Dave Ramsey: Con Man, Cult Leader, or Other?

Back in July when I started this blog and was going to the Financial Peace University retapings, hubby was still the very reluctant spouse.  When I told him about my “seminar” his remark was that he hoped I enjoyed my classes with my “cult leader.”  That was how he viewed Dave Ramsey, and he is definitely neither the first nor last reluctant spouse to do so.  Nowadays, he refers to Dave as “our” cult leader since he finally listened to the CDs I sent him.  LOL

One criticism I have heard and read directed at Dave Ramsey is, “How can he charge people he knows are up to their eyeballs in debt?”  On one hand, this is a very valid criticism.  People call into the Dave Ramsey radio show all the time with staggeringly huge amounts owed on just about everything, and often what precipitates the call is some major negative financial event like job loss, illness, or even a death in the family.  These are the very people who seem least able to pay for Dave Ramsey’s books or for the study kit and enrollment fee for Financial Peace University or even the general admission ticket for a live event.  This leads some critics to claim Dave Ramsey is a con man preying on the finanically strapped who are desperate for any hope.

Well, after listening to the Dave Ramsey show since right before New Years, I can say that argument doesn’t hold up very well.  Dave often gives away his books, FPU memberships, and tickets to his live events to callers who need them.  Others he tells to check his books out from their local library…because it’s FREE.  He tells them listening to the radio show does not cost them anything -even listening online- and can serve to keep their motivation up during the long haul to get out of debt.  Dave Ramsey does not require anyone to buy anything from him to get the “secrets” to getting out of debt.  It can all be done for FREE if someone only has the desire to do it.  Yes, he has been a salesman all his life, and says both of his parents were in sales, so maybe he just can’t help sounding like the pitchman he is.  The truth is, if he were a con man he is a very poor one to be telling people to get his books from the library and giving away his merchandise almost every day.

As for cult leader status…well he isn’t asking for that.  LOL  In fact, there have been a few times on the radio show where he tells a caller they may be taking his advice too far.  He doesn’t ask his “followers” to send him all their money, he isn’t stockpiling an armory for the end of the world, and he hasn’t asked anyone to start living in a commune.  If anything, I see his as a counter-cult leader, with the debt-peddling companies being the ones who are trying to convert the population to the cult of debt.  By choosing to follow the “common sense” principles Dave Ramsey espouses, I feel I have become a part of the new counter-culture.  Maybe that is just the rebel in me rearing her head up, but for me it is a point of pride.