Dave Ramsey

Written By:

February 27, 2012

I’ve read the books.

I’ve taken the courses.

There is no shortage of sound, Biblical advice out there when it comes to our finances. But no matter what expert you listen to, they all seem to leave something out.

After racking up more than $10k in credit card debt in 2007, I knew something needed to change. I was a chronic spender throughout my 20′s, living beyond my means and robbing Peter to pay Paul. I tithed more than 10% and spent more than 100% of each paycheck. As the Federal Reserve can attest, this is the sort of fuzzy math that can get you into trouble.

When my interest payments finally caught up to my income, I quickly realized what a world of hurt my finances were in. I prayed for God to teach me about finances, to help me be a good steward of what He has blessed me with.

Before I knew it, I was enrolled in a Crown Financial class. Meeting others in my unfortunate financial position was comforting, but it also opened my eyes to how widespread poor stewardship in the church had become. After 10 weeks of immersion into a subject I previously knew little about, I was fired up and ready to lay some serious skid marks down the road to financial freedom.

To be honest, most of the financial books I devoured during that intensive learning period, from Christian advisors like Ron Blue, Randy Alcorn and Matt Bell, quote the same verses, and if there’s a step-by-step strategy (Dave Ramsey refers to the order as “Baby Steps”), it goes something like this:

1. Start an emergency fund (usually around $1000, to be used only when unforeseen circumstances arise)

2. Pay off credit cards (Some diehards insist “cash is king,” and that not using credit cards, or even debit cards, is the wisest decision)

3. Build three to six months of savings (in case you lose your job and need a buffer while you seek employment)

I’ve seen the remaining steps in varying orders, but they usually include: paying off your mortgage, saving for large purchases and investing for retirement.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Dave Ramsey’s radio show, and admire his no-guff tendency to respond to poor financial decisions with, “That’s stupid.” I think he’d probably agree with what I’m about to say in theory.

What I read in Scripture, from the same Book referenced in Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, is story after story about faith.

Simple, trusting, unadulterated faith.

When I tell someone about a ministry opportunity, and they answer me with, “I’d love to, but I’m only on ‘Baby Step Two,’” I get concerned.

Read the books.

Enroll in courses.

Learn everything you can about being a good steward and preparing for the future. Aesop’s The Ant and the Grasshopper fable comes to mind. Just don’t rely on any gimmick, strategy or certification to give you peace – financial or otherwise. Surrendering your life, and everything in it, to the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, is the prudent course.

Be obedient when you hear the Spirit calling you out of your comfort zone. If God has given you a vision you feel is laughable when looking at your current financial situation, may you be bold enough to answer the call anyway.

So, what do you think?  Is the Bible promoting financial peace, spiritual prosperity, or both? In Scripture, does God seem in favor of substantial IRA accounts, or men who will leave it all behind and follow Him with reckless abandon?

Photo credit: Flickr


  • Ryan Talley

    Ramsey’s plans are not very realistic for the majority of Americans.  There aren’t too many people out there in my opinion, that can afford to amass 6 months worth of finances, on top of an emergency fund.  Most of us will never get past those first couple of steps.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Cullimore/1337267740 John Cullimore

       that’s more than true. With average income right now between 32 and 52 thousand, it’s difficult to think of people being able to achieve those.

      The other thing is that those who would look to these advisers are already in up to their elbows with trouble, this goal can seem mountainous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Cullimore/1337267740 John Cullimore

    I think that the big clincher for me is remembering that I’m a steward, disciple, and servant of a mighty King. I have to keep that in perspective.

    There have been times when, without a shadow of a doubt, God was asking me to do nutty things with my cash. Many of these times went directly against practical sense and sound advice.

    But the outcome is that I’ve never lacked when obeying the king. The King knows exactly where to invest his money. He knows exactly what to do. Practical or not… I’ve never gone wrong.

    The debt that I have now, and I do have some, is 100% the result of stupid, selfish behavior, and not following the king. Those impulsive moments when I’ve simply wanted what I’ve wanted and wasn’t keeping my eye on the Father.

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    I don’t think getting involved and giving to ministries conflicts with Financial Peace. Ashley and I went thru the class two years ago, and Dave is pretty adamant about giving to your church, if you’re a believer (regardless of what stage you’re at). That said, I agree that some people glorify things like “financial stewardship” over the reckless abandon that Jesus models for us. The widow with the two mites comes to mind.

    • http://www.thirdoptionmen.org Evan Dawson

      The widow with the two mites is a great example of what I was getting at. When it comes to tithing, we all need to be careful not to get into that “I give 10% so I’m good” mindset, especially when it comes to our time and talents (please forgive the Christianese).

