it is fine to criticize public figures like Dave Ramsey, it certainly doesn’t hurt his feelings. I think I know why his system is so simple and rigid. I was a lobbyist in the DC realm for a few years and I once asked a leading Tea Party figure why her message was so simple “No new taxes ever!” when the world is more complex than that and maybe replacing a bad old tax with a new smarter one might be the best option. She said “My message is simple because my people are simple.” And she wasn’t insulting ultra-conservatives, she meant that it is hard to rally people around complex ideas that don’t fit into a sound bite. People desperately deep in debt need something to hang on to, and his system apparently does that. I was never in debt and never followed any of Dave’s programs because I was winning with money before I ever heard of him. But I do admire the fact he has changed many lives for the better and I do think part of his success is keeping it mind numbingly simple. Great post by the way, I always try to defend Dave cause he is an old guy like me!

    • Steve – you make some excellent points. I agree 100% that simple, easy-to-follow advice is ideal for those drowning in debt, and there’s no debating that Dave Ramsey has helped many thousands in that situation. I hope that my post didn’t come off as too negative, as I do think he does a great job for his target audience. I’m simply no longer his target audience.

  10. Great article, Mike!

    One thing I DO agree with Dave on is the debt snowball. For his target market, the snowball starting at the lowest balance is great for motivation and actual movement toward becoming debt free. You’re right though. Mathematically it doesn’t make sense sometimes.

    However, in my opinion the name is misleading because you can still use the debt snowball method to roll payments even if you’re starting with the most logical debt first.

    I always recommend the debt snowball method for snowballing payments but don’t always recommend starting with the smallest debt depending on the situation.

    Great points all around in the article! Great read!

  11. Thanks for sharing! I too used to listen to Dave Ramsey and felt lot of his comments would be very judgmental. Because of this, he turned me off and I stopped listening. I did read the Total Money Makeover and implemented a hybrid between the Snowball and Avalanche debt payoff method. I agree with you, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. I encourage people to take bits and pieces from whatever method you think will work for you.

    • Thank you for reading! We all learn different ways and though I’m glad he walked us the first 10% into budgeting/financial stewardship, we have since created our own plan and moved on.

  12. Hi Mike,

    Dave Ramsey has certainly done a lot for people who are struggling with debt. His “tough love” approach seems to work on people. I agree that his investment advice seems a little too good to be true, but I think he’s backing away from some of his comments regarding a 12% guaranteed market return.

    BTW, where do you get a 5% cash back credit card? We’ve got a Scotia VISA and the most we get is 4% for recurring charges, gas, food and pharmacy. We get 1% on everything else. Love to sign up for the 5% cash back.

    • Hi D2R, thanks for commenting. I agree that he’s done a lot of good.

      4% is actually really good, better than ours. I threw that number in as a placeholder and missed it during editing. I have updated that section to be more accurate, sorry about that!

      That said, I was able to find a 5% cash back cards by both Visa and Discover in a quick Google search. Of course they have high interest rates and other restrictions but might be worth checking out.

  13. Great post. I feel the same way about some of the things you mentioned. I also think 15% just isn’t enough if you’re behind on retirement savings. And deep down I like to believe he’s a nice guy but is a little mean sometimes to keep the ratings up. Who knows. Thanks for the article!

  14. Nice post Mike! I’m glad you posted this because I’ve had similar thoughts recently as well. Totally agree that Ramsey’s principles are a great starting place. Just like you and your wife, that’s where I got started as well when my grandpa gave me Total Money Makeover.

    The house strategy though has always rubbed me the wrong way, paying 100% cash is just pie in the sky haha. But I can also tend to be a bit of a contrarion, which might also be why I appreciate this post. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Mike, “Being a highly logical person, I tend to want to approach money problems in the way that makes the most sense mathematically.” This is exactly the audience he is speaking to, amongst others. If a person was highly logical, they would not get into debt in the first place. Debt is not logical, saving and investing it’s logical.

    • Logical people get into debt. I’ve done it, along with many others I know. I guess what I was trying to get across is though I don’t always live every single moment of my life immersed in logic, that is the angle from which I approach problems, such as paying down debt.

      Thank you for reading Todd.

