Dave Ramsey critics


Are you a Ramsey fan or critic?

Dave Ramsey seems to attract quite a few critics these days. I have heard him being criticized for everything from being over-simplified to allowing people to use debit cards to buy his products.

It is interesting to me how some people can find anything to criticize. Some people see the world with rose-colored glasses and think everything is perfect and others will never be happy with anything and therefore criticize everything. Most people are somewhere in between. But I guess after it is all said and done, we are all critics in one way or another.

dave ramsey critics

Personally, I like Dave Ramsey. I think he has an excellent program that helps a LOT of people. It is a very basic and simple way of doing things, but it works for most people. I assume that is why he designed it that way. He wanted to help as many people as possible, knowing that he couldn’t please them all.

Experts are often the critics of simple tools and systems. Most times these experts are more advanced than the product they are criticizing and most of the time what they are criticizing was not intended to be used by them.

The iPod and Dave Ramsey

Let’s take Apple as an example. There were dozens of MP3 players on the market before the iPod came out. Apple just took the existing technology and made it so simple and easy to operate that your grandma could use it. They did not seek to satisfy the “techies” who were already using MP3 players. They were going after a market that wouldn’t have bought one unless it was simple.

Dave Ramsey is like the iPod of the financial gurus. While so many of the other financial guys are arguing and debating about trivial issues that are over most people’s heads, Dave was figuring out a way to boil all these financial principles down to a 5th grade level. He succeeded.

Dave’s books and seminars are designed for beginners and not for the people who have mastery over their finances. It is not perfect advice for everyone, but it is great advice for most people and is exactly what millions of people need.

Everyone is a critic

That said, just like all the other Dave Ramsey critics, I don’t agree with everything he preaches, but I think I understand why he says what he says.

  • I haven’t cut up all of my credit cards, but if I were trying to help someone who didn’t have much financial discipline, I would probably suggest cutting them up.
  • Mathematically, paying off the highest interest rate credit cards first would be a better idea. But, I understand the necessity for motivators on the journey to financial freedom. This is why Dave suggests paying off the smallest balances first, regardless of the interest rate. Getting a quick success under your belt is a much needed motivator for most people.
  • I chose to save for retirement WHILE paying off my debt. Dave would suggest not saving for retirement until the debt is paid off. I know that I am not going to quit on the way towards my goal, but for some people knocking out the debt first is probably a good idea.

Although I do some things differently than Dave suggests, I understand why he is doing what he is doing. I am not his target market. Knowing this, I want to help him reach those people who he can help. So, I will just keep applauding him as he ignores the critics and keeps helping people break out of debt.

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43 Comments
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  1. I’m not a critic of the Dave Ramsey plan. I’m certain that it’s one among many plans that can be successful. My main issue is just that though. It’s one among many. I get annoyed by people that claim that Dave’s way is the only way.

    I’m also not a fan of his overt use of religion to colour his advice. It’s just so American, and so quite alien to me, a Brit.

  2. @Plonkee
    I agree that Dave’s way is not the only “way” – as it is said, there are many ways to skin a cat – I think the same can be said about managing your finances…

    and regarding your 2nd comment – He is a Christian and he believes the Bible, therefore he uses scriptures to back up what he is saying. If anything I think it is a sign of humility, because he is basically saying “look, I didn’t come up with this on my own – it has been in the Bible for centuries”

  3. I’ve never watched one of Dave Ramsey’s programs: Why? He’s on Fox. I consider them an evil empire and won’t watch them unless it’s dire circumstances.

    How dire? Last time I watched Fox news it was because one of their correspondents was embedded with my brother’s USMC unit during the start of the Iraq war.

  4. Minimum Wage

    I have a nitpick with Dave Ramsey.

    While you can argue an issue like whether you should tackle debt starting with the lowest balance or the highest interest rate, I see that as a matter of personal preference: while one person might prefer the prychological boost of paying off small debts quickly, another might prefer the faster reduction of total debt by paying off the highest-interest debt first.

