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Dave Ramsey is a faith-based financial expert and multi-media personality who started his career in real estate. By his mid-20s, Ramsey had accumulated a real estate portfolio worth $4 million. However, a change in banking laws required several outstanding loans to be called. He was unable to pay, and Ramsey, in a reversal of fortune, subsequently filed for bankruptcy.
- RELATED: Dave Ramsey, Christian finance guru, defies COVID-19 to keep staff at desks When RNS reported on concerns about Hogan and about the culture at Ramsey Solutions, the company ridiculed any.
- Dave Ramsey and his co-hosts talking about money, careers, relationships, and how they impact your life. Tune in to The Ramsey Show and experience one of the most popular talk radio shows in the.
- ^ Ramsey, Dave (November 19, 2020). 'This Has Gotten Out of Hand! – Dave Ramsey Rant'. The Dave Ramsey Show – YouTube. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved January 9, 2021. ^ Smietana, Bob (December 11, 2020). 'Dave Ramsey, Christian personal finance guru, defies COVID-19 to keep staff at desks'. Religion News Service.
Since then, he developed a debt-reduction system based on common sense and sound financial principles that he followed to regain his own fiscal footing. His debt-freedom and slow-growth approach to financial security are the core elements of his multimedia empire.
Ramsey's website claims that 23 million people follow his daily radio show, podcasts, and weekly videos. His team has also published 19 national bestselling books. Most importantly to him, Ramsey states that 6 million families have fixed their financial foibles with his wealth-building plan. His message is one of discipline and hope for individuals, families, and small businesses.
While he promotes a positive posture regarding money management and fiscal freedom, Ramsey is an outspoken critic of cryptocurrencies as an asset class. Is he right? Let's take a look.
Ramsey isn't a fan of crypto
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During an April 2021 segment from his radio program, Ramsey said Bitcoin and Dogecoin are 'stupid investments' and compared cryptocurrencies to cocaine and gambling. And in a separate radio excerpt from May 2021, he likened Bitcoin to the Lotto, calling both 'a dumb idea' and said that he doesn’t encourage anyone to invest in '…highly volatile, unpredictable investments.'
Hyperbole aside, Ramsey encourages a '…boring, methodical approach…' when building wealth. He bases that on results from hissurvey of 10,000 millionaires. Ramsey believes that 'get rich quick' schemes most often result in 'going broke fast' realities. His personal net worth is approximately $200 million, so he’s doing something right.
However, there are some fundamental claims about cryptocurrencies on his website that are not accurate. Specifically, the following four points are misrepresentations of the cryptocurrency asset class:
- Cryptocurrency is unstable.
- Cryptocurrency has lots of unknowns.
- Cryptocurrency makes fraud easier.
- Cryptocurrencies have an unproven rate of return.
Why Ramsey is wrong about crypto investing
Each of Ramsey's claims needs to be addressed using the cryptocurrency with the longest track record -- Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a useful surrogate for the entire industry because cryptocurrencies came into being back in 2009 after the Bitcoin white paper was published, introducing the idea of Bitcoin and its use in the real world.
Claim 1: Cryptocurrency is unstable
Bitcoin is volatile but it’s not 'unstable' the way mainstream media tends to portray it. Ramsey reinforces that negative narrative when he continues to compare Bitcoin to gambling, betting on football, and the lottery.
While cryptocurrency can be characterized as a speculative asset class, it’s not Three-Card Monte. In fact, a new study by Fidelity found that seven out of 10 institutional investors plan to buy crypto within the next five years. This validates cryptocurrency as a viable investment. You don’t see the 'smart money' chasing Powerball.
Claim 2: Cryptocurrency has lots of unknowns
Every aspect of life -- including investing of any kind -- has 'unknown' elements, so Ramsey’s not completely wrong here. However, his website goes over the top regarding this second claim when it states, 'Only a small percentage of people in the world really understand the system and know how to operate it. Ignorance makes you vulnerable.' This seems a bit hyperbolic, fear inducing, and unnecessary. Just because something is complex doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to learn about.There are many valuable and informative resources about crypto available to help you do your research and make your own investment decisions.
Claim 3: Cryptocurrency makes fraud easier
Cryptocurrency fraud is nowhere to be found on the FBI’s list of the top-30 types of most common scams.This is a tired media trope that’s frequently cited to spur fear, uncertainty, and doubt -- a crypto phrase commonly referred to as 'FUD.'