  16. Great read. Being UK I have to tweak his steps to fit me anyway.
    I stopped listening to his show though when some parents wanted their kid to pay into a church. He told them as the kid is under 18 they can take all their money from her. But she had got a job, was working and earning that money herself. That money is hers and to tell the parents she has no rights to that money and they can take it all from her was wrong (that episode has since been deleted from his youtube channel)
    I could sort of understand a little if it was them asking for housekeeping money. But it wasn’t. They wanted the kid to give her money to a church against her will.
    She is working and earning that money and that money is hers. The parents have no right to take that all from her. That would actually be stealing, which I am sure is against the law in the US just as it is in the UK.

  17. Yeah, I agree with you, and I have had very similar thoughts. It makes me cringe when he says “dumb” and “stupid.” It frustrates me when he tells people who are tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to tithe. I’ve found much better advice online from moms on YouTube. Also, student loans have several payback options and public service forgiveness stipulations that I’ve never heard him or Suze Orman discuss (although, I may have missed it). I don’t know anyone with a degree beyond a B.A., such as an M.D./Ph.D./J.D., who has NOT taken out student loans.

    • There are ways to get advanced degrees with no debt. Our son graduated last year with a PhD in food science with no debt. He was able to get a fellowship from the USDA that paid his tuition and provided a living stipend. The USDA has a program for Agriculture fields that don’t have a lot of advanced degrees, including food science. The program works to educate our next generation of research scientists and college professors. Our son got a good job with a major company and he works on infant formula for babies who have special dietary needs. I think it is important work for an underserved population who maybe can’t be breast fed. Our family is grateful to the taxpayers of the US who help fund the USDA program.

  18. Came here to read your article after seeing on Twitter that Dave blocked you. 🙂

    I’ve never followed Dave Ramsey but I can see the appeal. Personal finance is overwhelming for a lot of people, so often people starting out trying to get their finances on track need something very prescriptive. And because the advice is very specific it’s easier to teach (via FPU) and to follow.

    It seems like several people in the personal finance community have started with Dave and then outgrew his program when it no longer fit their needs.

  19. Ah nice post Mike. Not as controversial as I thought it would be!

    And I’ve never read a single Ramsey book or listened to a single show of his. Ever 😉

    All I know is what I read in PF blog posts, so I don’t plan to venture into his world anytime soon lol.

    • Thanks Pete. I think what makes it controversial is that much of the PF community follows Dave and doesn’t like to hear anything negative about him. I thought it would be an incredibly unpopular opinion in that regard but many have come out of the woodwork to voice their agreement.

  20. Love this post Mike! Dave Ramsey is a big reason we got into budgeting and turning our finances around. We used the debt snowball method and even though the math doesn’t always make sense, the fact that we were making progress helped us keep going.

    I actually stopped reading his stuff a few years ago when I felt like his message wasn’t for us anymore. We were paying off debt and had good financial principles in place so we moved on to read from people that made more sense for our situation.

    It’s always good to reflect on the people you’re learning from to see if they’re still leading you where you want to be.

    Great stuff!

  21. Nice read, Mike.

    I understand why he says the things he says, but completely agree that he is a little intolerant of those who don’t buy in 100% to his system, and he gets pretty cantankerous pretty easily.

    Great points here!

    Jeff

  22. These are all great points, but the jerk factor is really why I have a hard time recommending Dave Ramsey to people, even though I think his basic advice does have merit for those struggling to claw themselves out of debt. And yes, credit cards are great, if you know how to use them correctly (same goes for leveraging money to buy a home, finance investments).

  23. Regarding: “Add to that regular long-winded political tirades where he disparages former president Obama (I haven’t listened since Trump took office), congress, and anything democrat. Political conversations are of course, important, but I fail to see how this ongoing theme adds anything to a show where listeners are calling in for help with major financial issues.”

    I think commenting on Obama’s policies were perfectly valid and more important for the “everyday folks” than people who are “astronomically wealthy.” If policies like Obamacare are enacted, people like Dave Ramsey can easily pay the $1500 per month insurance premiums and still have enough income to invest and build wealth. The average middle-class family only has a few hundred dollars in free cash. Add on a required monthly premium, and they are trapped right where they are. There is no reason to teach people to pay off debt if they have no free cash flow to use against that debt.