    But when he proposes his budget, that budget doesn’t work for a lot of people. He allocates 38 percent of income for housing, and I haven’t found ANYTHING in my area that you can rent for 38 percent of my income.

  5. @bob:
    I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with Ramsey appealing to scripture, it’s just not aimed at me, and it feels very American. There’s nothing wrong with being American either, I happen to be British and I prefer personal finance advice to be more British in style.

    If it works for other people, that’s good for them. As we all know, Dave’s way isn’t the only way.

  6. I am a former employee of Dave Ramsey.

    1. Dave does NOT accept credit cards for products, period!
    2. Dave uses Scripture in two ways. First, in a spiritual way because
    money and finances are all about choices, choices in life are spritual decisions. Second, Dave uses Scripture as a “Time Tested” princples. What other book has 6 thousand years worth of wisdom to share about money?

  7. @Rick
    Just FYI, I am with you – If you couldn’t tell from the post I am quite a fan of Dave Ramsey!!
    but regarding your first point – the reason he has been criticized about accepting credit cards is because technically he does accept them. As mentioned on his website he does accept debit cards and as he states he has no way of knowing whether or not they are credit or debit cards when they process them. He is very adamant about people NOT using credit cards to buy his products, but like I mentioned technically no one would ever know…

    Personally, I understand Dave’s position on the issue and don’t blame him for accepting debit cards, but some critics have said that he is a hypocrite for it -

  8. Acually Bob, by sending a query to Visa/Masercard before the card is charged can return the balance on the account. A positive balance indicates either a checking account, debit card, or loaded credit card (a credit card that was over-paid-off).

  9. @Ryan
    so, just to clarify – you are saying that Dave’s company could check to verify that it was a debit card?

  10. yes

  11. I hate to tell you, but if you cannot find a place based on 38% of your income. The issue is not Dave’s suggestions, its your income. You need to do something to raise the amount of money that you take in per month.

  12. uranium9909

    You want to pay rent that is 38% of your income? I pay less than 13% of my income on my mortgage payment.

    • Your comment is a very good example of being out of touch, like everyone can pay 13% or less even on their mortgage payment or rent, they just do it because they choose to. No brain no pain.

  13. His main tenet is to get out of debt…this is not an American, Lithuanian or British or Korean thing…It’s just the best way to win with money. Get out of debt.

  14. Actually Dave Ramsey DOES accept credit cards via his website.
    If you look under his FAQ, he admits that he is required to accept credit cards, or he is in violation of Visa/Mastercard policies and will not be allowed to even accept debit cards.

    You need to do research people.

  15. Yeah you can get away with using a credit card on his website, but read the disclaimer, they are beyond clear in their opinion of you doing it:

    “* The Lampo Group, Inc. and Dave Ramsey recognize that the Visa and MasterCard virtual monopoly on the debit card industries prohibits merchants from only taking debit cards. As such, it is impossible for us to ensure that every order has complied with our debit card policy. We trust that all of our customers hold EXCEEDINGLY high levels of INTEGRITY and maintain EXTRAORDINARILY high standards of TRUTH and HONESTY. Basically, anyone ordering from us who does not follow this policy is a shady and dishonest character. Don’t put yourself in this group. You’re better than that. Stick to our policy, NO CREDIT CARDS, and make us all happy. “

