Much as I would like to wipe that smug smirk off his face, I’ve got to hand to Dave Ramsey: he’s got a point. And it carries with it the biblical truths of frugality and common sense, and humans’ limitless ability to rationalize to themselves what clearly isn’t true: that they “deserve” something they can’t afford.
The Knorthwest Kniffins began a 13-week “Financial Peace” course at a local church a few weeks ago, and the guy makes a clear point: don’t spend money you don’t have. In fact, don’t spend the money you do have, either. Use that for other, more productive purposes than whatever whims you’re harboring at the moment. These are all things we have long believed in, but taking Dave’s straightforward course is refreshing and sharpens our “financial skills”, so to say. Well worth the $.
We’re still trying to figure out how and what to implement, but so far, here’s some things we’ve learned:
- use cash, not credit cards: it is amazing how much more painful it is to use cash than credit. It’s no wonder why all those big corporations want you to buy their “gift cards”- you’ll use it quicker! Buying with cash hurts. And it seems to go so much quicker. Of course, the reverse of this is that buying with a credit card is painless and you waste a lot more of your money.
- Have a plan. My goodness, it’s important to think things out. It’s no wonder that people who are financially well-off have (not nec. the ones who earn a lot; the ones who have a big net worth, rather) overwhelmingly keep track of their finances: how much they spend on groceries, transportation, etc.
- Have goals: it has just occurred to me how simple this is, but again I credit Dave for making me think of it. We all have goals, but we don’t monetize them. Well, with one child (and, Lord-willing more on the way someday soon), it’s time to start putting a timeline to them: what do we want for them? Experiences? Sports? Trips? Camps? Well, those are going to cost money. Everything else we do is going to cost money, and we might as well plotting out those goals now and put aside $ for them.
Dave is a common sense guy. No frills with him. But what he says, he says well. I appreciate learning from him.
I’ve got one big, big beef with him, and it’s a theological one. His motto is, “live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” Translation: save money so you can buy a lot of gaudy stuff to show off to others. It’s a riff off the American Dream, pure and simple. I guess there’s nothing particularly wrong with this dream, except Dave promotes himself as a Christian, promoting Christian financial precepts. Well, being frugal and a wise steward is certainly Christian. But for the purpose of conspicuous consumption? That’s just downright demonic.
There are enough American Christians who are (consciously or not) putting as much faith in the American Dream as they are in the Gospel. Don’t allow Dave lure you down that road. Take the first part of his advice, but not the second.