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.