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Dave Ramsey - Sound advice or Whackjob?

BeltaineBeltaine XB1M13Registered User regular
edited May 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
Local radio station started carrying this guy and I've listened to bits and pieces of his schtick.

Thing is, I'd really like to cut out most, if not all, of my current debt. I tend to be impatient about it, though and want to try and knock it down as quickly as possible.

I just don't know if I can go to the extreme he keeps talking about.

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Posts

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2011
    If only the rest of us had any idea what you were talking about

    but alas

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    redx
  • BeltaineBeltaine XB1M13Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Propaganda can be found here

    To me, it looks like the guy just wants to sell crap to desperate people. But I've heard lots of people swear by him.

    Basically, his get out of debt shtick is to give up everything frivolous, Cable TV, Internet, restaraunts, movies etc...

    He also encourages selling off any vehicles you're paying a loan for, even at a small loss, and only driving a vehicle you have paid for in cash. i.e. go buy a POS for $500 and drive it as long as it will run.

    All in order to have the extra money to pay off everything you owe.


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  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    I agree that he's a bit too out there. For example, I've almost paid off both of my cars, so why would I trade-in for junkers?

    About the only useful tip is the snowball effect: pay down your highest interest shit while making the minimum monthlies on everything else, then once that debt is paid off then roll over that amount in to new highest interest debt. Repeat until debt free. You never increase your disposable income until you complete paying off the debt and then, because you are used to going without the money you used to waste on interest you put it all into interest bearing investments.

    It's a great idea that I'm working on myself right now, but I'm not going nearly as far as he would advise so I won't get out of debt quite as fast (maybe). Then again, I didn't pay him for a course either, so I did save myself that chunk of change.

  • Lord PalingtonLord Palington Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    In my experience, he has a good idea about personal finance (his snowball effect to eliminate debt from smallest to biggest as fast as possible), but I wouldn't pay much attention when he talks about the macro. He talks a lot about running a country's finances like it was a single household.

    Try and listen on Fridays, he has people call in with their stories of getting out of debt and what they had to do. It's nice to hear people that have come out the other side, nice bit of hope for your lunch hour.

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  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I think his basic message is good (debt is bad, get out of debt as fast as you can) but he really oversimplifies, because most of his audience are people who can't understand the math of compound interest at all.

    That said, he seems to put a moralistic tone on it that I really hate. He always tells people that it's bad morally to declare bankruptcy, and that's just bullshit. Bankruptcy is a business decision- sometimes it's the right thing to do. You don't have any moral obligation to help out the credit card companies.

  • projectmayhemprojectmayhem Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Ramsey. Sound advice for the above middle class.

  • TexiKenTexiKen it's a one way street, whichever way I go Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Ramsey doesn't say sell/trade-in cars for junkers if you almost have them paid off, he just says don't go into debt for anything. His advice on junker cars is meant to only be for while you're getting out of debt.

    I like the show, it's one of the few talk radio programs I listen to. I mean, I'm still going to have a credit card instead of a debit card, but the other advice is pretty good and he does try and simplify it for people to understand who really don't pay attention to their finances. And he's not really a whackjob, he doesn't say buy gold, or food storage. He does have a program he sells to get out of debt but he never says to buy it on the show, he usually gives it away for free. And while he's a big Christian he's not saying the only way you'll be debt free is if you give yourself over to God. And like Palington said it's nice to hear people on Fridays say they're debt free.

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  • Lord PalingtonLord Palington Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    He definitely moralizes, but if a caller doesn't bring up religion he won't either.

    He's not perfect, and I doubt you need the classes, but his basic ideas seem about right.

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  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    If you compare his ideas to the advice from other financial planners (like the occasional guest on my local NPR station), then it's pretty obvious that Dave's basically got it right, because the advice is nearly identical. He just pushes it a bit further and encourages people to make a bit more sacrifice to get out of debt than most advisers would attempt. Frankly I don't think that's a bad thing.

    In addition, one of his Friday shows was my inspiration to get serious about getting out of debt, so thanks to him for that!

  • saint2esaint2e Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    From what exposure I've had to his advice/show, he seems pretty sound with his advice.

    I would definitely not label him a whackjob.

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  • SolandraSolandra Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I don't think he's a whack job, but I would say he's a fanatic, and he's gotten very wealthy selling his books, online classes, etc. He's also only one of several similar processes out there. You can prioritize by % of interest (highest to lowest) but you can also prioritize by balance (do lowest to highest) and snowball the payments that way.

    Best of luck!