  • Stephanie Anderson

    Hi Evan, I work with Eternal Perspective Ministries, founded
    by author Randy Alcorn, and since I help Randy manage his Twitter feed, I saw
    your tweet that tagged him, and so read your post. I appreciated what you had
    to share, especially the fact that “Surrendering your life, and everything in
    it, to the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, is the prudent course.”
    That has certainly been the case for me and my husband.

     

    However, I was curious to find out which of Randy’s books on
    finances you’ve read that you felt like fell into the step-by-step strategy of
    saving an emergency fund, paying off credit cards, building savings, etc.? (By
    the way, Randy’s not at all asking me to send this.)

     

    From having worked with the ministry for a few years now, I
    can testify that Randy’s books and ministry certainly jive with your thoughts
    about following Christ with reckless abandon. Anyway, if you haven’t yet read
    it, I wanted to offer you a copy of his book Managing God’s Money which
    focuses on the heart behind stewardship.

     

    God bless!Stephanie AndersonEternal Perspective Ministries

    • http://www.thirdoptionmen.org Evan Dawson

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Stephanie. As I said, it has been years, but “Money, Possessions and Eternity” was the Alcorn title (if I remember correctly, it was very Biblically based and appreciated – during the time I was struggling with mounting debt while continuing to fund overseas mission trips).

      I was working at a Christian bookstore in Sarasota, FL during that time. Not sure how his other books fared, but we sold hundreds of Randy’s “Heaven.” Very popular book.

      I’d enjoy a copy of “Managing God’s Money” if it’s not too much trouble. Maybe we could run a review here (don’t worry, our reviews aren’t snarky like this post turned out to be). Having enjoyed so many of Ramsey’s radio shows, I almost changed the title, but was told by a friend they probably wouldn’t have read it otherwise. Go figure).

  • Craig Berlin

    The problem with Dave Ramsey in particular is pretty clear – he states after each show “you can only find true financial peace if you walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.” Really? Wow – that’s a relief! Now I can stop worrying about all those smart financial decisions I’ve tried to make and just give up because it’s hopeless! For me and all the Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and anyone who isn’t Christian “enough” for Dave, we’re screwed!

    I am shocked that someone who espouses something that is basically bigotry is given a pass on this. I have no issue with someone of faith incorporating it into his advice for most subject matters. I do have a problem with stating what is obviously discriminatory and besides, that, Mr. Ramsey may believe he is “divinely inspired” but his advice is far from infallible.

    http://badmoneyadvice.com/2009/05/ten-things-dave-ramsey-got-wrong.html

  • Craig Berlin

    The problem with Dave Ramsey in particular is pretty clear – he states after each show “you can only find true financial peace if you walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.” Really? Wow – that’s a relief! Now I can stop worrying about all those smart financial decisions I’ve tried to make and just give up because it’s hopeless! For me and all the Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and anyone who isn’t Christian “enough” for Dave, we’re screwed!

    I am shocked that someone who espouses something that is basically bigotry is given a pass on this. I have no issue with someone of faith incorporating it into his advice for most subject matters. I do have a problem with stating what is obviously discriminatory and besides, that, Mr. Ramsey may believe he is “divinely inspired” but his advice is far from infallible.

    http://badmoneyadvice.com/2009/05/ten-things-dave-ramsey-got-wrong.html

  • Craig Berlin

    The problem with Dave Ramsey in particular is pretty clear – he states after each show “you can only find true financial peace if you walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.” Really? Wow – that’s a relief! Now I can stop worrying about all those smart financial decisions I’ve tried to make and just give up because it’s hopeless! For me and all the Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and anyone who isn’t Christian “enough” for Dave, we’re screwed!

    I am shocked that someone who espouses something that is basically bigotry is given a pass on this. I have no issue with someone of faith incorporating it into his advice for most subject matters. I do have a problem with stating what is obviously discriminatory and besides, that, Mr. Ramsey may believe he is “divinely inspired” but his advice is far from infallible.

    http://badmoneyadvice.com/2009/05/ten-things-dave-ramsey-got-wrong.html

    • Brent Iden

      Hi Craig, I just read your post here. When I read someones opinion such as yours, I know it’s legitimate even though Dave Ramsey, yourself or I all have different perspectives of how we view our world. Dave Ramsey sounds exclusive to you. I wouldn’t put the blame on him though. I wish I could help you understand that. You may measure the correct way of your opinions through your own viewpoint. I can’t do that for myself. I mess my life up all the time. I can try to figure out what seem the right way of doing something and get a n ability at it and then I’m floundering again. I think most people are like that or a bit ignorant (although we all are). Dave Ramsey is reiterating God’s view when he sounds discriminatory. God is all about “I made people and their stuff and there is no one else like me”. He’s jealous for us to do what he wants. So that might sound like Christians are exclusive bigots or God is. I believe all have opinions, but God’s matters. Please don’t jump to conclusions. Search for the truth on little things like money and even big things like God. There are bigger things than our minds limited understanding. I wouldn’t write something like this to you if I didn’t care when I read what you wrote.

