Personal Finance 

About Dave Ramsey

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Dave RamseyDave Ramsey is one of the most well-known names in personal finance today, perhaps one of the most well known in our Top Money Guru poll, especially when it comes to debt reduction. Ramsey is known for his no-excuses stance on getting out of debt and living a life without debt.

One of the reasons that Ramsey resonates so well with many of his listeners is due to the fact that he has experienced financial trouble — including bankruptcy. Additionally, Ramsey isn’t shy about his identification as a born-again Christian. He has become increasingly vocal about the intersection of faith and finance.

This profile is part of our Top Money Guru poll. For the next two weeks we’ll be highlighting ten personal finance experts for our first ever Top Money Guru poll – you can vote for your favorite guru here. It takes less than a minute and you could win a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Poll ends June 10th.

Dave Ramsey and Debt-Free Living

While Dave Ramsey offers advice and opinions on all aspects of personal finance, he is perhaps most vocal about getting rid of debt, and then living without credit cards or debt of almost any kind. (While he claims that he hasn’t borrowed even for his recent home purchases, he does understand if his listeners get a mortgage.)

Ramsey came to his debt-free living conclusions as part of his own transformation. By the time Ramsey was 26 years old, he had a real estate portfolio worth more than $4 million. However, in order to build to that point, he was leveraged. He used debt to fund his success. At one point, though, more than $1 million in short-term notes was called in by a creditor. Ramsey filed for bankruptcy and began his journey.

Ramsey advocates that his followers get out of debt as quickly as possible. He popularized the term “debt snowball,” a process for getting out of debt by tackling each debt individually, starting with the debt with the lowest balance. He also wrote the popular The Total Money Makeover, which offers a step-by-step plan for getting out of debt and building a secure financial future.

Products sold by Ramsey include Financial Peace University, a course which is taught by certified instructors through religious congregations. The idea is to apply Christian teachings to finances, and help couples get out of debt — and stay out of debt.

Ramsey often advocates cutting up credit cards and living without debt. He encourages alternative credit reporting, and getting out of the credit scene altogether. Debt-free living is a central tenet of his philosophy.

Appealing to Emotions

Some of the criticisms leveled at Dave Ramsey include his advice in the debt snowball to start with the lowest balance, instead of the balance with the highest interest rate. He has also received criticism for his no-excuses stance against credit cards (rewards aren’t enough to justify their use). However, he has often pointed out that it’s more about the psychology of success, rather than strict adherence to the math behind the situation. Indeed, Ramsey often points out that it is the quick successes that help keep consumers motivated to make progress in their finances.

Ramsey also appeals to many Christians who see his advice as sound, but also based in faith. However, one doesn’t have to be religious to find some good advice in what Ramsey has to offer in terms of motivation to get out of debt and live debt-free.

Guru Vitals:

  • Twitter Followers: ~380,000
  • Facebook Fans: ~1,375,000
  • # of Books: 16 (10 adult, 6 children)

You can find him on Twitter @DaveRamsey or through his website

What do you think about Dave Ramsey?

{ 20 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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20 Responses to “About Dave Ramsey”

  1. Seasongs says:


    Dave Ramsey has helped many people, and offers sound financial advice. His Financial Peace University classes are helpful, entertaining, and real. As mentioned in the info session above, you don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from his sound financial acumen. I recommend.

  2. Jerry Mandel says:

    Ramsey is silly about not ever using credit cards. We couldn’t afford to travel without bonus miles and points. Also, savings on gasoline. Why carry around a lot of cash (Cards are “convenience cash”.)and write a lot of checks? I have monthly utility and insurance bills auto paid on cards for convenience and to rack up miles and points. In fact, we hardly ever write a check.

    • Daniel says:

      Jerry, it’s important to remember Dave’s target audience: it’s people who have major credit-card debt and other financial problems.

      I went through Dave’s FPU class, and found it to have very good information except for his investing advice. Along the way, I have figured out that the most important part of it is the budget: you have to write down what you’re going to spend money on, and then you spend money on only what you wrote down. Once you get to that point, the actual mechanism of transaction (be it debit card, credit card, check, or cash) is of much less significance. Even so, my wife and I still prefer cash, and I usually have anywhere from $100 to $300 on me at any given point. I never worry about being mugged, because I don’t act like I carry a wad of cash. My wife spends exclusively cash except at Target, where she uses a Target card for the 5% discount.