  16. James nagrocki

    Dave i like your show but can i say one thing that my wife and i dont care to hear.You once in a while rant and rave as a true republican and how our government is lousy,you are entited to say what you want on your own show but many of us arent republicans or any party,why do we have to hear this ,i though you show was to help people of all races religions and partys of the USA,IF you rant and rave as a die-hard republican we have no way to rebut but shut off radio.Do you thing it is proper to mention Obama and his 8 weeks in office,whne i never heard you say a word about any Bush president and geo w Bush signed everything he was put on his desk,I dont wnat to stop listening i love as you help people but as a christian not as a die hard republican .You metioned the market often and tel us to hold in ,its great,but i guees i know you will tell me dont listen if i donnt like all of show but as a christian too, i think you point is to help people on the air ,not preach the republican bible ok ,god bless,jim in texas email if you care too i doubt it .Gor w Bush left us with 1.3 trillion and all republicans blae Obama after 7 weeks od hard work,we all should respect who was elected,he won by 9 million vote ok? again Dave,god bless you and your family i am like you a good family man

  17. Desiree/Florida

    You need to move then….

  18. These PF gurus such as Dave can be likened to diets/excercise gurus. Eat less, excercise more and you are going to be healthier. Most PF gurus are saying spend less, earn more; live with your means, etc.

    I’m a CPA with a minor in economics and we have been following Dave’s plan religiously. Next month we will have a fully funded emergency fund and then back to retirement and college savings.

    My 2 cents worth, if you are going to go on a “diet” follow that experts advice. Choose a guru that has proven success. However, for those personalities that hate to follow instructions you will still benefit by following most advice out there.

  19. I agree with the diet idea. There is the general principle that you learn of spend less than you earn. The diet idea itself is teaching people how to go about spending less than they earn. If he has helped lots of people, then I say he is doing things as best he can. my wife and i used his credit card snowball idea to pay off our credit cards of 5k debt in 2 and a half years. that’s the only part of his program I wanted and it was great for me. I don’t use the rest of it because I’ve got my own diet that I like and works for me.

  20. veryoldman

    I like Dave Ramsey. After many years working and struggling and managing to become financially secure, I found that Dave Ramsey had been preaching for years the methods that I figured out for myself in 30 years of trial and error. I facilitate his FPU training in our church now. I wish I’d had the course many years ago before I adopted the American dream of living from paycheck to paycheck, keeping up with the Joneses, and fighting my way out of debt as I grew old. It is a simple system. Most basic tools are simple and proven for their particular task–not much improvement on a hammer in centuries :) .. Dave Ramsey, love him or hate him, provides a tool to help anyone out of a rut. As for critics, God bless ‘em. They prove that Dave is going against the flow and soooo many of us know “the flow always go downhill”. Thanks Dave!!

  21. Dave has a good plan, and good motivation, for most people in dire financial situations. I disagree with him about bankruptcy. I agree it is over-used, but his dislike is a little too simplistic. He ignores the fact that an enormous amount of consumer bankruptcy is caused because people get sick, lose their insurance, and cannot pay their medical bills, not because of profligate, out of control, credit card mis-use. He is opposed to regulation of the financial markets despite their recent history, and he is rather cavalier in predicting 12% return on conservative mutual fund investments. Sign me up if this is the case. I don’t believe it myself.
    In Dave’s world everyone can work two or three jobs because no one has to stay home to take care of sick or disabled children or old folks, everyone can start a home based business, and everyone can go for years without little rewards like a night out at a restaurant or a short weekend getaway.

    But he isnt all bad. There is no doubt that he has inspired a lot of people to get on a budget. I am always surprised at how people don’t know where their money goes. Dave definitely makes his listeners focus on this simple money management tool.

  22. I do have an opinion of Mr. Ramsey’s material, but my opinion is based on a cursory review of his FPU study, as well as a 15 year history of leading the Crown Financial Ministries small group study, and lately, the God Provides Film Series. From my review, my concern for Dave’s material is his emphasis to get out of debt (which is a very good thing, mind you), but at a cost of not giving back to God (for Christians, the “tithe”, a biblical mandate). A person or family needs to live within their means, and many attending FPU or using Ramsey’s material probably are in debt because they haven’t followed this rule. In my experience, when a person focuses all of his disposable finances in getting out of debt and leaves God’s part “out”, the focus is on the money, rather than on the One who has given the money to them in the first place. Yes I believe in the stewardship principle, that God owns it all, and what we’ve been given is to be “managed” well. Dave’s material does help people, but my opinion is don’t forget the one who gave you the money and possessions in the first place. Proverbs 3:9 says it best: “Honor God with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops, then your barns will be overflowing…” Personally, I have achieved the same results that many in Ramsey’s course can obtain by following the bible. The Crown Money Map is an excellent guide to help folks out. Give it a look! http://www.crown.org