    • “I think commenting on Obama’s policies were perfectly valid”

      Fair enough – but I’ve never heard anything political on Ramsey’s show that could qualify as simply ‘commenting’. He rants, and his rants are full of bias and causes people like me to just tune it out.

      I think if he made his arguments as well as you just did, the show would have much more credibility.

  24. I still believe you can pay cash for college. Community college is so under utilised in our society and it cuts expenses in half. So you can save and work your way through school if you use the tools available.
    Good point on credit cards. I love travel points!

    • Unfortunately college occurs for most at a time in life when they’re least prepared to make those wise long-term financial decisions. Thank you for reading Josh!

  25. I have to say that I love Dave Ramsey and listening to his podcast.

    He totally comes off as abrasive a lot of the time. I think he’s passionate and knows what works so just doesn’t have time for anything else.

    I call it no nonsense vs rude, but I can see how it’s a fine line.

    I know a few people with similar personalities to his and they all are very intense, speak without thought of tone or approach and come off as rude or uncaring despite their deep care to help others.

    Sometimes we need that kick in the butt uncoddled approach to get us moving.

    I also like listening to him because I feel like I have the exact opposite personality and can lean towards enabling. His show has helped change some of my thinking of how to help someone in a dire financial situation and also my attitude towards building wealth.

    He’s definitely imperfect and I think that’s part of the appeal.

    The simplicity of the baby steps help paralysis of analysis. People will get all hung up on which interest is smallest and then distracted trying to move debts around to better interest rates all while not really doing anything.

    Following the baby steps takes out the brain work and options and just gets you moving which in the end will get you out of debt faster regardless of the interest you pay.

    I get all your points and I appreciate the article. I will also continue to listen to Dave and his rants (whether I’m in full agreement or not).

  26. I love this post. When I was a teenager, all his teachings seemed perfect. However, over time, I realized many of the same things you mentioned and have since followed different financial routes.

    I was recently listening to a podcast (I believe it was ChooseFI) and they spoke about Ramsey’s Baby Steps. One thing came up that I had never thought of before.

    Ramsey often mentions that if you want to live like him (be wealthy) you need to follow his Baby Steps. However, one person argued that if you want to live like him, you need to follow his “actions” instead. To become wealthy like him, you need to find an untapped portion of the market where you can use your skills to help millions of people.

    That really struck me. He’s a businessperson. He’s running a business. He found a way to help others out and make money while doing it. THAT is the way to truly live how he lives.

    That POV gave me an appreciation for him as a business owner. He has a good model that we should all consider if we want to own businesses.

    Will that make me follow his program? No.

    • Great thoughts Eryn!

      Somebody mentioned earlier in the comments that Dave is a marketer, and that’s truly what he does. His business helps tons of his target customers get their money under control, but it would be disingenuous for him to suggest that following his baby steps are going to get you to where he is financially.

      He’s a great businessman and marketer, I certainly wouldn’t debate that.

  27. You are spot on. Just because he is successful and may have helped many more people than you and I doesn’t mean that he should not be questioned. You did it respectfully and accurately.

    The way he treats his caller and his employees Is despicable. I don’t care how successful someone is or how many people they have helped that is unacceptable

    Great article and well done. Yes, credit cards can be a great tool

  28. I couldn’t agree more with your points. In fact, a lot of this echoes content I have written myself.

    In particular, the fact that credit cards can be a powerful tool (in a good way of course). And the fact that one size definitely does not fit all.

    I agree that Dave’s philosophy has merit for those who have serious financial issues and need to get them under control. But there is definitely a LADR (life after Dave Ramsey).

    And that life is, to be honest, where I would rather be.

  29. Thanks for posting your two cents on Dave Ramsey. It was interesting to read. When it comes to finances I think everyone needs to do as much of their own research as they can and move forward in the way that suits them best. For those unwilling to do that, following Dave Ramsey’s advice, at least, won’t ruin them, right?

  30. Interesting reading! My husband and I got into the growing culture of grandparents raising grandkids. The plans I had for our future no longer can be accomplished. I lost my very comfortable income 3 years ago when the oil prices dropped. Due to age, I am not overly marketable. Don’t see any of these circumstances in Mr Ramseys fix-it program.

    • Thank you for reading Gale. Your situation is pretty unique – you should definitely consult with a trusted financial professional.