      And, I write one check a month, to church. Everything else is done with billpay.

      The only thing I use credit cards for anymore is online purchases, or other times when I don’t want to give someone a debit card or cash.

      As a result of all of this, I have come to believe the studies that show that people spend more money when they use credit vs cash, and even debit vs cash. I have seen it in my own experience: we really do spend less when we have to use FRNs.

    • Gene says:

      And if you’re disciplined enough to pay the bill in full when it arrives each month, that’s fantastic. Unfortunately the average consumer doesn’t have that level of discipline.

    • Ever heard of a debit card? That’s convenient cash. Credit cards are convenient credit.

  3. I have several friends and one of my chidren’s in-laws that swear by him. What ever works for a person is good for me.

  4. Lion says:

    I agree with 99.9% of what Dave Ramsey says. The one place we differ is the use of credit cards. He cuts them up while I like to use them to earn extra awards.

    Of course, he never has to worry about going into debt and getting socked with extra fees/charges. Oh, wait, I don’t have to worry about that either since I buy only what I can afford and I pay off my cards in full every month. 🙂

  5. jonathanira says:

    I agree with Dave Ramsey’s thoughts about paying off the credit card with the lowest balance first. When you have a number of credit cards, late payment fees add up very quickly, and a late payment can raise your interest rate considerably. Paying off a small balance gives you at least a small amount to apply to other accounts. Of course, if balances on your cards are about equal, paying off highest interst does make $$ and ¢¢.

    • Mike in Houston says:

      We did the same and found it motivated us to get rid of the small balances first; we saw a quicker reward by doing so………… more credit card GONE.

  6. admiral58 says:

    i’ll always maintain my credit cards. Those companies pay me hundreds just to use them. But I never carry a balance and have never paid a fee or interest. So i’m in the minority.

  7. Paul says:

    I listened to Dave for 2 yrs+; followed his methods towards financial peace and in Dec ’06 we became ‘debt free, including the mortgage!’ He believes that personal finance is 20% knowledge & 80% behavior. In the process of getting out of debt, he says that “If you live like no one will now, later, you can live like no one else!”

    We still use a monthly budget; his cash envelop system; we have a very health emergency fund; utilize a credit & debit card for those on-line purchases, travel needs and to buy gas; but mostly, we use ‘cash’.

    Personal finance is ‘personal’ and if you can figure out what works for you, that is all that matters! I will share with you that being debt free – is pretty cool!!!

    Thank you for your blog. I’ve been following you from the beginning and this is 1st time I’ve responded. Dave’s message reached us and I hope he reaches some of your readers.

  8. Mike in Houston says:

    We took the Dave Ramsey class 4 years ago and wished we had learned and used his program when we were in our 20’s and 30’s. We are both 60, we are now debt free and have no mortgage, no car payments; believe me its nice to not have to worry about having a credit score. Our money belongs to us and not some banker charging 15%-23% No creditors calling and having cash at the end of each month instead of credit card statements to juggle is fantastic. Talk about no pressure on you and your spouses relationship. We NEVER argue about money. Our retirement is looking great with lots of options for us.

    Our son and daughter-in-law, who are both 35, have taken the class as well. His wife got up in class and cut up their credit cards. They went to a cash only budget and will be debt free by the end of 2013. Not many young people can brag about living a life like they will have. The cars are not new, but they own them.

    By the way they live in California (expensive), she stays home with the 2 boys; he does not have a big fancy position or job and did not finish college. They are frugal and control the urge to be compulsive on purchases.

    A very proud Dad and Mom.

  9. JoeTaxpayer says:

    The analogy I frequently offer is that of an AA meeting. A recovering alcoholic should never think he can go back to social drinking. And it’s absurd to suggest they try.
    If you frame the discussion that way, Dave is offering advice to those who have already shown they can’t handle debt or credit cards. So when he says ‘there’s no responsible use of credit cards’ he may be right, but only for his followers.

