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An Overall View Of Dave Ramsey’s Steps to Financial Success

By Erik Folgate

Love him or hate him, Dave Ramsey gives great common sense advice about how to get out of debt and build wealth.  People that hate him often don’t want to make the sacrifices in their lives that he describes you must make if you want to win with money.  Here’s a great video from him that gives you a good synopsis of what he’s all about and his financial success program.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • http://www.artificialrobot.com Sean

    It seems to me that Dave Ramsey’s message is absolutely right on, although not necessarily for everyone. I think that credit can be addictive and if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t control your spending or your credit, then the scorched earth tactics make sense. All that said, I do think that the rewards programs make it a hard thing to pass up if you are able to control your spending and pay your bill in full every month. In the end, if he’s helping people get out of debt then more power to him. I’m glad he’s helping so many people.

  • Connie

    I’m in the love to hate him camp (or the hate to love him camp). I think his ideas are good and work for most but he is so darn black and white. I’m sure it is just a radio thing that amplifies his personality to kick people in the pants. But I guess the rigidness drives me crazy. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to put money into a good no load growth and income mutual fund, like say Sept 08.

  • Lara

    I’m in the ‘hate him’ camp, but not for the reason you give. To me, his advice is oversimplified to the point where he comes off as a simpleton. He gives a financial formula for life that often ignores unavoidable expenses. He doesn’t bother himself with reality. And I’m not missing the fact that he’s making a small fortune from his ‘christian’ helping of those in financial need. For example, he preaches to spend only on necessities, using an envelope method of budgeting, but sells some type of envelope wallet on his website. So… don’t spend money unless you’re spending it on what I have to sell – what a joke!

  • Karmella

    I don’t know that I hate him, but I sure don’t love him. I do think he has simplified the philosophy too much, and is sometimes unrealistic. But he is a businessman and a radio host, and you don’t sell to the masses by presenting really nuanced ideas.

  • gina

    I actually like his philosophy because I believe that you have to look at his target audience–people who are in horrible debt. These people really do need something simple to follow, because they have had no success in the past to pull themselves out of a mess.

  • Dale Wyrick

    I have Financial Peace University on CD. It is one of the best series for shifting your paradigm. I think that is exactly what people need, to look at money in a different way and see debt for what it is.

  • http://msgiveaway.blogspot.com Matt

    I went through Financial Peace University at my church. I have to say that Dave’s program has definitely gotten us on a much better track financially. We’ve paid off around 50-55% of the debt we had when we started his program. Before we started this, we were on a track to get deeper and deeper in debt. Thankfully, we got started before the economy bottomed out and my wife lost her job. I do have to admit that we’re using Dave’s plan, but twisting it slightly to fit our family’s needs. Some things he teaches just didn’t fit completely into what we’re able to do.

  • Mac

    I really haven’t listened to him until now, but I quickly learned that I am not a fan. He does oversimplify the budgeting process and I don’t even agree with the process that he described. Guess I’m just not a paper & envelope kind of guy; it’s very old school. I’d rather budget using software (like YNAB) and keep my credit cards. There’s no reason to get rid of your credit cards unless you really have a problem with charging too much.

  • Zach Younkin

    I must say that Dave Ramsey does have some very good points but I agree with what Matt is saying above. It is important to take the information that Dave gives you and turn it into your own plan. Everyone’s situation is different, so you must turn it around to fit your needs.

  • jeccica simpson

    Its very simply dont over spend what you dont have. People live champagne style lives on Beer Budgets, I havent heard of Ramsey until now, I think for most people the truth hurts. People are not willing to sacrifice things. My husband has been in construction for 20 years and was laid off, he was making a 6 figure income, now on unemployment, with a wife & 3 kids, we spend within are means nows

  • Karmella

    The core message, if it’s to live withing your means – that’s fine with me! I don’t like how he packages it though.

    But not every approach works for every person, so if it helps some people then I am all for them having access to his ideas.

