Dave Ramsey used to be my biggest personal finance hero! I used to LOVE almost everything he produced and even still give him credit for helping me to navigate my own financial catastrophe over a decade ago.
But today I’m going to outline 4 reasons that I stopped following Dave Ramsey LONG before all of this drama around the federal lawsuit and the departure of Chris Hogan emerged (which I cover extensively in this video).
Let me rapid fire the 4 reasons and then we’ll go into more detail for each of them in a moment.
So while I understand that this content is probably going to ruffle some feathers on both sides (the Dave-fanatics and the Dave-haters), I ultimately want to encourage all of us to engage us in a critical thinking exercise, which I wholeheartedly believe Dave would actually endorse.
I have actually debated with myself for years as to whether or not I should make this content. But, I think it’s important to have an honest discussion about my reasons for unhitching my wagon from DR.
So, let’s get into it...
Hey friend, I’m Brad Long here with ZeroDebtCoach where we help 5 and 6 figure corporate employees and entrepreneurs escape the cringy corporate cult helping them to: 1) organize and optimize their financial lives, 2) eliminate their debt and 3) accelerate toward financial independence by starting and growing an online business.
So as we’re jumping in, four important personal facts I want to include in full disclosure.
1. I’ve never been an employee of the Ramsey organization.
2. I DID go through DR’s Financial Peace University curriculum back in 2004 and following that system I was able to pay off over $174,000 worth of debt in just 2.5 years. That’s consumer AND mortgage debt combined and I give Dave and his system a TON of credit for giving me a solid framework to work through all of that.
3. In 2017, I spent just under $1800 to matriculate through Ramsey’s FCMT program, which included a 3-day live event at his offices outside of Nashville, TN, so that I could become a “Ramsey Certified” coach.
4. Throughout all of that involvement, I was also an unpaid coordinator for some of his local Financial Peace University classes.
So, I was an all-in “fanboy” for years and used to LOVE Dave’s brand of what I considered “tough love” harshness.
So much so that, I even bought dozens of copies of his materials to give to friends and family to teach them the principles and subsequently to start my own financial coaching career.
I sincerely do not regret in any way, my involvement with the organization. My point in sharing this perspective is to share how and why my mind has changed over the past decade.
As we’re getting into the 4 reasons, I want you to remember something.
The entire point of Dave’s platform is not for any of us to follow his advice “hook line and sinker” or to agree with every single opinion and perspective he has.
No, the point of his platform is really to train you to be able to think critically for yourself and to act for yourself in your own best interest especially when it comes to the complicated and emotional subject of personal finance.
And with 78% of the population still living paycheck to paycheck, it proves that there’s still a lot of work to be done.
In my opinion, Dave’s material is excellent for people who are in the same position I used to be. Broke, in debt, almost completely financially illiterate, no budgeting skills and desperate to make a change.
So in short, I graduated from what I think is the best part of Dave’s platform and advice and that is his “7 Baby Steps’ particularly for debt-elimination.
As I developed my own critical thinking skills and actually started coaching real-life students, I discovered that there’s tons of stuff he’s just plain wrong about:
Credit Cards - The straw man argument that goes something like this: “I never met a millionaire that said he got rich off of using credit cards for airline miles and rewards points.” Of course you haven’t because that guy doesn’t exist.
No one would EVER say that.
That’s called a “straw man” argument. That’s when someone takes another person's argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.
Yes, some folks should not use credit cards EVER, BUT some people like my wife and I can use them responsibly to do things like save tens of thousands of dollars on airline tickets over the past decade.
Credit Score philosophy - A “zero” credit score can totally work for you if you’re a decamillionaire like Dave is, but it’s totally unrealistic for most people.
Most of us still need to have some semblance of a credit score to help us do important things like rent or buy real estate or to get reasonable rates on insurance, just to name a couple of examples.
His investing advice is too basic and outdated for most people - great if you’re just starting out, but you have to graduate to a much more customized investment strategy and constantly increase your investment acumen if you want to win with investing.
Much more content around this coming in the future.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies - Here again he employs the “funny money” straw man argument, where he at least projects an appearance that he knows little to nothing about the crypto space. With major investment banks like , it looks like crypto is here to stay. Whether you’re into it or not, you should at least familiarize yourself with it (which you can do in this video here).
Much more to say about this, but I’ll leave it there for now.
There are many more points to make, but this sufficiently buttresses the fact that I "graduated" from his platform.
Once I actually started coaching students myself, I quickly realized that Dave’s “one size fits all” advice does not work and is not palatable for most people.
Again, the principles are solid, but the coaching process has taught me that you have to meet people where they are, find out what they need the most and and THEN help them to adhere the principles to their circumstances in a way that they can 1) understand and 2) is palatable enough for them to stay engaged.
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Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been a wholehearted “fanboy” of RS for over a decade and was an enthusiastic entrant into "Financial Coach Master Training" (FCMT) AND the "Preferred Coach" program.
But after about a year and a half in the program, I realized that:
1. The instructors were all “employees” and not small business owners like we as coaches are, nor were they “online entrepreneurs' like many of us were aspiring to be. So there seemed to be a lot of “platitudes” when it came to coaching us on how to run our businesses, but not a lot of “real world” perspective that a small business owner would possess.. This reality also leads me to “b.”.
2. There wasn’t a real understanding of how to build a business online. The “coach” training was great in terms of structure and process, but wasn’t really preparing me for online entrepreneurship, which is what I really wanted.
3. The coaching methodology requirements we were expected to follow were, in my opinion, too restrictive and I felt creatively “cramped”. Real coaching students need flexibility in some areas in order to be encouraged to stay engaged.
4. Like I mentioned in a previous video, they very cavalierly raised my monthly subscription 150% with an announcement during a Zoom call and immediately canceled my membership when I respectfully expressed dissent.
So, those are some of the reasons I left the PCP and I’ve had many conversations with current and former coaches who have had VERY similar experiences.
Now, I WILL say that his “in your face” sort of “tough love” is something I actually used to be a fan of back in my own debt-elimination days. A decade ago, I was a fan of it because I recognized the “foolishness in me” that Dave was talking to and I knew I needed that tough love AND I never felt like he went too far with it back then.
But as the years have passed, I can’t help but feel this “tough love” Dave has turned into, in my opinion, more of an “abusive” Dave.
To illustrate, there are some clips in the video portion of this post from a recent and rather insensitive rant he did about people who need stimulus checks.
So again, I just don’t think it’s appropriate as a professing Christian to call people “stupid” or “idiots” no matter how right you think your perspective is.
And this alone is probably now the biggest reason that I can just no longer throw my recommendation behind his platform or the delivery of his content.
So, am I telling you to stop following Dave Ramsey? No. Not necessarily. At the end of the day, the principles are the principles and they are solid.
My only admonition is for you to look more closely at Dave’s current delivery of the principles and of the organization itself and ask yourself if you’re okay with the way they are postured, and with the way they operate.
But, if you’re not okay with it… Ultimately, we as consumers vote with our attention and with our currency and if we are in vehement disagreement with an influencer's approach, the easiest way to show that disapproval is the withdrawal of funding.
So I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about this. Leave a comment below telling me… Do you agree? Am I missing anything? Where am I wrong? Also, let me know what you had for breakfast... :)
Now, if money, debt, financial chaos is something you struggle with and you constantly feel isolated about, I’ve got some great news for you and it’s free.
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Thanks so much for reading and we’ll see you in the next video post!