  10. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Not all credit card users carry a balance and pay interest. I believe about 1/3 are ‘pay in full’ users, and those users are getting benefits that cash users miss. Convenience, safety, extended warranty, cash/rewards, etc.

    I respect Dave, and for his audience, he’s great. But the 1/3ers should seek advise elsewhere.

    (disclosure/minor brag – My 14 year old’s 529 college savings account was funded only with deposits from a credit card direct cash rebate. It stands at $17,284 today. With 8 years of deposits and growth I’m looking at over $30,000 before she’s in her last year of college. “Credit card rewards won’t make you rich” – true, but look at any statistics regarding savings, and this $30K looks pretty good to me.

  11. Greg says:

    In reading some of the comments, I was a little compelled to respond on the concept of not using cards, versus the value they might carry.
    The only debt I carry right now is our mortgage. We do use a card for everyday expenses, pay it off each month and use their rewards as sort of a gift to take our kids to a waterpark hotel each year. In the past, I’d even used an intro 0% on purchases for 18 months to create sort of a balance transfer to pay for the balance of a car purchases. Since I did it by utilizing my everyday purchases by building up a balance on the intro card that I would have typically paid for, I didn’t have to even pay a balance transfer fee.
    I try not to miss a trick.
    Truth is, cards have those values. It even allows me to track where everyday purchases rise and fall, as in what areas. That though, leads me to the part I consider as the downfall. Like it or not, it is “convenience cash”. Unfortunately, many don’t do well with that. I’m pretty disciplined myself, as in I can’t remember the last thing I bought for myself, but I find myself nagging my wife about her spendings. She tries to curb things when I tell her, but she’s not perfect… Neither am I… I guess. The fact is, she might learn a thing or two from using cash, as in making choices. Choices like, “I have no money in my wallet, so I’m not getting shoes, or that second iced coffee today” or whatever else comes across that mind of hers.
    We get by just fine, but there’s money there to be saved, without necessarily living in squaller, and many of the things we might buy would not be missed. So, personally, I think there’s a trade off there. I wouldn’t call using cash silly, but let’s face it, I haven’t taken the plunge to do it myself, simply because I know where conveniences lie. I watch our budget and we do ok, but I still say there’s a potential of a day on the horizon that would require us to try it, and that we would benefit from doing so. That’s just my take.

  12. freeby50 says:

    JoeTaxpayer, The analogy to an AA meeting is good one. I think that is a very good way to put it.

    But the problem I have with Ramsey is that he preaches that debt is evil inherently no matter if he’s talking to people with debt problems or those of us who have no problems managing credit.

  13. I like what JoeTaxpayer had to say – Dave Ramsey is great, but not for the 1/3 that have a better handle on their finances.

    (re: Joe’s disclosure/minorbrag, $30K is nothing to sneeze at, but college today is outrageously expensive. In 7 years, I would guess that it will be even more expensive. Get her into some obscure sport like wrestling so she can get an athletic scholarship (and no boyfriends). One astute real estate investor bought a leveraged 3 bedroom 2 bath house that rents for cash flow for his recently born son. By the time he is in college, the equity and the accrued cash flow from that rental property can fund his Harvard education.)

  14. Dave is the real deal. I live in his hometown of Naschville and he has an excellent reputation here. In fact, his business is perpetually voted best place to work here every year.

    He has the reputation of practicing what he preaches. I follow his teachings and actually have developed courses of my own that teach the same type of philosophy with a little more emphasis on the faith aspects.

    I live without credit cards and debt and as well, and it absolutely works better than anything else. It’s just hard for most people to believe that it can be done.

  15. Robyn says:

    Dave has truly changed how my generation thinks about debt. I am using his financial freedom methods as well as methods from another book by author Usiere Uko called, “Practical Steps to Financial Freedom and Independence: Your Road Map to Exiting the Rat Race and Living Your Dreams” by author Usiere Uko. The book blends is on personal growth and development ( without which you cannot take the steps) and practical steps.

  16. Febsky says:

    I attended his Financial Peace University and his principles are like the principles of my parents and grand parents. Really old school.

    But hey, that old school principles works!

    So I really like him. (And yup! I don’t have credit cards either. Just debit)

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