  • http://www.yourfinances101.com/blog David/Yourfinances101

    I disagree with Mr. Ramsey on two points. You can get out of debt with a lot less sacrifice than he dictates. It is more a change of mindset.

    Second, I disagree with the debt snowball–that is, paying off smaller debts first regardless of the interest rate. That makes no sense.

  • Lara

    David, regarding your first point, I totally agree. (Actually I agree with both points, but will address the first one.) I wonder what happens to Dave Ramsey followers who get out of debt by eating ‘beans and rice, rice and beans’. What does their financial picture look like 5 years after they paid off that last debt? Ramsey promises rainbows and butterflies after all debt has been paid off. He makes folks think they’ll have so much money available to them that they’ll be living like kings. For the vast majority of folks, that isn’t the case. So what happens when they’ve sacrificed so severely and have paid off their debt, and find that they still can’t live extravagantly?

    The thought of crash dieters comes to mind. Those who go on a very strict diet, reach their target weight, then start eating ‘normally’ again. They put the weight back on. Likewise, I wonder how many Ramsey followers end up right back in debt because they sacrificed so much financially to get out of debt, then afterward go on a spending binge, or just back to their normal spending pattern. The people who have been on Ramsey’s call-in show that have been out of debt for at least 10 years didn’t get there due to Ramsey’s methods. I’d like to hear from the ones that did reach their debt free goal via Ramsey’s plan, and what their finances look like 5-10 years later.

  • scott

    It seems people are really missing Dave’s big point, your debt can end up controlling you. The scary part is, many people don’t notice, care, or think they can live differently. We always use credit month to month for everyday expenses, groceries, etc. We always paid them off in full, redeeming for points or cashback, never paid a cent in interest or fees. Meanwhile though, we had two car payments and 20k in student loans, coz we figured “that’s how it is”. After switching to cash envelopes and stickin to it, we had an immediate turn around. It isn’t the same, cash and paying off monthly credit cards. Our turn around using cash found us more cash than the credit card rewards would in an entire year. There truly is an emotional attachment to cash, we spend less, period. We still use an AMX for gas, I refuse to budget for gas. We use what we use in a month. Here we are, a year later, no car payments and the student loans will be gone in 3 months. We are both 29 and don’t make 6 figures. We have, though, changed our paradigm about money. And no, we won’t go on a spending binge and go back to our old ways as another commenter posted. We have learned discipline. For that amount of impact, I would pay him another $100 for the FPU class any day. Yes, he has a business. Why get mad at him for getting rich, should he help others for free? Should doctors? What about wall street investors who caused this mess we’re in (well, along with the govt… but that’s another thread…) Dave isn’t a speck on the radar compared to the scum on wall street. Anyway, still people will not like him, coz they are so stuck in their ways. That’s OK, I like Glenn Beck, too (again another thread…)

    • Karmella

      I think, though, that’s it’s possible to have the same change of heart/philosophy whether you use cash in an envelope or responsibly use credit cards. The key is that you changed how you wanted to live.

  • http://www.moneymakingsense.com Ken

    While some of his views are extreme, I think his strong stance toward debt can help many people. Getting out of debt is no easy task. If someone doesn’t really want it, you can’t make them do it. While his plan isn’t the only plan out there, I can’t find one better myself.

  • Lara

    Scott, if this is what works for you and your wife, that’s great. But it hasn’t addressed the core problem. If you need to use cash in order to control your spending, that indicates you haven’t reconciled your income with your wants/needs in the sense of a total understanding. But many folks don’t need the ‘cash only’ method to keep their spending in line with their income.

    I am not ‘mad’ at Ramsey for making money from the already financially distressed. But I don’t buy the christian angle he attaches to his business. It is simply not christian behavior to profit from the already needy.

  • scott

    Lara, yes the core “problem” was addressed. Most people don’t tell their money where to go, they look at where it went. Using a cash based system, from beginning of the month is entirely different than swiping a card to pay for something and seeing how much was spent at the end of the month. Believe me, I fought tooth and nail against giving up the credit cards, but it works. If you listen to Dave’s teaching, it is ALL about addressing the problem, spending more than you make. Without that, nothing will change.