    • Brent Iden

      Hi Craig, I just read your post here. When I read someones opinion such as yours, I know it’s legitimate even though Dave Ramsey, yourself or I all have different perspectives of how we view our world. Dave Ramsey sounds exclusive to you. I wouldn’t put the blame on him though. I wish I could help you understand that. You may measure the correct way of your opinions through your own viewpoint. I can’t do that for myself. I mess my life up all the time. I can try to figure out what seem the right way of doing something and get a n ability at it and then I’m floundering again. I think most people are like that or a bit ignorant (although we all are). Dave Ramsey is reiterating God’s view when he sounds discriminatory. God is all about “I made people and their stuff and there is no one else like me”. He’s jealous for us to do what he wants. So that might sound like Christians are exclusive bigots or God is. I believe all have opinions, but God’s matters. Please don’t jump to conclusions. Search for the truth on little things like money and even big things like God. There are bigger things than our minds limited understanding. I wouldn’t write something like this to you if I didn’t care when I read what you wrote.

      • mrtapeguy

        Brent, just saw your post or I would have responded earlier. I appreciate your thoughts.

        The simple reality for me is that Judaism teaches that any person of good character is a person of God, regardless of faith. I tend to go with that! Dave’s message is completely different and worse, I’ve contacted him directly so that he would clarify his point and I got crickets.

        I know most people don’t feel the way Dave does but far too many do, whether they’re right-wing Christians or radical Muslims. We got one big rock we all have to share.

        Thanks again.

        • Jonathan Merritt

          I am a convert to Judaism as a philosophy and as an adopted culture. When your family lacks such a culture, there is no shame in adopting one.

        • Larry Watts

          In order to understand Dave’s message there must be an understanding of the Bible. The Bible ‘s principles are the basis for Dave’s philosophy.

      • Wayne Thompson

        wisdom and unassumptive

    • tgclstory

      Craig, I feel your anger. When you can be on one side and feel confident in your beliefs, it’s easy to say “only”, but the truth is you can have Jesus and not have financial peace, just like a non-Christian can have financial peace and not have ultimate peace. We all live in a fallen world full of pain and confusion and there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can prove they know everything about God. I know exactly how you feel and can say that admitting you don’t have the answers is the answer. I resigned to the fact that I believe in God and can think of many times I felt confident that there was something greater than myself affecting my life in some way. Dave’s beliefs isn’t “the problem” here. It’s that he is so confident that he has all the answers that bothers someone who isn’t sure. We can be sure of this, Dave does not have ALL the answers, but if we “seek” the one who does and let Him direct us, then we have a chance to feel safe about not having all the answers. Listen to that small voice and just ask Him to show Himself to you.

      • mrtapeguy

        tgistory, I appreciate your comments. I’m not angry – I’ve been dealing with intolerant people my whole life in all areas of the religious and political spectrum. It is what it is.

        I do not subscribe to the theory that non-Christians cannot have ultimate peace. (see below)

        I am quite comfortable that I don’t have all the answers and also comfortable that perhaps we are not supposed to. Faith is in many ways and attempt to make sense of that which we cannot understand. I have no issue with people of faith – only those who are of the mentality that “I’m right and you’re wrong” – the pinnacle of human arrogance when it comes to explaining the cosmos.

        Thanks again.

        • Wayne Thompson

          lol

          • mrtapeguy

            What’s so funny, Wayne?

      • Jonathan Merritt

        That is just another version of Dave Ramseys bigoted religious opinion. He says Prince of Peace and your selling Ultimate Peace. But in the end your both selling a “My way or the highway ” message in a world if scientific enlightenment and knowledge so pack up your tents and scurry away back the desert because I wont do business with a surly temple.

        • Wayne Thompson

          You’re kinda a jerk aren’t ya?

    • Bill

      Craig,

      If you dou do not accept Christ, then ultimately you are in trouble. Only the blood of Jesus can save you from your sins.