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    I think his basic message is good (debt is bad, get out of debt as fast as you can) but he really oversimplifies, because most of his audience are people who can't understand the math of compound interest at all.

    That said, he seems to put a moralistic tone on it that I really hate. He always tells people that it's bad morally to declare bankruptcy, and that's just bullshit. Bankruptcy is a business decision- sometimes it's the right thing to do. You don't have any moral obligation to help out the credit card companies.

    Yeah pretty much.

    Simplification isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially with debt. People tend to rationalize their faults - if they have a problem with spending, they will overthink their situation and justify their own bad decisions. So sometimes hitting somebody with a stick and yelling "NO! PAY OFF YOUR DAMN DEBT!" is a good thing.
    TexiKen wrote: »
    Ramsey doesn't say sell/trade-in cars for junkers if you almost have them paid off, he just says don't go into debt for anything. His advice on junker cars is meant to only be for while you're getting out of debt.

    That's not necessarily good advice. If the interest rate on a car loan is less than the interest rate on your credit card debt (and it usually is much better) then you're better off getting the car loan and using your spare cash to pay off your credit card.

    In fact, about six years ago, my roommate/best-friend got into a wreck and they totaled her car. She had shitty credit; I had okay credit but I also had a huge credit card bill with a fuck-me-in-the-ass interest rate that I was struggling to pay off.

    So she gave me the insurance payout, I paid off the double-digit interest credit card, and then got a car loan with a 3% interest rate. She drove the car, I paid the bills, and it was basically a sly way of refinancing my credit.

    I absolutely do not regret that decision.

    The catch is that you have to actually use your cash to pay off your credit card debt. What a lot of people might do is get the car loan, but continue to pay the minimums on their credit card and the car loan. If you do that, haven't replaced awful debt with not-so-bad debt, you've just piled more debt on yourself.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Honestly, if you have high-interest debt, and you have enough cash laying around to buy a junker that isn't going to fall apart the week after you get it, why haven't you used that cash to pay off your credit card yet?

    I guess maybe you can find an okay car for $1000 or so somewhere, maybe, if you're lucky and you live in an area with a good used car market.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • cloudeaglecloudeagle Zhu-Li, do the thing! Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    I think his basic message is good (debt is bad, get out of debt as fast as you can) but he really oversimplifies, because most of his audience are people who can't understand the math of compound interest at all.

    That said, he seems to put a moralistic tone on it that I really hate. He always tells people that it's bad morally to declare bankruptcy, and that's just bullshit. Bankruptcy is a business decision- sometimes it's the right thing to do. You don't have any moral obligation to help out the credit card companies.

    Pretty much.

    Personally, I have trouble reconciling his reasonably common-sense "don't spend money you have on frivolous crap" with his willingness to sell loads and loads and loads and LOADS of crap to people. Seriously, it goes beyond a couple of books.

    http://www.daveramsey.com/store/index.ep

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  • BeltaineBeltaine XB1M13Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I could ask around and find a _driveable_ car for $500 or less in 24 hours.

    I just don't think giving up a reliable vehicle I'm upside down on in favor of a not-gonna-be reliable vehicle so I can save a car payment every month is worth it.

    I know it seems like I'm dwelling on this one part, but after running through the calculator on his website, I'm looking at debt payoff taking nearly 5 years. I just don't think I can keep up that kind of commitment for that length of time without losing my mind.


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  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I moved up to Nashville and live right by the Financial Peace plaza where his show is. This dude is a GOD here. They use his Financial Peace book in high school classes (which I do admire, because it starts kids of early learning about debt, which is something I didn't have) and colleges here.

    I agree with his small term and personal finance stuff and a lot of it has actually helped me personally, but his moral positions on bankruptcy and his big picture stuff is not something I subscribe to.

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  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    It DOES make a shit ton of sense to avoid car payments, though - as soon as you buy a car it's worth substantially less, so you're always upside down and tied to it. If you can get ahead of your credit problems and buy in cash or put down a substantial partion, you've got a lot more flexibility. You can also often just flat out get the car cheaper that way too. You can also follow the long tradition of driving your car into the fucking ground before replacing it once it IS paid off.

    tl;dr - avoiding car payments is good advice. Doing it by taking a loss on your current vehicle to buy a clunker is not.

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  • BeltaineBeltaine XB1M13Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I live just 90 minutes down I-40 from you, and you're exactly right.

    The religious slant is a turn off, but there's a good portion of the population, especially around here, that don't or won't make any decisions for themselves without "praying" about it. I've even heard of people driving to different parts of the state to file bankruptcy just so their friends and neighbors wouldn't find out.


