Books, Contemp Culture, Global, Ramblings

3 Things I DON’T Like About Dave Ramsey (The Money Guy)

As I said the other day, last weekend I read The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by financial guru Dave Ramsey. Two days ago I posted three things I like about Dave Ramsey. Today, three things I DON’T like about Dave Ramsey:

Qualification: Read my first post if you haven’t…because I do like quite a bit of Ramsey’s approach. And, the things I like or don’t like are not about Dave Ramsey as a person. I know nothing about him as a person, just the ideas as presented in the book I read and his website.

(1) Ramsey sees giving and generosity as something to do from a position of SECURITY rather than a posture of SUBMISSION. Problem is, most people never feel secure and satisfied with their finances…meaning most people will never be generous in their giving. I appreciate that Ramsey sees giving as one of the three things to do once you have wealth (along with fun and earning more money), but Jesus’ call to total discipleship and submission in the area of finances is not just directed at people who have an emergency savings account and an investment portfolio. To “submit to God” in finances is to recognize that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” making giving and generosity a much higher priority.

Waiting to be generous until you feel like you have “enough” will leave a hungry world unfed, kids unclothed, villages thirsty, diseases uncured, and the waiting wealthy enslaved to their investment accounts.

(2) Ramsey understands money and finances to be almost exclusively personal and private matters. Yes, you must work with your spouse. Yes, you can talk to an investment team…but that’s about it, from what I gathered. In the last post, I said that budgeting financially has been one of the best practices that we’ve done in our marriage. The second best thing we’ve done is to work through our budget and finances in community and relationship. We have a group of people who we practice “open finances” with. They know what kind of money we have where, what we receive as income, what we are doing with it, etc. They don’t have power over how we spend our money or access to our bank account, but we seek their guidance, input, and wisdom in big and small decisions we make about how best to be people of integrity and character with our money.

It’s okay for some things to be private, but I am not convinced that finances are one of them.

(3) He operates uncritically from a first world/capitalistic perspective seeing money as everyone’s main means to happiness and security. This may rub some people the wrong way, but I think Ramsey’s financial perspective could be helped by a more global perspective. He’s thoroughly entrenched in American capitalism. I’m not saying America or capitalism is the devil (I can save that for another post), but I do think it’s important to realize the (a) uniqueness of the American situation and (b) the unfortunate realities of the American situation. Ramsey knows America is not perfect – he takes frequent shots at the government’s inability to do much of anything – but he doesn’t seem to take the same critical eye towards the American capitalistic system. There’s been lots of debate, in Christian circles and otherwise, about the place of wealth and affluence (see Schneider’s The Good of Affluence for a provocative theological perspective on wealth, capitalism, etc.) and…

I just wish that there was a bit more willingness to recognize that the world we live in is, possibly, one in which our highest priority (or our only priority) should NOT (or NEED not) be ourselves, our retirement, and our kid’s education.

To be clear, I don’t hate Dave Ramsey or think that his principles are terrible. Like I said earlier, I agree with a lot of his assumptions and conclusions. I do think there is some push back needed, though, particularly on the areas listed above particularly as churches across the country sign everyone and their brother up for a Financial Peace seminar without thinking about modifications that might be necessary to some of Ramsey’s financial philosophy.

Push back, though, and let me know what you really think.


5 thoughts on “3 Things I DON’T Like About Dave Ramsey (The Money Guy)

  1. TG says:

    Having not read the book- I am not though unaware of many Ramseyites….I appreciate your insightful commentary. I have been a bit concerned with many who attempt the impossible – to serve 2 masters– and after failing – serve $$. My take on most everything is that if/when we are being transformed by being actual disciples (literally changed) — this will result in we being (super) naturally more like Him and thus handling $$$, marriage, relationships etc…increasingly as He would.


  2. chris says:

    Your number 1 is incorrect. If you listen to Dave Ramsey in more than just sound bites and quick quips, he pushes and encourages Tithing (which is a form of giving) very very strongly. He proposes Tithing regardless of one’s financial situation. But he also recognizes and encourages the fact that God calls on you to take care of yourself, because if you aren’t taking care of “you” then you are essentially not taking care of God’s property. I have listend to Daver Ramsey for 10 years and he has never proposed to a caller to stop giving in the form of tithes and get out of debt instead of tithing! Not once. But if you are giving all your money to others and not eating or giving all of your money or worldly possessions away and leaving yourself in need, then you arent following God’s principles!

    Your number 2 is false…. How can Dave Ramsey encourage keeping your finances and money private when he has callers call in to a show with millions of listeners? Your premise here is a stretch. He says “money is personal” but Dave, myself, and you – all know that what he is referring to is that “EVERYONE’S MONEY SITUATIONIS DIFFERENT AND NO TWO MONEY SITUATIONS ARE THE SAME”! That is what he means when he proclaims that money is personal. You completely misconstrued his statement here.


    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for the comment and pushback. Having listened to Dave Ramsey’s show only a few times and read only one of his books, I will acknowledge that you may have a better perspective on his overall outlook on finances, especially as it relates to the items I mentioned in my post. That said, I was responding only to the book of his which I was reviewing. I don’t doubt that Ramsey believes in tithing, but I don’t believe he calls people to radical generosity and sacrifice (at least not until you have enough money for yourself, at which point he argues it becomes ‘fun’ to give away money). That’s the point I was making with (1).

      Regarding (2), I’m not sure I “completely misconstrued his statement.” I imagine that if you asked him who should know about a family’s financial situation, he’d probably say that the family (the adults) and a financial adviser/banker/etc. I doubt he’d say that you should “open your books” to a group of friends or colleagues as a regular practice of submission to community. I believe him and take him at his word when he says he believes that money is personal, but that also means he does not believe that money is, at least in some respect, communal, which was the point I was arguing.

      thanks for stopping by!



  3. chris says:

    Your number 3 is odd, given the fact that you yourself are writing on a computer and “fully utilizing” the capitalistic model as you go to work in a capitalistic society, establish or interact with your famiy, eat at restaraunts, go to college/school, etc etc. Dave Ramsey lives in a capitalistic society and owns/runs a multi million dollar business…are you really expecting him to take a “middle eastern” view of money, or a “Far East” view of money? He takes a biblical view of money and focuses in on it in a capitalistic prism, which is his choice and obviously from his perspective that he is comfortable with sharing. He runs a “for profit” business. Making money and captialism is not evil spirited, which it sounds like you believe, yet you earn money on a daily basis and you may even own your own business, both of which are capitalism, to an extent!

    All of your premises are STRETCHES, and they show that, either you havent really listened to Dave Ramsey very much, or that you just felt compelled to write a base-less article. You misinterpret and twist what he says. lol.

    Thanks. Have a Blessed Day

    Dave is fine. He has good principles. But


    • As I said, I haven’t listened to Dave Ramsey very much. I read one of his books and wrote two blog posts (before I wrote a few critiques of his money philosophy, I wrote 3 things I like about Dave Ramsey – not sure if you saw that post?).

      I’m not sure you heard what I was saying in point #3. I was not arguing against capitalism. I was saying that I wish Dave Ramsey would incorporate some understanding of global financial systems/histories/tragedies in his “total money makeover.”

      Really, I guess I don’t care if Dave Ramsey changes anything. As you say, he runs a business and can do whatever he wants. What I do care about is churches that adopt Dave Ramsey money classes without giving any consideration to a more holistic scriptural approach to finances. I’d argue the three things I mentioned above should be present in any church/faith-based conversations about finances, and I don’t think Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover even comes close to touching on any of them.

      thanks again for the pushback!


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