      • mrtapeguy

        With all due respect Bill, balderdash. You forget that belief in Christ (or any other deity) as the ultimate arbiter of things is a matter of faith, not fact. You are entitled to your beliefs but as I said before, it is the pinnacle of human arrogance to believe you are absolutely right and anyone who doesn’t share your beliefs is wrong.

        I do not NEED saving from my sins. Judaism does not focus on any afterlife to begin with and dealing with sins is a matter of this life, not the next. We do not require an intermediary to arbitrate matters. At least once a year, we ask God directly for forgiveness and if we are sincere, we are considered “atoned.” This atones us for sins against God but does not, by the way, atone for sins against our fellow man. These must be addressed with the individual in question.

        And we don’t do that because we’re worried about getting into heaven. We do it because it’s the right thing to do to acknowledge when you have behaved badly and try to make amends.

        Sorry, I like my system better than yours. But I’m damn sure not going to sit here and tell you you’re misguided and wrong…so stop saying that to other people, particularly if they are of good character. You don’t have all the answers.

  • Christina

    Dude, faith without works is dead. God honors those who dig in, get the wisdom. Life is not about sitting on our hands, uneducated and wishing, part of it is rolling up your sleeves and working at what is in our power to be a good steward over. Dave Ramsey is being a spiritual father to many that have never been taught what to do with money. And he’s doing a fine job of it.

  • Christina

    Dude, faith without works is dead. God honors those who dig in, get the wisdom. Life is not about sitting on our hands, uneducated and wishing, part of it is rolling up your sleeves and working at what is in our power to be a good steward over. Dave Ramsey is being a spiritual father to many that have never been taught what to do with money. And he’s doing a fine job of it.

    • Dennis

      Dave Ramsey also teaches many untruths, twisting the scriptures. He is not a good choice for a “spiritual father.” http://dennisregling.blogspot.com/2014/03/why-do-we-gather-among-thorns.html

    • Erin

      I don’t think he is saying don’t read the books and don’t get the wisdom, but he is saying don’t depending on them as your source to solve all your problems or to dictate your every financial move. He is saying to depend on God, with the wisdom you learn ftom these materials, but rather than having total devotion to these materials, you should have total devotion to God. He is your source at all times. He can be pushing you in a direction that in the natural seems nuts, but God knows what He is doing, and He had a plan. Really I think he is saying ultimately learn to listen to what God wants you to do rather than what David Ramsey wants you to do.

      But I will say that learning to hear God takes getting to know him. And also if it is the right move, the Bible will back it up, and often times many other believers will affirm what God has told you to do. Hlwever, know that when you ask God a question he often does not give the answer right away. But in the meantime remember to keep trusting…and while you are waiting keep doing what you know to do that is good and wise, and until He gives you the answer. Then do that with His strength.

  • zoosstink

    I think there is no god.

    • Rob_Drury

      Unfortunately, you think incorrectly.

      • zoosstink

        Hmmm…still not convinced.

        • Rob_Drury

          Irrelevant. He still exists.

          • zoosstink

            Do you also believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

          • Rob_Drury

            Nope. But then, I haven’t met them.

          • zoosstink

            You met god? Oh this I gotta hear!

          • Rob_Drury

            Yep! Nothing unusual here. Millions, perhaps billions, of others have as well.

          • zoosstink

            Oh no, very unusual. If you’re hearing voices, there’s a name for that- schizophrenia. A good psychologist can help you.

          • Rob_Drury

            What about all of the good psychologists who would consider this entirely normal. There are a lot of them!

            Also, if you choose to take the scientific high road, please keep in mind that is extremely unscientific to discard a concept when you have no evidence whatsoever to discredit it.

            Again, millions or billions have directly observed my claims to be true. Are we all schizophrenic?

          • zoosstink

            No, it is extremely unscientific to ACCEPT a concept when there is no evidence to support it.
            You are making the claim that there is a god; the onus of proof rests on you to provide sufficient evidence that your claim is valid.

          • Rob_Drury

            Actually, we’re both right. In science, there is never considered to be probability of zero; and no probability of one unless the occurrence is directly observed. The best you can claim is that you don’t believe there to be a god. I can claim the opposite out of first-hand, empirical experience.

            However, you are incorrect regarding the burden of proof. It is not one me; it is on God. He has proven it to me. If you want proof, feel free to ask Him yourself.

          • zoosstink

            I asked, he didn’t answer. More than once.

          • Rob_Drury

            Pity. Perhaps it’s an issue of sincerity; or maybe you’re just not asking the right question.

