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An Apology to Dave Ramsey

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A couple of days ago, I received a call from a local pastor at a church. Before I get into the call, let me assure you this article will not be about religion. As Seinfeld famously said, "Not that there's anything wrong with that."

The pastor asked if I was interested in helping manage the church's endowment. Despite my best efforts, I guess word has gotten around town that I know a thing or two about money. However, I have no clue if my knowledge translates to managing a 1.5 million dollar endowment. They are spending around 60K or 70K a year. Using a simple rule of 4% that's popular in retirement planning circles, they should be able to hit the low end, but it is cutting it close. In any case, I'm hoping the key word is "helping."

I mentioned to the pastor that I focus more on personal finance. She's got a Dave Ramsey bumper sticker on the back of her car, so I knew we could speak that common language. The church uses a lot of Dave Ramsey's philosophy. I explained that I simply disagree with much of what he says about personal finance.

Her response hit me like a ton of bricks. She said that no system is perfect. However, she's seen military people come in the door with $30,000 of debt and leave with none. The system works.

For a long time, I've had this ideal, perfect system in my head. I realized that perfect is the enemy of good. If Ramsey's philosophy gets people interested in personal finance and that helps them get out of debt it's a huge win. I shouldn't over-critique his game, because we are all on the same team. I've written that you should ignore Your personal finance guru. Today I'd like take that back.

Getting back to the call, I agreed to look at doing what I can to help the church. I'm not sure my religious beliefs match up with its teachings, but I definitely agree with their charitable causes.

The pastor's story about the military families carrying big debt hit home. I was talking with my wife a few night ago about how it happens far too often. Our nation's bravest deserve better, hopefully I can use this endowment thing as a stepping stone to help as an unofficial money coach.

Posted on May 14, 2014.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

debt, Financial Planning

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7 Responses to “An Apology to Dave Ramsey”

  1. Remembering the audience is something that’s important to do. People like us who care about this stuff are happy to bury our noses in the internet to find the 1.3% savings account in a haystack of 1.2% options… Plenty of folks out there don’t have any savings to earn interest on.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Well written Mario! I’m very much focused on optimization of finances. There are many people who simply need a solid foundation to start from.

  2. James says:

    Lazy Man,

    Great job helping the endowment. I look forward to hearing more about your progress in helping secure the church’s future.



  3. I think that Dave Ramsey is the best introductory finance guru for people who are in deep debt.

    I recommend him as a starting point. It’s definitely a good idea to grow from there, but he sets the stage for sure. He is really good at getting people out of debt.

    I am active duty military and I see financial problems almost every day with my peers. My wife and I are rare because we are not in debt, but the majority of the military is in debt. They are doing a better job of offering finance classes, but it doesn’t stop people from driving up credit card debt to buy expensive things that are supposed to impress their friends.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I argue with success all the time… because you can do better, right? I think that once we get complacent with what we view as “success” we stop trying to improve on it.

  4. kosmo says:

    For whatever reason, it seems like some people just can’t pay off things in order of interest rate. Those of us reading Lazy Man and Money won’t be able to wrap our heads around this, because it make zero sense. On the other hand, I can’t read music.

    It’s not like it’s a completely horrible system, though. He’s not recommending you pay off your mortgage with a high interest rate credit card or something completely crazy. Paying off debts in the Ramsey order will help a person in the long run – just not as much as doing it in interest rate order.

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