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.

  • 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.

  • 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.