  23. GHolmes

    @Rick- can tell it was only a cursory review, because Dave does discuss Christian giving while getting out of debt. That when he was getting out of debt that he adhered to the 10% principle giving that you discussed above. Its first part of his budget forms as well.

    I did click on the link you supplied and one of the first topics in your banner was being safe with credit cards. Dave Ramsey’s steps is to eliminate cards which I have done.

    There are so many folks enslaved with debt. There is a marvelous opportunity to witness to non believers by helping them get out of the pit of debt.

  24. I have been using the “pay the smallest debt first and when paid off, use that money for the bigger debts” for over 20 yrs. We heard our preacher talk about it on the pulpit and it is the sermon that has done the most for us ever. (not including the spiritual preaching)

    To give you an idea of how nothing my hubby and I had, when married in 1975 we only had one horse for transportation. the music leader church he had been promised that caused us to move from CA to ARK was given to someone else without notice or apology. The old horse was truly a fgift from God as I had always wanted one and now needed her badly as our car quit working and we had no money to fix it..I staked her out on church property to eat the grass while I worked across the street at at Gibson’s dept store the rode her home at night to the little house we rented.

    During this time my hubby had various illnesses which kept us choosing either buy his meds or buy cereal to eat. There were days I put water in my stomach just to have something in it. Our church at the time offered little or no help. Could not even get on welfare. When the old horse died, our car miraculously started working again but would not pass inspection. I had to sneak out at night to go shopping or get meds my hubby needed. Hubby also took no interest in finances, mostly because there was nothing to work with and he was ill all the time. In that time figure in the effects/costs of 2 tornadoes hitting our house (1982 and 1985) But after hearing that preacher’s plan for getting out of debt (in our case, just getting money) we followed it carefully and now both of us work good jobs and are ready to retire within a few years, I have horses, truck, trailer, home, etc and very little debt. We have a new car to pay off only because the one we had for 10 yrs had a problem with static shock every time you opened the door you got a very baaaad shock. No one was able to figure out why or fix it.
    I know this story sounds fantastic and hard to believe, would not believe it myself had I not lived it.

  25. I like Dave Ramsey and his advice. He is an ordinary guy who fell down (and fell down hard) a couple times, got up, brushed himself off, and, instead of developing a fear of financial success (or anything financial), he embraced what he believes are a good set of principles, and figured out how to use them to help himself, and millions of others. Sure, the average person probably cant work 3 jobs, and just and start a home business. Believe me, I have thought about it; but in my home, I have a kindergartner, an sick elderly mother-in-law, and a sick, disabled husband, who lost his income 5 months ago, all of whom i take care of, before and after my one full time job each day; and i am just too tired for a 2nd or 3rd job, and/or a home-based business on top of it all. But I agree with Dave: if we can, we have to do something more than we are already doing to get out if debt, and achieve financial success, or else we won’t go forward in life. Whether it’s getting a 2nd job, starting a home busiess, or spending less, or saving more. And he is right about something else: whether we like it or not, money is intertwined within our lives, almost every aspect. So, getting out of debt, getting an emergency fund, and a retirement fund built up are important steps down that road to success. We had been living paycheck to paycheck: but paying off those first few small debts really did motivate me to keep going, even though I know it will take me awhile to pay off our debts. Dave’s point, when he tells people that they could be delivering pizzas tonight if they just got off their butts and did something about their situation is, if you are willing and able, you can do it somehow. Who cares whether its American, British, or Japanese? My family doesn’t care, as long as we do everything we can to prepare for tomorrow’s wondeful possibilities that GOD has in store for us.