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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Very few dealerships give a shit if you're financing. They get the money from the bank immediately, they're not going to give you a break just because you're paying cash. That's a pervasive myth.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    Very few dealerships give a shit if you're financing. They get the money from the bank immediately, they're not going to give you a break just because you're paying cash. That's a pervasive myth.

    Truth'd.... Kind of

    If they're real bastards and you talk about paying cash up front there's a good chance you might get hit with some bullshit fees and add ons

    However, even the ones that offer financing from the bank (the majority) have in house financing through said preferred bank and there's a lot of commission to be had there, so they're more likely to get you to finance.

    In short, this is correct, they don't give a shit about you paying cash, but they do generally give a shit if you're financing because the sales team and finance manager make bonuses off of that

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    Very few dealerships give a shit if you're financing. They get the money from the bank immediately, they're not going to give you a break just because you're paying cash. That's a pervasive myth.

    Truth'd.... Kind of

    If they're real bastards and you talk about paying cash up front there's a good chance you might get hit with some bullshit fees and add ons

    However, even the ones that offer financing from the bank (the majority) have in house financing through said preferred bank and there's a lot of commission to be had there, so they're more likely to get you to finance.

    In short, this is correct, they don't give a shit about you paying cash, but they do generally give a shit if you're financing because the sales team and finance manager make bonuses off of that

    That's a good point. Financing also allows them to upsell you gap insurance or other commissioned add-ons.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Very few dealerships give a shit if you're financing. They get the money from the bank immediately, they're not going to give you a break just because you're paying cash. That's a pervasive myth.

    Truth'd.... Kind of

    If they're real bastards and you talk about paying cash up front there's a good chance you might get hit with some bullshit fees and add ons

    However, even the ones that offer financing from the bank (the majority) have in house financing through said preferred bank and there's a lot of commission to be had there, so they're more likely to get you to finance.

    In short, this is correct, they don't give a shit about you paying cash, but they do generally give a shit if you're financing because the sales team and finance manager make bonuses off of that

    That's a good point. Financing also allows them to upsell you gap insurance or other commissioned add-ons.

    Dell used to be, and still is, a real con artist about that. They put the price for everything, and then next to it they put "or just $3 a month if you finance!" so it's like... "dude, I could get a dell, and for an extra $60 a month I could get a flat panel tv, xbox 360, and a projector?! SWEET!"

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  • DivideByZeroDivideByZero Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    JihadJesus wrote: »
    You can also follow the long tradition of driving your car into the fucking ground before replacing it once it IS paid off.

    For real. I can't get over the people I know who finance a car for 5-6 years, and on the day its paid off drive to a dealership and trade it in for another new car. If it's that "yeee, new car!" feeling you're chasing, why not just lease?

    I just paid off a car last year (about 8 months early) and I am so looking forward to driving it into the ground over the next 6-8 years.

  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm planning to get a car once this one is paid off, but only because I'm replacing my 19mpg truck with a 35mpg used civic or corolla or something, and I'll probably pay cash for that.

    I figure it's a smart move

    Here's what I do...
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  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    JihadJesus wrote: »
    You can also follow the long tradition of driving your car into the fucking ground before replacing it once it IS paid off.

    For real. I can't get over the people I know who finance a car for 5-6 years, and on the day its paid off drive to a dealership and trade it in for another new car. If it's that "yeee, new car!" feeling you're chasing, why not just lease?

    I just paid off a car last year (about 8 months early) and I am so looking forward to driving it into the ground over the next 6-8 years.

    Huh. My dad bought a new truck the year I was born, a little 4 cylinder Toyota truck. It was my first car; I don't think that thing cost him more than $150 a year to keep running after he paid for it.

    If I hadn't [tiny]totalled it :([/tiny] before I turned 17 I'd probably still be driving that thing.

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  • PreacherPreacher Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Well from experience I do know that buying a car over 5 years gave me a great credit rating, which let me go into more debt buying a condo.

    That's one thing a lot of anti debt fanatics miss out on, no credit is often worse than bad credit and there are times you do want to have some credit.

  • DivideByZeroDivideByZero Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Exactly.

    "Oh I bought my car and house with cash, I've never had a credit card, Debt Free 4 Lyfe!"

    Then you suddenly rack up 500k in medical bills and try to take a mortgage out on that home, good luck with that!

  • Evil_ReaverEvil_Reaver Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    My wife and I mostly do the cash budget he talks about, which has helped with saving money and paying off debts. We paid off our credit card last month, which is a cool feeling because we don't have to burn that money every month paying down the debt.