    • Your comment makes no sense.

      This is an opinion piece. The title of the article is ‘Why I Stopped Following Dave Ramsey’, not ‘Why Dave Ramsey’s System Sucks.’

  31. I get some of your points. There is nothing more uplifting than to hear a couple call in to Dave’s show and sing: ” We’re debt free!” You have made some great observations. Like you, I do use credit cards, but pay them off monthly. If Dave’s guidelines help people get on the program to do their shout, it’s terrific. That’s better than burying themselves in debt. Our nation could certainly use some financial advice after watching our National debt grow to nearly $22 trillion.

    • Thanks for reading Jim. I agree about the debt free call-ins. Hands-down the best part of the show in my opinion.

  32. Yes, Dave Ramsey can be harsh, but I’ve also seen him give out his books for free and offer advice without any money from the callers.

    I personally would follow advice from someone who is wealthy, otherwise there’s either something wrong with their advice or they aren’t putting their words into action. I think it was Dave who said, “never trust a broke finance professor” or something like that. Makes complete sense to me.

    It seems that Dave puts out a guideline you can follow completely or customize it to you. It doesn’t mean he’s completely wrong.

    • Thanks for reading. I don’t think that Dave is “completely wrong”, I just chose to stop actively following his system.

  33. Very good read. Agree completely!! I’m glad that I started my budget by getting on the Dave train. However, I have now adjusted it accordingly to fit our needs. If only my net worth was 55 million 🤪

  34. This was a great read, and it helped confirm my gut feelings towards Ramsey’s methods. I followed him for a while and it was recently I heard him bash a caller about credit cards and basically said “if anyone is still thinking credit cards are good you’re dumb and stupid.” That didn’t sit well with me for one, why do you think it’s ok to talk to people who obviously look up to you like that? And second, he’s wrong about credit. I believe that credit, like money is a great servant but a horrible master. So like you said credit cards are like a tool when used the correct way. Problem is most don’t understand how important it is to keep the balances below 20% of the limit.
    But when you started off by saying he’s a jerk, lol I was like he certainly is! I thought it was just me. Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks for reading Louis!

      I had some criticism initially about how I accused him of being a jerk but at the end of the day, that’s how he sounds to me, not always, but often enough.

  35. When it comes to an emergency fund, my thoughts are to fund a Roth IRA first. If you can do both that’s great, but if you have to choose between funding the emergency fund vs your IRA, choose the Roth IRA. After the year goes by you will never have a chance to invest in your IRA for that year again, and if you have an emergency you can all ways take out your initial contribution with no penalties. Just my opinion. Mike

  36. I like your feedback and you’re entitled to have it. I think Dave Ramsey has addressed most of the criticisms you provided in this post. Dave is aware the Debt Snowball is not mathematically the solution to paying the least down but there’s a psychological/behavioral motive that weighs in and that’s a fair point. Dave is not a fan of credit cards even when you immediately pay them off to get rewards because of the risk of an urgent something getting in the way of using your cash to pay off the charges, a real inherent risk in a population with unpredictable life curves. Also a fair point. I have only one place where I may be at odds with Ramsey and it’s on those with large student loan debt, a very tight budget, and a company dollar for dollar matching 401k up to 6%. Dave says stop contributing to 401k until Baby step 4. My logic tells me in this case, not contributing up to the top match in 401k for more than 12 months, if the debt snowball can’t be done in very quick time, here is where Dave and I might not agree. Hope this helps.

  37. I agree tht Dave is rude. I would be intimidated to call him because I don’t want to be put down by someone I am calling for advice. He is incredibly condescending. Yes he has helped people. However, I did try to get advice more than once and was never able to get through. After listening to him awhile, I realized I didn’t want to speak to im because of his rudeness.

  38. Just read your article. Completely disagree with your points. You are using examples of the few to justify the majority. The majority of people will not pay off credit cards every month, or pay off school loans. Your advice is great for the average middle class person. It just simply is not what wealthy people do. You also create a false premise by stating that Dave Ramsey is out of touch with the average American because he is now wealthy. That argument is a common logical fallacy. I think your advice is really uninformed and should not be taken seriously by people that truly want to be wealthy. Lastly, wealth is not just about logic as you infer with the debt payment suggestion. The purpose of using the debt snowball method is to create emotional wins that builds confidence.

