(originally published on December 19, 2013)
Today I read an article by a financial “expert” saying that people should not listen to Dave Ramsey and his financial advice because people’s lives are too complex and important to be boiled down into short cookie cutter answers or platitudes. Unfortunately, many other financial analysts have also had problems with his method of advising people on how to be financially successful.
Dave Ramsey is probably known best for his stance on avoiding debt. If you happen to be in debt, then he wants you to get out of debt. Debt is a shackle around your ankle. It keeps you from ultimately having financial freedom. His radio show is heard by millions of people daily. He seeks to help his callers get a handle on their finances during the few minutes that he talks with them. His 7 “Baby Steps” are the basis of what he talks about. His book The Total Money Makeover is one of the best financial books I have ever read (the other would be Larry Winget’s “You’re Broke Because You Want to Be”).
Just yesterday, I heard him say that since he’s been on the air, his listeners have erased more than $100 million dollars of debt. I’d say that is pretty special. So many people have benefited from Dave’s financial advice. He has had a big hand in helping people escape the prison of debt to enjoy financial freedom. Financial freedom eventually leads to true financial success. Too often, our society sees financial success as appearing rich. Ironically, many of the people in our neighborhoods, towns and on the television are only keeping up the appearances of being rich. The Demi Moore/David Duchovny movie “The Joneses” is a good illustration of this.Having been in the college setting for nearly two decades, I have dealt with 18-22 year olds on a daily basis and all too often I see poor money management decisions. No matter what school I’m at, the college students never seem to have any money when their car breaks down or they need text books but they know the McDonald’s menu front and back, sport the newest Air Jordans and have the latest IPhone.
In our current era of short attention spans and 140 character conversations, Dave Ramsey’s “Platitudes” or simply fixes are exactly what’s needed. As a coach, the more I explain things in short, concise talking points, the more likely my players are to start committing them to memory. Just like that seemingly obvious secret to success in the athletic arena, the secret to financial success is just as obvious. Good old fashioned common sense, discipline and good habits are how a person gives themselves a chance to succeed financially.
Whenever my wife and I travel in the afternoons and find a channel that has Dave Ramsey on the radio, we like to listen to him. We have listened to him enough that we often know Dave’s answer to the caller’s questions before they are even done asking it. That is because his message is consistent and clear. He doesn’t deviate from his proven principles.
Success is a choice. We choose our actions in life. The sad part to this is that many of us only see what is right in front of our noses. We do not plan ahead and do not see the big picture. We see only our tree and not the whole forest. In most cases, we are in our current position in life today because of choices that we previously made. Subsequently, the choices we make today will affect our future.
Dave Ramsey’s clear and consistent message is exactly what we need to hear. It’d be nice if our politicians would adhere to many of these principles that he champions. Imagine spending less than what we earn? How revolutionary! During this Christmas season, I will attend a couple of parties where cookies are served. Many of these cookie platters have the same cookies on them. That is because the baker used a cookie cutter. They are good and I like them. I don’t need complicated. These Christmas cookies are simple and tasty just like Dave’s financial advice.