    Clearly, you don’t know his stance on GIVING. During a given week, he gives away dozens of books, FPU classes, and memberships to his web-based tutorials/software. Thousands of dollars in any given week. Again, what about doctors, lawyers, teachers? Should they all work for free, afterall, they all have needy clients (financially, socially, emotionally, etc…) By the way, there are Christian doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc… An honorable Christian shows his faith through his heart, a big part of which is giving. Dave is changing lives, although a big rough and tough sometimes, but brutally honest.

  • Lara

    Scott, the core problem for an over-spender is usually, but not always, psychological in nature, not just the inability to keep track of their money.

    As for doctors, lawyers, and teachers giving away their wares, I can’t speak for lawyers and teachers, but I do work for free when need be. Most of my colleagues do as well. I’ve done 2-3 week missionary work where I treat patients and fund my own trip.

    • scott

      I made two points there. Providing a service for a profit, like financial counseling, medicine, law, etc. Doctors don’t break even, or even practice for free. Nor do lawyers, teachers, etc. That’s the point about Dave making a profit from helping others, Christian or not. I will retire from this page now, we don’t see eye to eye, and that’s OK. I would prefer to not continue going back and forth.

  • Babystep 3 in WA

    Well I would say if Dave’s plan doesn’t work then most of the nay sayers are in debt up to their eyeballs and drive a leased BMW. how many have paid cash for a new car? Dave gives some common sense plans for living a debt free lifestyle. How can you fault him? Oh and you don’t even have to buy his envelopes just use white ones if you like…. For you nay sayers keep charging away and using those rewards points……I will live like no one so today and later I can really live like no else….
    Unfortunately the goverment will probably tax away my hard work…to pay for all you nay sayers out there who aren’t ready for retirement…

  • http://www.sports-picks.biz/ alsters

    Most people don’t tell their money where to go, they look at where it went. Using a cash based system, from beginning of the month is entirely different than swiping a card to pay for something and seeing how much was spent at the end of the month. Believe me, I fought tooth and nail against giving up the credit cards, but it works. If you listen to Dave’s teaching, it is ALL about addressing the problem, spending more than you make. Without that, nothing will change. sports picks

    • http://madsaver.com Mac

      True, but the source of everyone’s money problems do not lie in their credit cards. Some people may be very good with their credit cards and pay them off each month, but have money problems elsewhere. That’s why I wasn’t too impressed by his video…he generalizes everyone’s situation and makes it sound like there is just one way to rid ourselves of debt.

  • DG

    I like his ideas but they are a bit extreme for me but it’s all common sense so shouldn’t be that tough

  • Kristie

    Me and my husband are Dave Ramsey followers (my husband is a devote follower and reads all his articles and listens to him quite often). We have decreased out debt in half over the last 6 months (15,000!) thanks to the Dave Ramsey plan. As my husband and Dave Ramsey say “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else” You get used to the lifestyle of putting your money towards your debt and not having a lot extra. We like Dave’s way of thinking!

  • Hopper

    I think Dave’s plan works well for people who allow themselves to be controlled by debt instead of actively managing their finances. I was in this boat just two short months ago. I had no idea where my money went, how much I owed or what my credit score was. Dave’s plan offered a clear and easy path to get out of debt. All it took was sacrifice. However, after spending the last eight weeks reading thousands of blog posts and lots of books, I realized his may not the best plan for me or my family.

    Now I follow my own “Toddler Steps” Still pretty basic stuff, I’m just not in diapers anymore!

  • JuliaA

    my impressions of him are like lara’s comment above–i was turned off by his website because it immediately had a popup prompting you to subsribe to a newsletter, buy his book, buy his stuff.

    his ideas, though possibly a bit oversimplified, do make sense. i can understand how following strict guidelines can really help a person learn the difference between wants and real needs. but his personality and self-promotional tendencies are just a bit much for my preference.

  • christa

    i love my baby daddy…

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