    I think he's a bit too extreme on his big picture ideas, like selling your car and using all of your savings to pay off debts, but his budgeting stuff is certainly manageable.

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  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Preacher wrote: »
    Well from experience I do know that buying a car over 5 years gave me a great credit rating, which let me go into more debt buying a condo.

    That's one thing a lot of anti debt fanatics miss out on, no credit is often worse than bad credit and there are times you do want to have some credit.

    You can gain credit without going into debt. Having a credit card, using it, and paying it off every month will do.

  • WillyGilliganWillyGilligan Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I actually have his Financial Peace class. We're pretty happy with it; got out of debt, saving more so we don't have to borrow later, and getting towards investments beyond IRA/TSP. A lot of the stuff in it is the same stuff he covers on his free show, you're basically paying for the collection, organization and presentation of the information. He also gives away materials and tickets to his live appearances to callers a lot of the time.

    He peppers the whole thing with Bible quotes, so that might turn some people off. I'm not religious, so I just looked at it as proof that a lot of what he's talking about are simple ideas that we've forgotten rather than some slick new flim-flam. He's also pretty big on the moral dimension of money, which I get is a hard sell. Bankruptcy is bad because most of the time it is you getting yourself into massive trouble by over-borrowing and just dropping the problem in someone else's lap. He also encourages charitable giving. It's about defining your relationship with money and improving yourself to increase your wealth.

    The target audience are people who aren't financially literate and have bad habits. It's all about simple solutions and developing good habits.
    "Oh I bought my car and house with cash, I've never had a credit card, Debt Free 4 Lyfe!"

    Then you suddenly rack up 500k in medical bills and try to take a mortgage out on that home, good luck with that!

    He also talks about having good insurance (in FPU there's a whole lesson on it) and an emergency fund. From listening to him the last couple of months, I think his advice would be to work with the hospital directly on a payment plan for anything not covered by insurance (or where your insurance sucks) rather than getting a mortgage. There's even a lesson on how to deal with collection agencies, some of the laws that govern them and how to negotiate with them.

  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited May 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    About the only useful tip is the snowball effect: pay down your highest interest shit while making the minimum monthlies on everything else, then once that debt is paid off then roll over that amount in to new highest interest debt. Repeat until debt free. You never increase your disposable income until you complete paying off the debt and then, because you are used to going without the money you used to waste on interest you put it all into interest bearing investments.
    Is that really good advice? Seems way too over-simplified when it should depend on your specific debt load.

    For myself, I have a student loan (5.5%) and a student line of credit (4%) - according to this I should only pay off the student loan and ignore the line of credit (except for minimal payments). I don't think the math works out (in terms of paying less interest).

    EDIT: it doesn't.

    I currently split my payments about 60% student loan, 40% line of credit (because the latter is smaller, and has the lower interest rate). They will both be paid off in 3 years, 4 months.

    If I only paid the monthly interest on the line of credit, and put what was left towards the student loan until it was paid off, then putting it all towards the line of credit - per Ramsey's advice - it would take an extra 5 months and $250.

    Of course, it's sound advice if we're talking about a credit card with a much higher interest rate - just saying that it's too simplistic to apply in all situations.

    Now I want to figure out the optimal way to split my weekly payments . . . . .

  • HedgethornHedgethorn Associate Professor of Historical Hobby Horses In the Lions' DenRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Andrew_Jay wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    About the only useful tip is the snowball effect: pay down your highest interest shit while making the minimum monthlies on everything else, then once that debt is paid off then roll over that amount in to new highest interest debt. Repeat until debt free. You never increase your disposable income until you complete paying off the debt and then, because you are used to going without the money you used to waste on interest you put it all into interest bearing investments.
    Is that really good advice? Seems way too over-simplified when it should depend on your specific debt load.

    For myself, I have a student loan (5.5%) and a student line of credit (4%) - according to this I should only pay off the student loan and ignore the line of credit (except for minimal payments). I don't think the math works out (in terms of paying less interest).

    It doesn't always make sense when the interest on one loan is tax deductible, but otherwise paying off the highest interest loan first will always minimize total interest paid.

  • WillyGilliganWillyGilligan Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Ramsey's method is actually to get the smallest balance first. It doesn't always work mathematically, but it's designed around the idea that if you have enough debt to need the snowball, you probably also need some tangible progress to maintain the required effort. Suze Orman advocates the 'highest interest first' method. Debt loss is like weight loss. Not every plan is optimal for every person, but having any plan is better than no plan most of the time.