    • Hi there, thanks for reading.

      I’m not going to reply to each of your points as I’ve done a good job of explaining my position in the article. That said, I will challenge you to consider that the title of this article is “Why I Stopped Following Dave Ramsey”, not ‘Why You Should Stop Following Dave Ramsey’. See the difference? This isn’t prescriptive and I’m certainly not suggesting that nobody would do well following his advice, it’s just not for me.
      Cheers.

  39. Totally agree with you on many points! I was fortunate enough to have scholarships that paid for all my education, but if I chose to go back for an advanced degree, I would have to utilize student loans. However I think you make an excellent point about weighing the cost against the increase in income and career satisfaction. Especially in the case of expensive degrees that no one can afford. We would certainly not have any doctors if everybody followed Dave’s approach! Who could pay for med school out of pocket??

    As for the house, I bought my fist house as a single girl. Got a fantastic deal on financing, with no down payment, seller paid closing costs, and an interest rate that was a 20-year low. My monthly payment for everything (including taxes and insurance) was under $600. Had I listened to Dave’s advice, I wouldn’t be able to buy for several years (if ever!). As it is, I’m accumulating equity while paying less per month than I’d pay on rent. Once I get to the point where I’d have enough saved to follow his recommendations, I’ll already have a good bit of equity. Even more so bc I purchased the house for $20k less than it was worth.

    To each his or her own but I’m glad to see you point out areas that Dave’s advice might not be most useful. He has definitely helped a lot of ppl but I hate to see ppl put off (or ignore) goals just bc if his advice. Especially when there’s a responsible way to attain them! Thanks for sharing ipir opinion!

    (Btw to anybody who is ticked off telling you that if you don’t like Dave’s advice you don’t have to listen… tell them if they don’t like yours they don’t have to keep reading! Lol)

    • Wow Megan, it sounds like you’ve been incredibly successful making good decisions while ignoring the ‘guru’ advice. What area are you in? I’m curious where you got such a great deal on a home/mortgage!

      Thank’s for the encouragement 🙂

  40. I actually like the way Dave talks to his callers. He is sometimes a little harsh but I find it funny since I can relate to a lot of it and I know his intentions are good. A lot of people now days especially on the radio are not so direct and to the point like Dave so I appreciate that and it’s one of the reasons I keep listening.

    • That’s a fair point. I can see how the ‘tell it like it is’ thing would be appealing to some. Thanks for reading Drew 🙂

  41. Thank you Mike. After reading this, I feel a little more validated. I thought it was just me for a long time. Maybe I was too sensitive. I found that I often agreed with most but not all of the financial advice DR dishes out. First of all, life just is not that black and white. There are times that I wish that it were. It would be far easier to make good sound financial choices for 99% of us. Secondly, his presentation. He is so angry, hostile and simply condescending. On one occasion several years ago, I was listening to him drone on and asking myself why the hell am I listening to this jerk. I became extremely offended when I listened to him belittle and basically abuse this poor woman who was essentially caring for an adult disabled child who was on SSI and wanted to claim them as a dependent on taxes (which is legal btw) and he basically told her she was trying to live off the government and that the government was already supporting her disabled child, why should they send her more money. I guess he has never had to support an adult disabled child on SSI while making a middle income salary. He’s a millionaire now and doesn’t really seem to be in touch with real life people anymore and sometimes he simply gives inaccurate and bad advice like the above mentioned example. I have an adult child with Autism. So yes, I know a lot about the subject of taxes and SSI etc. It was that particular call that really did it for me. I can’t stand the guy anymore. And I really hate the fact that he mixes in religion when he is being so flat out hateful towards people. Maybe if he truly walked with the prince of peace aka Jesus, he would truly understand His love, kindness and mercy Jesus would not talk to people the way this man does. If he is going to mix religion in, then perhaps he should take a refresher course on who this prince of peace really was. I honestly think DR is just another fake Christian spewing out his judgmental venom and making the real Christians look really bad. Then he throws in a dash of ultra conservative bile to make it all the more bitter.
    I’ll stick to Clark Howard. And your blog and others like it. Thank you for sharing.

