Wait a Second, Do I LIKE Dave Ramsey?

When I wrote about my favorite podcasts on money last week, I mentioned that I was checking out a new one (LiFE).  What I didn’t say was that I had added another podcast: The Dave Ramsey Show.  I figured I would only listen to an episode or two and then unsubscribe, as I do with many podcasts.  After all, I knew Dave’s message, and it wasn’t for me.
I had already been into personal finance for a few years before read or heard anything of Dave’s.  Because he was so popular, especially with some family members, I thought I should familiarize myself.  I checked out Total Money Makeover from the library and paged through it.  I wasn’t impressed.
The main thing I didn’t like about TMM and Dave’s message is that his solutions are one-size-fits all.  I think his no-tolerance approach to debt is exactly what a certain type of person needs to hear – a person who has proven himself to be irresponsible with credit.  The testimonials clearly illustrate the kind of person who benefits from this approach.  Dave’s best audience is a homeowner deep in commercial debt, but he wants to impose his message on everyone else, too.  At a time in my life that I was learning about the nuances and complexities of personal finance, I didn’t appreciate that.
I am not in Dave’s primary audience.  I know we’re going to have to take out a mortgage to buy a home in southern California.  I don’t want to be in debt frivolously, but I think I can judge when debt is a tool and when it’s a liability.  I trust myself (and my husband) with credit cards.  And we’re not in debt (sort of).  What we need to know about personal finance is how to sustainably manage money, how to invest, and how to set and reach long-term goals.  While Dave likely is an expert in those areas in his personal life, those are not strong areas of teaching for him.  So I really don’t see how his message benefits me.
With all that in mind, I was very surprised to find that I enjoyed listening to Dave’s show!  I listened to about two episodes and thought “OK, I’ve heard this all before.  Same old, same old.”  But I didn’t unsubscribe and the next day another downloaded so I listened to it, and the next day the same thing happened, and it’s been happening for two weeks now.  Why do I keep listening?
I like Dave’s podcast for the same reason I like PF blogs: They give me a glimpse into other people’s money lives.  I like hearing the triumphant “WE’RE DEBT-FREEEEEEEEEE” screams and sharing in the victories of the callers.  I even enjoy the advice-seeking calls because the callers receive some hope concerning their situations.  PF blogs are the same – some are encouraging, some are depressing, all are unique to the individual writers.  I’m not reading or listening to sit under the teaching of any self-appointed PF guru.  I’m in it for the personal stories.
Do you consume any media produced by people you don’t really care for?  What do you think of Dave Ramsey?
photo by alancleaver_2000

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9 Responses to "Wait a Second, Do I LIKE Dave Ramsey?"

  1. Like you, I’m not a big Ramsey fan. I did the math once, and it would cost me $66,000 more to buy a small starter home here, where prices are cheap, using the Dave Ramsey plan than it would getting a mortgage. I wrote a guest post about this topic for Studenomics last year: http://studenomics.com/real-estate/save-money-home-mortgage/

    1. Emily says:

      Very interesting! While I agree that debt is dangerous, there are some cases, like a prudent mortgage, when it can enhance your life and probably become an investment and is worth the risk. Your example is realistic (15 years to save for 100% of a house – if not more!) whereas Dave I think sometimes throws out very unrealistic suggestions (“you just need to double your income,” “assuming mutual funds returning 12% over the long term”) to reach his high goals.

  2. I’m definitely not a Dave Ramsey fan but can see how his tough on debt approach appeals to people who are really drowning in debt. I think I’ve got a good handle on our finances even though we have 20K in student loans.

    1. Emily says:

      I definitely agree. I’m thinking of recommending Total Money Makeover to my parents though. Even though their debt isn’t very “bad,” they don’t seem terribly motivated to get rid of it.

  3. […] parents live so I’ve heard of him a few times.  He has a totally different money philosophy than Dave Ramsey (low-interest debt is great!) so I started listening to it to safeguard against becoming […]

  4. […] she listens to Dave Ramsey’s podcast even though she follows none of his advice.  I wrote a similar post a while […]

  5. […] My role is as a “table host” so I’m not actually the coordinator (thank goodness!) and as I’ve been a fan of DR’s for some time (as a radio personality, not so much as a financial advisor) and am very familiar with his […]

  6. […] have come to admire Dave Ramsey as a radio host and motivational speaker, but remain skeptical of his one-size-fits-all approach to financial […]

  7. […] paying off any other type of debt.  Even though I’m not a Suze Orman consumer (the way I am with Dave Ramsey and Ric Edelman) and so I’m not familiar with her philosophy, I could hardly believe that this […]

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