In actuality, cryptocurrency transactions occur on an open digital ledger that anyone can see and track by IP address. Law enforcement officials can visit websites that post all blockchain transactions in the past and present. They can see where funds move and the countries where individuals -- most notably criminals -- make the deposits. Because of this, portions of those funds are often recovered or frozen. Anybody with an internet connection can view these blockchain transactions by Googling 'Bitcoin blockchain,' which makes it tough to hide crypto funds. Blockchains are great for moving crypto funds, but those movements are not hidden or completely autonomous.
Bottom line, cryptocurrencies don’t make fraud easier.
Claim 4: Cryptocurrencies have an unproven rate of return
Bitcoin has a 12-year track record of return on investment (ROI) performance. Over the past 10 years, the constant annual growth rate (CAGR) for Bitcoin has exceeded 130% -- that’s 6 times more than the next-closest asset class. Here’s the comparison with other investments, courtesy of casebitcoin.com:This post may contain affiliate links. Please check out my disclaimer for more information.
There are a lot of Dave Ramsey die-hards in the personal finance community. If you’re a huge Ramsey fan, as I once was, I encourage you to read this post with an open mind and consider my key points on their merit. It’s entirely possible that I’m going to ruffle some feathers with this one, but I’ve decided to stop following Dave Ramsey.
For those of you who are not familiar with him, Dave Ramsey is the outspoken host of a daily radio show that is syndicated all over the USA, and the author of several books including ‘Financial Peace’ and ‘The Total Money Makeover.’ Dave teaches his 7 step program to financial peace. For reference, the steps are:
1. Save $1000 in an emergency fund
2. Pay off all debts using the snowball method
3. Save 3 to 6 months of expenses in your emergency fund
4. Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement funds
5. Save for kid’s college
6. Pay off your home early
7. Invest and give
I think that this plan, though simplistic, is a good one for some people, including my wife and I when we first started learning about personal finance and budgeting. Most of us can get behind the idea of not carrying debt, saving money, and investing.
However, after having listened to Ramsey’s radio show daily for several months and read a couple of his books, I definitely have some misgivings about his methods. I’m going to share them with you below. Again, these are my own opinions – I’m happy to hear your thoughts in the comments!
He’s rude to his listeners
This is my main point of criticism, he’s just not very nice. I wouldn’t call into the Dave Ramsey show. Why? Because I just can’t stand the way he speaks to people. At times, he speaks to his listeners with shocking disrespect, telling them that their financial decisions are ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid,’ sometimes adding a touch of something that resembles empathy by saying things like ‘I’ve done stupid myself.’
There are certain things that seem to set him off. Car loans, lending money to family and a few others, and I just can’t stand to listen to the way he speaks to his listeners.
Frankly, I find the tone of his entire show to be condescending and rude, and I’m not the only one. Some compassion shows through with certain callers, but the tone of the show for the most part is acerbic and to me, he often sounds angry. His reputation for helping folks get out of debt and put their financial lives on track is undermined by the way in which he speaks to callers on his show.
Add to that regular long-winded political tirades where he disparages former president Obama (I haven’t listened since Donald Trump took office), congress, and anything democrat. Political conversations are of course, important, but I fail to see how this ongoing theme adds anything to a show where listeners are calling in for help with major personal finance issues.
But of course, that’s just me 🙂
His plan is one-size-fits-all
There’s no doubt that Dave Ramsey’s baby steps have helped people get out of debt and start saving money. The plan is simple to follow, and literally anybody can do it.
The thing is, with finance, as with clothing, one size doesn’t ever fit all. For folks with older kids, it might make more sense to save more for kid’s college now and put off paying down some debt until after that’s dealt with. That will depend on how old your kids are, how much debt you’re carrying and at what interest rate and of course, your income.
There’s no allowance in Ramsey’s plan for any scenario other than the 7 baby steps. I think that for those who have no idea how to manage their money and need a complete step-by-step plan, it’s definitely a great one to follow.
That said, the one-size fits all approach just doesn’t work for many people and it’s important to consider your own financial situation and needs before you commit to the 7 baby steps.