  42. I agree! I think Dave can be unrealistic at times in order to sell his products. Yes the system can work, but not everyone will end up becoming a millionaire. I stopped listening to him when I heard him tell a a man who wanted to be a public school teacher that he shouldn’t become a teacher because he won’t be able to make a good living. If we told that to everyone, there would be no teachers. Probably half of Dave Ramsey’s staff makes equivalent to a teacher. And statistics show that only 22% of people in the US will become millionaires. My dad was disciplined and worked 50-60 hours a week a majority of his life, but due to illness of him and his wife, will never become a millionaire. Dave Ramsey gives a lot of false hope.

  43. Ramsey is actually far wealthier than you even realize. Over the past year, he has disclosed during calls that his net worth actually exceeds $100 million.

  44. I like listening to Dave Ramsey on YouTube but I follow it with a grain of salt. While he does offer a more one size fits all approach to helping people with their finances, he also does state that personal finance is 90% behavior and habits of people. My approach is education and encouraging people to build financial awareness. That’s what’s worked for me.

  45. I only read his newspaper column. From time to time I have noted a condescending air in his answers but today’s column took the cake. He told readers if they cannot afford a 15 year mortgage, then they cannot afford a home period. That’s absurd. So, throwing your money away on rent is better than a 30 year mortgage? He apparently has no idea how tight budgets are for most working class families. He then goes on to chide his readers that the “average millionaire” pays off their home in 10.2 years and we should all do what smart people do. I expect we would if we were millionaires too.

    • First of all I’m not a supporter or promoter for Ramsey. But why would you write a piece about what’s wrong with his thoughts in your opinion, if this was not a piece against him. Why do you have to justify your choice not to do something, just don’t use it. But only if you seeking people to join in on your opinions. If you really not campaigning against him, then tell me what’s wrong with your system.

    • Because this is my blog, and is quite literally, the place for my opinion. People come here to read my thoughts on personal finance and these are my thoughts on Dave Ramsey, a titan in the personal finance space.

  46. Good read :). I’ve never understood Dave’s plan for house buying either. My ex husband and I started Dave’s plan in 2016 and we failed miserably. However, the home buying part never made sense to me. In Illinois most houses you can rent are more than mortgage payments. I’m now a single mother of 3 and I’m sinking further into debt just trying to pay rent. I did own a home before I married my soon to be ex and the monthly payments were considerably less than rent.

  47. I feel the same way about Dave Ramsey’s methods. It’s hard to save money and pay off debt when you don’t have any extra money and he doesn’t give any concession for people that are in that situation. I however do feel that the Democrats are not working in my best interest and Obama just made things harder for the self employed and the people that don’t fall into the on welfare category. You had my respect up until that point.

    • Hi Angi, thanks for reading.

      This isn’t a political piece, that’s the entire point. By making personal finance into a political issue on the radio, he’s alienating half of his potential audience.

      If that opinion is enough to make you lose respect for a person, I’d like to invite you to not come back 🙂

  48. I believe Dave Ramsay has valid concerns regarding American infatuation with credit cards and debt. However, I also agree with the notion that credit cards are a tool and smart American will use these tools to his or her own advantage. For example: Why should I pay cash for household expenses when I can keep my cash in my savings account for a month where it earns a small interest, pay monthly expenses with a credit card and enjoy a 2% monthly return (reward) on my previous month’s expenses when I pay them off the following month? In such a case, the credit card becomes a tool which helps one earn a 24% annual return on common living expenses.
    I also find Dave’s political comments irrelevant to the topic, which is finance and investment. There have been 12 VERY different American Presidents in my lifetime and in that time the mechanics involved with debt, financial management, investment and wealth building have remained basically the same. Politics move with the many markets, but they seldom move the many markets for any length of time. Dave’s political rants add nothing to the topic.
    I guess like anything else: With Dave Ramsay, one must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. That being said, thanks for sharing your perspectives. A completely worthwhile read.

  49. Great read..I agree I don’t like him because I think he is rude to his callers and sounds arrogant. Money matters on the Christian radio are much nicer in their answers to people.

  50. I also think he’s rude..and arrogant to his callers. I also agree that his plan is a one size fits all which is not right for everyone’s situation. Money Matters on Christian radio is a better program.

