Why I Don’t Like Dave Ramsey

I guess it’s not really fair to say I don’t like Dave Ramsey. I really don’t know anything about him, as a person. But I’m not a big fan of his program, so I guess what I really don’t like is Financial Peace University.

Don’t get me wrong, I think being debt free is a great thing. I’m not debt free, although I hope to be some day. I’m not drowning in credit card debt, either, though. I like to think that I have responsible debt, things like a mortgage, and the remainder of a student loan (fine, and a car loan, but that’s a recent development, and hopefully will be paid off ahead of schedule, and with only .62% interest!). So the debt snowball and debt-free lifestyle make sense to me, even if I don’t think it’s always practical in the real world.

What I can’t stand, though, is his approach to savings. It’s one thing to have some money saved up for an emergency, which, in general, I try to do; it’s another thing altogether to save up three month’s worth of expenses, and then a year’s worth of expenses, and then even more than that, just in case something catastrophic happens.

I get that bad things happen, that people have accidents, disabilities, lose jobs. But I also think it’s completely unbiblical to save up for the “just in case.” As a matter of fact, Matthew 6 spends a lot of time on just this topic. First:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Saving up is all fine and good, but nothing lasts forever, and let’s be honest, there could come a time when our money is useless. Confederate currency used as wallpaper, anyone? Sure, that’s a worst case scenario, but I think that excessive saving gives a false sense of security, that nothing bad can happen to you if you have enough money in the bank, and that’s simply not true.

And how about the worry regarding the “what-ifs” of the future, the fixation on the bad things that *could* happen, that causes people to want to save obsessively? Matthew 6 addresses that, too:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Matthew 6:25-34

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being a good steward, for not spending money you don’t have, for being responsible with what you’re given (because God also calls us to do all that!). But I don’t think that worrying about having enough money “just in case” is how God calls us to live. There’s a lack of faith in that lifestyle.

6 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Like Dave Ramsey

  1. Amanda, I know we haven’t talked in years, but this one little post made me love you that much more. I can’t stand the Dave Ramsey philosophy, especially since some of his ideas simply aren’t good stewardship anyway! His idea of paying down the smallest debts first so that you feel good about yourself rather than paying down the ones with the highest interest rates? What’s THAT about? Screw feeling good about yourself (what is it with our culture and the constant need for patting yourself on your back?) – be responsible and pay off things in the order that will stretch your money the furthest!

    And like you said, it’s good to have some money set aside for things like hot water heater bursts or roof damaged in a storm. But I don’t feel the need to die a multi-millionaire! And while we had a meager (nowhere near 6 months) emergency fund, even that doesn’t cover all emergencies! If we had a fully-funded 6 month plan… Geof was unemployed for 18 months. Through God’s grace and the love of our friends and family, we made it through. Dave would call that crazy – I call that Scriptural.

    So, anyway, thanks for making me feel like I’m not the only “freak” that isn’t a DR fan!

    • You have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say that! I’m sure I ruffled some feathers with my opinions, but I am so tired of hearing how wonderful FPU is! I can’t think of any other Christians I’ve talked to that *haven’t* fallen for his system hook, line, and sinker.

      And, I’m guessing it’s easy to tell people how to handle their money when you’re raking in the dough from book sales, classes, and speaking engagements! 😉

  2. hmmm….the REAL point of the scripture you quoted:

    Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

    is NOT to condemn saving (because really under that logic any savings $1, $10K, and so on), is a lack of faith. The point: trust in God, not money, not men, nothing but God. desire and seek God, not money. but there is nothing wrong with saving in any amount.
    Rather putting faith and trust in anything but God and His Word is unwise. Saving 6 months “just in case” is not a lack of faith or contrary to scripture. the Bible also says a wise man leaves an inheritance to his children and his children’s children (can we do this without saving?, nope). the point of the scripture is to focus on the eternal and everlasting “treasures” salvation, peace, a sincere relationship with the Savior (which is all that matters) and NOT the earthly and temporal “treasures” which goes beyond (but does include) money, as well as human relationships and anything we put in the place of or above God (ex. desiring the love of another person, rather than pursuing an intimate and real relationship with the almighty God and creator of the universe.

  3. ncsu95 says:

    So you don’t like his plan because he says to have an emergency fund of 3-6 months? Do you realize that every single financial advisor worth anything makes the same recommendation? As for the order of paying off debts, he does suggest this so you feel like you made some traction. But you are an adult and can pay off your debts anyway you want, or not at all.

  4. Amanda,

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on Dave Ramsey. Quite honestly, I am shocked that I have been able to find so very little in actual Biblical critique of his methods as I believe much of what he purports is contrary to scripture. It is an attitude of trusting in our money rather than trusting in God. As for financial advisors, I look to such great men of the faith as George Muller, Hudson Taylor, and John Wesley who had a very different view of money that what is popular in our modern society. As Francis Chan recently pointed out, there are always emergencies. We just don’t think they are emergencies because they are not happening to us. We should always be ready to give to any emergency as God provides for us to give.

    Thanks again.

    Matt Aznoe

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