Dave Ramsey

Phil Dawson

MY FIRST ENCOUNTER with Dave Ramsey was in 2010, when I stumbled across a radio broadcast featuring one of his recorded presentations. His style was funny and engaging, and I thought he might be helpful in teaching my kids about money.

I bought each of them his book The Total Money Makeover and gave them reading assignments, which were followed by group discussions in the weeks that followed. Later, I also attended his local Financial Peace University (FPU) classes with daughter Karah. In terms of stamping the financial ignorance out of my kids, results have been mixed. Still, I consider myself a fan.

Mention Dave Ramsey and there will be the full spectrum of responses. Those who consider themselves highly literate in personal finance will scoff with indignation, including many who read this blog, I suspect. This is not Ramsey’s audience. There will be others who have applied his “seven baby steps” formula and have rescued themselves from the brink of financial, and sometimes marital, disaster. They will pronounce their everlasting gratitude. I know enough of these people to have respect for the market that Ramsey serves.

His site’s landing page has plenty of links to simple but free tools and motivational anecdotes that might encourage those wanting to get a grip on their finances. It also provides links to help you find Ramsey’s daily radio broadcast and local FPU classes.

To be sure, there are plenty of opportunities to purchase books, DVDs and other items on the website, but Ramsey practices what he preaches with regard to credit cards: You cannot use them to purchase anything directly from the site. Credit cards and debt are anathema to his financial roadmap, and are to be dispatched with swift and brutal efficiency. Ramsey also uses his powerful brand to promote a number of financial products. In addition, there are tools to find “endorsed local providers” for real estate, insurance and tax services. This is a for-profit enterprise, after all.

Ramsey’s teachings include advice and financial projections that are disputed, and may even cause you to scratch your head from time to time. In one very public dustup, Ramsey’s investment and retirement income guidelines were challenged by a group of financial planners. Ramsey did not back down. When providing sample numbers in his FPU presentation, he uses the question, “What if I’m half wrong?” His point: Even if his projections are incorrect, the principles behind them are not.

The site also includes a blog that takes on financial topics of a fairly elementary nature. Again, for his target audience, discussions are probably best kept well out of the weeds. The content on the site may seem rudimentary and incomplete to some of us, but I believe it holds real value for those struggling to come to grips with the world of personal finance.

If I had a friend who needed some basic guidelines on budgeting and money management, I wouldn’t hesitate to send them to the site. Ramsey gives simple advice that is easy to grasp for even the most financially challenged among us. He is likely to leave his followers in far better financial shape than he found them. The anecdotes and encouragement on offer may inspire readers to overcome their fears—and instill the necessary confidence to take those first “baby steps” toward financial freedom.

When not paddling, biking or shooting, Phil Dawson provides technical services for a global auto manufacturer. He, his sweetheart Donna and their four extraordinary daughters live in and around Jarrettsville, Maryland. His previous blogs include Making Your Case, Course Correction and Thanksgiving Prayer. You can contact Phil via LinkedIn.

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