  51. I believe Dave R. has a valid point on credit card debt & I understand there are people who do not have the discipline to handle plastic. Remember, Dave is a Christian & conservative. His views on politics are part of that, just like the other side readily gives their opinion. Many of his principles are derived from scripture & lessons he has learned the hard way. I think he is rude to some people, but his message needs to be heard by whiney people who tend to make mistakes over & over and are getting themselves into financial trouble. As for loaning to family & friends..it never ends well. I found that out and no longer do it. I took his advice on not going into debt for my child’s college ed. & am ever grateful. I believe his advice is very sound for the most part. I’m a fan, but also use my own mind to make decisions. If you don’t like him, don’t listen.

  52. I agree with your opinions. After doing Financial Peace University years ago, I was kind of die-hard about Dave Ramsey’s teachings—until one by one I started realizing there were things that were wrong, most of all calling people stupid like you pointed out but other things too. For example, I am kind of late to the game in building credit now because I took his advice to heart to have NO credit score. He says instead of using your credit score to pay for things in cash or use “manual underwriting” which probably not many places do and would drastically limit my options.

    I also like how you pointed out that he is out of touch with what people need who have less than millions of dollars. Of course it’s nice to pay for emergencies with cash instead of credit, but my husband and I found ourselves in a pinch lately and if there’s not cash there—what do you do? Dave’s solution is to…have cash there. We would have if we could have! When we do have cash I like paying on the credit card and immediately paying it off but Dave thinks that no one has the self control to not overspend—because he doesn’t so no one does. Also, he has said to save up for basics like a washer/dryer—but sometimes you need the basic necessities now.

    Additionally, I wanted to point out that his money all comes from people taking his financial advice. That’s fine and all, but what would he do for a living if he didn’t make a living off telling people they’re dumb? Not sure he’d be able to make it.

    Thank you for your article, your points were valid. A lot of what Dave Ramsey says would be great in theory, especially in the 80s and 90s, but he can be out of touch nowadays and it’s really not okay to be so rude to people who are doing the best they can in the real world.

  53. I heard him talk down to a couple of people today. The callers seem like people who have done a good job of saving already and want a challenge – to see if they can stand up to his criticism. Dave reminds me of an old professor who is just tired of newbies and tired of teaching. I think he truly only enjoys the callers who already know the subject material. Dave explained today that people who have more money are better people with better values – many rich people think this… it just doesn’t happen to necessarily be true. I loved his info ten years ago. He seems mean now – I wonder if his priorities are in order and if his children respect him.

  54. This post is refreshing. I think he has a lot of good advice (although I do think some of his principles are directed at a younger group with no apparent unexpected life curveballs). I simply cannot stand his tone and how he speaks to people. I don’t care how successful he is… he is a nasty arrogant person in my opinion. One time I heard him say on his show “I’m so rich *insert Vincent Price laugh here*.” I cannot and will not listen to him any more. Even when reading his stuff, I hear his nasty voice and condescending tone.

  55. Awesome read! I too use the 7 Baby Steps to help kick start my debt payoff, but have recently been turned off by his rudeness to callers. The worst part if it all is he quotes the Bible and Christ, but shows no compassion or kindness.

  56. The other day I was listening to Dave Ramsey and a caller asked about a 24 month 0% interest rate card she thought would give her the ability to pay off her loan in a timely fashion and would work with her budget and within her means. Ramsey almost took her head off and told her she just needed to sell, I believe it was her car or something to pay her debt and get a cheaper vehicle. Quite frankly, there have been times when a 0% interest rate has been invaluable to me. I have been able to budget using them and paying off my debt within the time frame of the debt. I still don’t see the harm in this. I had been curious about how Ramsey would respond to a 0% rate and after I heard him to respond to the aforementioned caller, I was turned off by his illogic. When people have limited income and can’t afford to sell their car or household belongings, I find that this form of budgeting is totally acceptable and costs the borrower zero.

    • I agree with you on this Patty. Everybody’s needs are different. DR doesn’t seem to feel that people should move on from his plan. Having been in this space for a few years now, I’ve met lots of people who started with his program and then move away from it as they become more financially competent. There are many ways to manage money.

  57. One thing I never hear mentioned is that he didn’t use his own advice to get rich. He declared bankruptcy and then marketed some basic finance rules.

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