  26. Merenda Farley

    Dave’s advice is good and his radio program provides education via his callers, their discussions and his advice; however, his use of English and his euphemisms and euphemistic adjectives – freaking, stinking, like your grandmother–but we keep our teeth in, SWI, I love it !, etc. are geeky, common and annoying—my advice ? Do not concentrate on being such a “showman” — such comes across as “hokey/cheesy” – not wild and funny.

  27. janet

    He stole Larry Burkett’s ideas and now markets them as his own. As for being a Christian – I find it really hard to swallow when he tells people how to get out of paying debt that they racked up using credit or buying houses. I have credit cards and use them all the time. I am not in debt and have actually owned everything since I was 33 years old – including houses. I did it the old fashioned way – working and saving. Amazing how much money you can make or use for investments when you aren’t paying off large mortgages. His advice about debit cards is going to get him into trouble one day. Debit cards are the worse thing that ever hit the banking industry. On the surface it is good, but I would never pay for his books or attend a seminar. The mere fact that he copied another media person makes me think less of him – in other words he is NOT the original or the first one to market this so-called financial guru stuff – it was Larry Burkett.

    • scott s

      Dave properly gives Larry Burkett and others credit when using their material. You act like he is plagerising. You would know this if you took his seminar or read his books. I am currently taking his FPU.

      • You can’t be serious that what Dave Ramsey is marketing is new and worth paying money or spending time to learn. Anyone who had a grandparent or even parents who lived through or after the depression has voiced everything that Dave Ramsey has in his books. I even consider some of his advice to be foolhardy and dangerous. Otherwise, everything else is just common sense. Some of it is not reality in some parts of this country when it comes to marriage and how business is conducted in other states. Also, by now someone his age should be wise enough to know that no two marriages are alike and you can’t force another person to do something against their will. I won’t even touch his attitude about how to raise children and his my way or the highway approach. It may have worked for him, but this is not something that works for everyone else. Same thing about his perspective on employment. There are some areas of this country where employment opportunities cease to exist and may never return. Dave Ramsey is hardly a guru or a financial wizard. As for his so call hard times; that is also a joke. Sure he went broke, but all of his so called wealth was on paper and did not exist. Anyone can rack up large mortgages and leverage to the max wishing and hoping that everything works out. If Dave Ramsey had died instead of filing for bankruptcy, there would have been no FPU. He was fortunate to be young enough to rebuild and undo mistakes. He has been successful marketing himself guru; not so sure that his business will survive upon his demise. The brand is built around his brash persona. Actually, the churches in this country used to preach austerity, tithes, saving and charity, but now even religion has become a business today. I listen and watch because I keep current, but I would never pay a cent for his so-called wisdom because it is something I learned from my grandmother.

  28. @janet

    Actually the first was the Bible, that’s where the information came from to begin with, and Dave and Larry were friends.

    “More than 20 years ago, in the early days of his own calling, Dave was influenced by the ministry of Larry Burkett. Larry started his ministry in the 1970s, and he grew to become a well-known, respected author and on-air personality. Dave listened to Larry’s radio show, read his books, and soaked in the wisdom of Scripture. They met and spoke on a number of occasions, and with Larry’s blessing, Dave incorporated many of his biblical financial principles into his first book, Financial Peace.

    There are those in our lives who teach and mentor us…those who’ve gone before and blazed the trails that we travel daily. Larry was one of those men for Dave. His example and godly leadership still serve as inspiration for Dave and help support the message he now carries. Dave would be the first to tell you that Larry’s trust—to carry on that legacy—is a tremendous honor that he and his organization will never take lightly. Though Larry is no longer with us, his wisdom and values live on.”