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Further to my last point, the debt snowball is one completely legitimate way of approaching debt repayment. But it’s not the only way, and frankly, it’s not the most mathematically advantageous way to pay down your debt.
The snowball method is pretty simple, pay down smaller debts first and as you pay them off, take those payments and apply them to the larger balances. The point is to get some quick wins to help you stay motivated and keep at it. It’s effective, but can be expensive if your larger debts are at a higher interest rate.
The snowball method may not be best in situations where your higher balances are also high interest debt. Mathematically, it makes more sense to pay off your higher interest debts first. Being a highly logical person, I tend to want to approach money problems in the way that makes the most sense mathematically.
Credit cards aren’t the problem
Alcohol is dangerous for some people, and credit cards are dangerous for some people. If you have a spending problem, or lack the discipline to pay your card off daily, weekly or monthly, you should definitely not use one.
Credit cards are a tool. They’re an incredibly useful one, but they’re also dangerous. Like a chainsaw, scissors or a motorcycle, credit cards can cause a lot of damage when not used appropriately. Also, studies have shown that people tend to spend more money when they spend on credit – so you definitely need to understand how to use the game if you’re using plastic.
That said, I use credit cards. We have a card that gets us free flights, and another that gives us cash value towards travel purchases. If I am going to buy a $2000 refrigerator, I don’t see the point in using cash or debit when I can put it on my card, and get some points towards something else that I will buy anyways. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Excessive spending is not an issue that I struggle with personally however, so your mileage may vary.
Dave is astronomically wealthy
I don’t think that Dave Ramsey is really in touch with the problems that average people are having right now. According to this site, Dave Ramsey’s net worth is around 55 million dollars, placing him miles and miles outside the financial realm of us regular folks.
Though he went through a financial catastrophe years and years ago, Mr. Ramsey has since amassed enough wealth that he could stop working tomorrow and still provide for his family for generations to come.
He has been incredibly successful in his business, and that’s great for him. That said, Dave hasn’t needed anything for a very long time and I would argue that he’s out of touch with the issues that average people face day to day. I believe this comes through in how he speaks to his callers.
It’s easy for him to speak in black and white terms when it comes to financing vehicles, borrowing for college or savings rates. These things haven’t been issues for him for decades. His callers though, are not multi-millionaires. They’re regular, everyday folks who often agonize over decisions such as a car purchase.
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Don’t borrow money for college
I understand his reasoning on this point, but again, I don’t think it’s a black and white issue. If you’re borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to get a 4-year degree in 17th century German art criticism, than yeah, maybe don’t do that.
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However, if you’ve done your research and are going into a field where there’s good demand and high pay such as nursing, engineering or the like, I don’t see why he advises people not to borrow money as a means to achieve their goals. You can do a lot to minimize the amount of money that you need to borrow. I just don’t see how it’s a black and white issue.
For many, post-secondary education is the best investment they will ever make. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that anybody not go to college simply because they’re afraid to borrow. It doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing issue. Why not aim to pay for 50 or 60% of your schooling up front, work part time and minimize the amount you have to borrow?
Buying a house
If you’re not familiar with Ramsey’s advice with regards to purchasing a home, his first recommendation is to pay cash up front. So since there’s basically none of us who can do that, let’s move on to his next preferred method – put 10-20% as a down payment and a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage.
This may have been well and good in the 80s, but homes in many areas are just too expensive for a 15 year mortgage. Should a millennial really hold off on purchasing a home for years because they can not put 20% down or make do with a 15 year mortgage? I don’t think so. With the market here in Western Canada rising as rapidly as it has over the last decade, it would be impossible to out-save the increase in real-estate values.
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Please understand that while there’s some criticism here, I’m not trying to hate on Dave Ramsey. I’ve heard many callers in to his show attribute their financial successes to his 7 baby step plan – I’m sure there are thousands upon thousands of people out there who would say the same.
In fact, while I’m being honest, his book ‘Total Money Makeover’ is what first got my wife and I interested in personal finance, pushed us to get on a budget and get our financial life in order. Ramsey’s principles are sound, and are a great starting point for you if you’re drowning in debt and don’t know what to do.
I feel however, that Mr. Ramsey’s behavior on his show including consistent disrespect to his callers and on-size-fits-all advice should leave you looking at other sources of financial inspiration.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on Dave Ramsey’s teachings?
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