          • zoosstink

            Or maybe he’s just a figment of your imagination.

          • Jonathan Merritt

            Lets be thankful that he did not quote the law of thermodynamics to disprove evolution.

          • Jonathan Merritt

            Yes he does

    • ProvidingLight.Org

      God’s existence is proven everyday, all day long when He answers the calls of His followers. His existence cannot be proven to those who don’t believe. Being a believer & following God is a choice. So in choosing Him, you can hear Him through the Holy Spirit & His presence is felt in your heart. Zoosstink, I am praying for you right now. I pray that you will change your heart & mind and choose to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior. And I that you will believe that He died on the cross for your sins so that you can experience His glory forever. Amen.

      • zoosstink

        That’s the same nonsense I’ve heard all my life. You’re a good parrot.

      • Jonathan Merritt

        Polly want a cracker?

  • Daniel Siddall

    Bald men fighting over a comb….

  • Michel A. Bell

    The bottom line is to listen to God and not man, including me. When God says do something, do it: PERIOD!

  • keith atkisson

    When the Lord tells me to not worry about our shelter(house, apt. and mortgage), our food, ( a Kenmore refrigerator, $567 on credit card and all the kitchen tools to make great suppers.) How we then need to be able to pay for the stuff, to survive. A car to work means: ( garage, mortgage again, car(s) with payments, a solid college educated job to make sure there is enough cash to pay for all the worldly things I just listed).

    Then we listen to the lie of our neighbors and those who are so-called Christ-followers and pastors who have to take marketing and social media courses so they can have somewhat of a chance of attracting paying members ( I know this because I helped plant three churches here in San Diego before I made this connection. Why didn’t anybody tell me that church planting is both a science and a business venture? I read somewhere in some fat book that God takes care of all that stuff and doesn’t need us to spend $5,000 on colored brochures and invites stuffed into peoples’ mailboxes)

    Lord, am I the one deceived by Mr. Satan? Am I living in a dream world like Neo and his friends were in the hollywood blockbuster The Matrix?

    Hey God! Help! I’m sorry I’m soo stupid not to follow the lie-soaked mob mentality we call home and now I don’t attend any building, on any day of the week associated with the word “church”.

    Am I confused for not joining the club here? Why did my guilt finally disappear when I stopped hanging around confused folks? Don’t people who speak christianese follow mob rules, or did my sociology and psycholoigy college classes go to waste after all?

    So, please let me rant-a rama some more. Then we use our worldy-shaped eyes to look around like we have for the last 20-50 years, and convince ourselves and our spouse of the exact family that God gave me, you know that person who loves me yet uses sex as a manipulative weapon because their mothers hated barbie’s waistline size?

    Well, my wife or husband, my college education and the seemingly, flawless connections brought about by the Lord himself ( so I can pay for all the stuff and Christmas presents too (credit card again?), all seemingly to keep our significant other in cool, summer dresses and Spongebob Squarepants pajamas, are thereby distracted enough for a long, long time so that they don’t hopefully wonder off 5-10 years down the road and get bored with the empty and joyless life with all the stuff that shoves dark matter into our hearts.

    Now that I’m situated, sexually semi-happy, perhaps kids where only one has autism because of the fluoride, being a hazardous material, has been in our tap water for decades, I also work full-time so I can give +10% of it all back into a church that for all I know, is having financial troubles because they are surviving on credit and following the mob too.

    With our mortgage now up to date, in which the Lord said don’t put down roots, or else I can’t convince you to go to other areas I need you to be at, like say, anywhere? So we accept that we will be staying put for quite some time, thereby earning enough equity in our house to move somewhere else and procreate the same garbage and idol worship all over again until we die . Then our children can unfortunately do the same idol worship we did, and therefore teach it to their kids.

    I dunno Lord of all Creation? Why is it I still stop by these website to gather data for my research Papers and I never feel like I fit into the conversation?

    I guess that’s why I’m starting and running a nonprofit making protheses by 3D printing instead of making weapons in a machine shop like I have been doing. You say Lord, I’ll be making less money in 2016 doing that? Furthermore, since I am 57 and I have already been living with my mother and older sister for the last 10 years, that I might be sleeping and microwaving in my nonprofit’s office? How will I attract an attractive christian lady that way?

  • keith atkisson

    Where is my post from the other day that I spent 30 minutes writing and I kept a copy of so I can use it in my marketing campaigns? It appears deleted. :(

    If you disagree with me, then say something. Is my post hidden away somewhere here? If not, then be a man and put it back up, please.