    -From The Lampo Group, Inc. -One of the men who inspired Dave. 9/8/11

    If that is what you are upset about with Dave then you must have many things you are upset about. I’m typing this on a HP laptop, but HP didn’t come up with the first laptop, it’s “copied.” I was in a hotel the other day but it wasn’t the first company that made a hotel.. I’ve heard Dave many times give credit to Larry for his inspiration, and also of coarse to the Word of God.

    • Again, if you are old enough to have talked to your parents or even grandparents saving and charity were things taught to you as a child. I read some of Larry Burkett’s books. Larry’s books were based on biblical principles. He worked to get churches out of debt. I guess what rubs me the wrong way is how he presents his material. Like it all started with him and he has all of this knowledge. Actually, some of his counsel is wrong. Suze Orman and others have called him on several things; some of it dealt with student loans. I disagree with him about credit cards vs. debit cards. I would never use a debit card, but I will use a credit card. Why? It is cheaper than an attorney and much more effective. This year alone it has put well over $5,000 back into our bank account without filing one lawsuit. Clark Howard is much more consumer saavy and helpful while offering and preaching almost exactly the same thing that Dave Ramsey puts out for consumers. Difference between the two: Dave Ramsey is never wrong and Clark Howard will admit when he is wrong or there is another way to do something. In other words Clark Howard is more approachable and more sincere in his efforts to reach consumers.

  29. Janet-

    You claim that Dave stole Larry’s information but id Clark Howard states something similiar are you not upset that he does not give Larry credit?

    Some people’s parents did not teach them financial responsibility….hence the people that are are severly in debt. And there are many of them.

    And if he is so wrong, why is he so wealthy and why are people successful with it?

    thx

    • Texas12, He is so wealthy because he already had the skillset, some would call it a gift, to be successful in real estate. Then he has done very well with books and teachings, radio, etc. He is a gifted man, but out of touch for people who are really struggling. And I know its usually very wealthy christians who say ” well, they are struggling because they have gotten themselves into this mess” and on and on. But what about someone whose very source of income has been diminished some how, maybe even to no fault of their own? Maybe even due to a poor economy? Neither Dave nor Larry ever really addressed this issue in detail, only just the example of a single parent, which it was always a single mother. Men were always looked at more of like a “survival of the fittest ” mentality, and I really began to see that in Dave and Larrys minds, men who struggle don’t even exist: an after-all-we-don’t attitude.

  30. the worst thing we ever did was to put the credit cards on the mortage…giving us a high mortage…larry bur. Now my husband is sick and I can only find a part time job . Noone will refinance. I have been a christian since I was 15 and I have not done everything right but where is the help that is suppose to come. We listen to larry b and now we might lose everything.

  31. kory kennedy

    I have read a lot of the above comments. I must say that while a lot of Daves principles are good, unfortunately they do not work for everyone nor every situation. Some examples are to just take a second job to earn “extra” money to pay bills, debts, etc. Really? in this economy? Another is single parenting and the financial struggles they face, the example always being a single mother. What about a single father? I do not believe Dave thinks they even exsist, nor understands the struggle they face due to society in general, where help is automatic for a woman through church, friends, government, etc. and if a single father needs help, there always must be a payback, because ” he is a man”. In the state which I live in, there are way more employment opportunities for women, starting at a young age. Another particular one is where advice was given on one of the teachings on “hiring” contractors to work on your house. I have heard Larry Burkett say this as well. About paying “cash” to get the work done cheaper, to avoid taxes. Dear Dave, us contractors are not supposed to do that !

  32. No way you can earn 12 percent in a “good” growth stock mutual fund as Dave suggests over and over. Especially when you go to Dave’s ELPs who push loaded funds. There isn’t a single study that proves loaded funds surpass gains of no-load funds. Save the 3-5 percent load and go with Money magazines suggested no-loadfunds. This approach has worked well for me over the past 30 years.

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