Before I get into the reasons why I like Dave, take a look at the picture of me taken with him at his offices in Nashville. (I'm the bald-headed guy.)
Notice that I put my hand on his shoulder, but his are in his pockets? That's because I'm a "wanna be." (By the way, as I write this I am sporting a goatee. That would have made for an interesting photo, wouldn't it?)
As you will read below, I think Dave is a nice guy. It was nice of him to have his picture taken with me. It was nice of him to chat with me for few minutes and to spend almost an hour with the training class I was in.
And oh yea, in case you're wondering about the "message wall" behind us, they are notes from people from all over who have visited there and who want to let everyone know that they are now DEBT FREE with the help of Dave and Financial Peace University (FPU). Yes, people travel from all over the country and sometimes from other parts of the world to put their names on that wall. Dave has helped a lot of people!
I like Dave. I don't know him that well (actually, hardly at all – I have only met him a couple of times.) But, I have read his books, listened to his radio shows, attended FPU, coordinated FPU, and attended his Financial Coach training class in Nashville, so I think I have a pretty good idea what he is all about. But I have an added advantage. I have talked with some folks who know Dave very well, including one who is one of his best friends and long-time employee (number 2, to be exact).
In this article, I'm going to talk a little about why I like Dave. Granted, it's based on limited contact and second hand information, but I still have some pretty strong opinions about the guy. I'm not doing this to brag about him, he wouldn't want that. I'm doing it because I'm grateful for the influence he has had on my own life and the lives of so many others.
I'm also doing it because, as you will see, I tend to reference him and quote him a lot in my articles on this blog. I want you to know that a lot of what I think, believe, and do regarding money has come from what I have learned from Dave.
I like (and use) his "stuff"
As I have stated elsewhere on this blog, I currently head up the financial coaching/counseling ministry at my church. In that ministry we sometimes use Dave's Baby Steps as part of the coaching model we use with our clients. I have also led the FPU class several times at my church. Finally, I have completed Dave Ramsey's Financial Counselor Training (now referred to as the "Financial Coach Master Series" training), which involved being trained by Dave's very own team of experienced in-house coaches.
So, I am very familiar with what Dave teaches, and I am also familiar with his critics, and some are people in the personal finance world who I also highly respect. (Full disclosure: I really like Dave, but there are also others in the personal finance field that I also respect and admire. I read their books and their blogs to get a well-rounded view of the issues. Many of them are listed on the Resources page on this site.)
He's usually much more right than wrong
In spite of the criticism that he receives and my own occasional disagreements, I am very supportive of Dave's program and his overall approach. And although neither Dave Ramsey nor his advice is 100% perfect (none of us are), there are few people living who have more powerfully and positively influenced more people's lives for good in the personal financial realm—period.
Some of the things his critics point out about his retirement investing assumptions and recommendations may actually be less than optimal, but hundreds of thousands of people (at least) sleep better at night for having developed more financial discipline in their lives thanks to the hope, motivation, and methodologies he provides. For that, at the very least, he has my admiration and respect.
His plan works
I have witnessed first-hand the impact that Dave and his Baby Steps have had in the lives of real people. (Full disclosure: I am completely out of debt, including my house, and at Baby Step # 7 – Build Wealth and Give. I firmly believe that I would not be at this point in my life were it not for Dave Ramsey and his teachings.) I have witnessed others with $50K to $100K in debt become debt free in a few short years. I have seen folks who had no plan whatsoever to be able to "retire with dignity" redo their budgets, change their spending habits, and start saving for the very first time.
He teaches from a Biblical perspective
Although he is sometimes criticized for it, I also like Dave because he bases his teaching on his understanding of what the Bible teaches about how to manage the money that God entrusts to us. Dave believes that the Bible tells us the most important things we need to know about money, especially in terms of habits and heart attitudes. Now that doesn't mean that I don't like other personal finance people who don't happen to love God or Jesus. It's just very meaningful to me that Dave does.
I also like that Dave loves Jesus, and he is not shy about saying so, in public or private. We need more Christians who will stand up and say so and I admire and respect Dave for that as well.
He is a successful entrepreneur
Dave started with nothing after his bankruptcy as a real estate investor and has built a successful company that employs almost 500 people. He is a popular speaker and author and he has recently written a best-selling book on what it means to be an "EntreLeader" (his term). In it, he shares his knowledge and experience as an entrepreneur with other business owners. His company has been voted one of the top employers in Nashville several times, and through it he reaches people all over the world with his message of hope and help for their finances.
He really is a nice guy
As noted above, I met Dave briefly in person. I heard him speak for over an hour in a small group setting and then got to talk with him for a few minutes. I found him to be polite, personable and humble. I also think he is a very grateful man who knows that God has given him many good gifts. He loves God. He loves his wife and family. He appreciates his employees and he shows it. And he really does care about those that he is trying to reach with his message of Financial Peace.
He has a sense of humor
I know that this seems an odd one to include, but I actually think having a good sense of humor is an important thing in life. If you have listened to Dave at all, you know he can really churn them out. Here are a couple of my favorites:
We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.
Broke people giving financial advice is like a shop teacher with missing fingers.
Act your wage.
Your budget must balance! You are not Congress!
Of course, many of his well-known quotes are quite serious, but I have always appreciated his sense of humor. It's especially good in the context of a fairly boring subject like money and the hard truths that he teaches.
He keeps wealth in the right perspective
As you may know, Dave recently released his "Legacy Journey" teaching series and book. I have read the book (Legacy Journey – A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity), and I highly recommend it. It isn't FPU 2.0 per se but about learning how to live and leave a legacy after you have completed the baby steps that Dave outlines in FPU – a life that will bless your family, your church, your community, and the world. The Legacy Journey looks out toward the later years and is more about spiritual principals regarding wealth and savings and focuses on creating a legacy of giving and generosity. Quoting from that book:
Outrageous generosity is a character quality of people who win with money.
So he believes that the most important thing you can do with your money is to use it to bless others. This comes out of Dave's core belief that our money is not really our own. He believes that our money is God's money, and we're here to manage it for him as stewards.
That has significant implications for what we do with it. It means we should do good with it, not hoard or waste it. Or go into debt again. Or keep it all to ourselves. Dave wants us to believe that we can't lose by being generous, and if we change our own lives we will be able to change others. Using God's money for his purposes can change the world, so we've got to use it wisely by being a good steward of whatever wealth he entrusts to us.