Being an Oprah fan–yeah, I admit it!–I’ve always been more into Suze Orman, and worshiped like it was my bible because hey, I was young, fabulous and broke!
But after seeing Dave Ramsey splashed about everywhere, I thought, maybe he’s the new best thing? I need to get up on his grill, pronto! So I checked out his book from the local library–I don’t remember which one, they all sound the same–and started reading.
And every night, before bed, I would dread seeing that book on my bedside table. It became a chore…he sounded so pretentious…the type was so big…and he spoke to me like I was a naughty little child who had just stolen a 5 cent piece of candy and he was slapping me on the hand. You naughty little girl, how dare you think you can use credit cards and get away with it!
I know I got through at least a third of the book and never once did I feel like I read something of substance. I kept waiting for the damn book to start. Ok, tell me what I need to do Mr. Ramsey! Ohhh…give up my life and live like a pauper so that I can get rid of all the student loan debt, my car loan, and credit card debt…But after those how-ever-many years, it takes to pay it off, I can actually live my life? Awesome!
Now, don’t stone me. It’s not like I’m standing at the VMA’s and telling Taylor Swift her video sucked.
I get that some people who are living way beyond their means need a serious reality check in how they can appropriately live within their means. And I understand that a lot of people, especially in this economic climate, are having to shove a strong dose of reality down their throats and undo all the bad spending habits they’ve acquired since being fooled into believing they could have the American Dream for the fantabulous prize of 10% interest for the rest of their lives.
Maybe if I had been 10 years older, I would have been one of those people. But I’m not.
I’m grateful that while we do have to make some sacrifices, we aren’t at the point that we worry about how we’re going to eat. And maybe Mr. Ramsey would look at my budget and say “You can be completely debt free in TWO years if you forgo so-and-so and this-and-this, etc. etc, and if you decide to never have children, you can build your retirement account by THIS much…”
I understand not wanting to be in debt. I understand wanting to save for retirement. I get all that. But what’s the point of saving and living like a pauper if I’m only going to be old when I get to enjoy it?
What good will it do me to have $5 million dollars when I’m 80 if I’ll be using a walker to get around and wearing diapers? I have a 401K and get the full company match. I plan on opening ROTH IRAs for Eric and I next year. I understand the importance of being secure for retirement (especially considering our Social Security system…but that’s another post).
But I think we have to find a balance. When is “enough” enough? We’ve already learned what overspending does to us, what about over saving? What about focusing so much on being completely debt-free that you start to forgo living life? Yeah, maybe I would get out of debt faster if we didn’t buy so-and-so or go on vacation or get rid of our dog, who is a budget-sucker like no other…
And I get his train of thought when he says we need to ‘save’ money to pay for college and before we buy a car so we can pay for it in full. But let’s face it–most of America’s parents can’t pay $80,000 for four years of college. So we graduate college, and we start in debt to begin with.And then we start at the bottom of the food chain and work ourselves up to medium-entry level jobs. And then we also need a car to get to work. And maybe you don’t buy the Accord but you settle for the Civic…used…and you still are scraping by month to month.
I just don’t think he’s very realistic.
I’m fine living with my car loan and student loans a little bit longer if it means I get to take vacations and eat at restaurants more than once every six months. Does this make me a bad person?
I haven’t jumped on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon because of a) I think he’s condescending b) I think I can manage my finances better than he can and c) I just don’t like him.
Okay, by way of a side note, if you want to learn about your personal finances and don’t want to deal with Dave Ramsey condescending to you, check out Eric Tyson’s Personal Finance for Dummies. It is a no-nonsense bread and butter approach to personal finance – just without the moralizing. The book is always popular and sells for something like 14 bucks. Get it on Amazon or go to your local public library.
Finally, tell me why I’m wrong–what do you think of Dave Ramsey?