  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Boston, MARegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I don't think the guy is any more off base than any financial 'guru'. He gives honest, straight forward advice. His point is to get out of debt, particularly debt that is crippling your financial future, you may have to make some adjustments.

    If you were in serious debt, for whatever reason, then foregoing a television plan could save you $720 a year. Losing internet, even more. If you could give up eating out, all together - well for me that would be over one thousand dollars a year. It certainly adds up.

    Some of the stuff he brings up about 'cash is king' and how you can bargain down sales people by saying you'll pay in cash I think is a generational thing that really isn't as pervasive today as it was 60 years ago.

    I will say, that hearing some of his stuff has turned me onto bargaining all together. I purchased a flat screen from Best Buy for 600 dollars off the floor model because I brought in the amazon.com page that had the same model for a cheaper price. I also negotiated my brand new car purchase for $1200 less because I used edmunds.com to find a dealership 75 miles away that had a cheaper price. There is a lot more wiggle room for some purchases than people give business credit for and certainly consumers have more power as well.

    So, I don't know - he's not a whackjob. He's saying pretty much the same thing as any other financial persona such as Suze Ormann. And Suze is a god damn baller, I love that woman.

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  • VoodooVVoodooV Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    My aunt swears by the guy. She uses that envelope method of his. She gave me one of his books to read, (I was in small debt at the time paying back college loans and a couple credit cards)

    To be honest, I never got past the forward due to the religious slant.

    Getting out of debt is not THAT hard. It just takes time. Now sure, I made some pretty dumb decisions that lead to me being in debt in the first place, but that's what college life is about. Making dumb mistakes and learning from them.

    Like others have said, he's got a method, but as usual, it doesn't work for everyone. Whoever said that getting out of debt was like weight loss is dead on and Ramsey is just a fad diet like anything else.

    You don't need Ramsey to get out of debt. You just need a plan, some patience and a lot of discipline. Ramsey puts the religious slant on it so he gets an instant audience even though faith and finances have scant little to do with each other.

  • AthenorAthenor Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    After a few people at work took the Financial Peace classes, we all started talking and decided to go through the class as a company. We're about to hit Week 3 (the snowball) after a couple weeks delay due to people being unable to attend.

    While the bible stuff does get really annoying, he does have a showmanship quality about him that all good pied pipers do. But on top of that, the dude has some stories that are very much of the "Oh man I don't want to be in that position!" variety. I also think he scarred his kids.

    I've known about the debt snowball thanks to Penny Arcade, but even after watching CNBC off and on for a couple years I couldn't begin to explain a CD or a mutual fund, or where to begin investing. That's the main reason I'm in the class, for some of the financial experience. I doubt I'm gonna go onto the all-cash system, both because I buy things online too much and because I can't easily get to my bank.

    I will say that the class has already gotten me to take a hard look at my finances, become horrified, and stop some really, REALLY negative trends I had picked up in only the few short weeks since I moved into my new apartment.

    Edit: Also, telling people they need a plan and discipline is one thing. I have known I've needed that for a -long- time. Doesn't mean I did it. Now I have a plan, a few tools to help me along the way, and a whole bunch of co-workers holding me accountable. Discipline may fall by the wayside, but they'll be there to smack me around. And as someone who is living by himself and deals with chronic depression, that helps quite a bit.

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  • TheBlackWindTheBlackWind Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    The thing about Ramsey is that is good advice is generic, and his unique stuff is silly. He's not a whackjob, he just seems pretty unnecessary. (and yeah, shilling books and tapes to people trying to get out of debt is kind of cruel)

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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2011
    Dave's show is geared more towards people crippled under absolutely massive debt and his advice is usually slash and burn, which often times these folks actually need.

    He gets less serious calls all the time and his solutions are less radical, but he's always honest in telling people that they need to drop luxuries to get their act together.

    He offers sound advice. Bankruptcy isn't a good decision. It will make you're life more difficult in the long run and companies just roll your debt onto other customers.


    EDIT


    Is it really shilling books and tapes when he's pretty much giving them out free, constantly?

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  • VoodooVVoodooV Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I think you're exactly right. Dave is for the people who are apparently hopeless and don't understand basic things like math, interest, the concept of luxury vs. necessity, and the concept of why you can't just put everything on the credit card forever. Many of us go through that phase when we're younger, but most of us figure it out on our own that we can't sustain that mentality realistically

    Sadly we live in a world where a non-insignificant number of people fall into that category, hence, Dave has a market.

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