Dave Ramsey is perhaps the most well known public figure as it relates to personal finance and budgeting. His method works because it is simple, systematized, and uses stable financial practices. Because it can be replicated for anyone, it has helped thousands of people. There is certainly a place for this type of budgeting curriculum, especially for mass scaling, and I am very thankful for all of the people who have been helped by his program. Personally, I have read through his book, have gone through the majority of his curriculum, have listened to his talk show, and have spoken with dozens of people about their experiences going through his program.
The Ramsey method could not reach as many people as it could if it operated as custom as I do, and for that reason I intentionally keep my client group small. Even if it means I make less revenue, I want to operate my business in a way that I enjoy and brings satisfaction. Here are some key ways that I differ in my approach:
*Note: the Ramsey method likely incorporates some of what I have listed below, I have just found that they are not on the top of the priority list and don't get much of the spotlight.
I prioritize mental and emotional health
I ask a lot of questions on how my clients are feeling. This guides what I recommend that they add or cut out of their budget. If they are feeling hopeful, energetic, and motivated, I may suggest buckling down and making big strides. If they are tired, discouraged, and hopeless, I may encourage them to pace themselves and make sure they are allocating funds for important life-giving practices, whatever that means for them (i.e. that daily latte, paying for kickboxing classes, counseling, etc). More of a note on him personally, rather than his method, I find that showing compassion to people is one of the most effective tools for motivation. Sometimes when someone feels judged and "behind," it just makes them close up and feel hopeless enough to quit. Everyone is in the place they are for a reason, and I like to show people that they have what it takes no matter the decisions they have made in their past or present.
I am sensitive to family life
When listening to Dave Ramsey's talk show, I cringe when I hear him push, especially men, into getting second jobs. Yes this is doable at times and can certainly help you launch ahead financially (and sometimes it is necessary). But as a mom who worked from home for three years while Drew worked and often traveled, I know how excruciating and negatively impactful long periods without a partner can be, especially when children are involved. I am very sensitive to making sure that there is not one partner over another that is getting the brunt of everything, and to make sure that there is enough time for the family to connect as it wants to.
I run the numbers
Dave often warns about doing math tricks when it comes to ROI vs. debt interest rates and so forth. Again, this works when trying to replicate on a large scale, but because I have a small client group, I can actually do some of the math and help them determine how to maximize their numbers when it comes to possible consolidation, order of debt payment, and investing even before all debts are paid off.
I utilize credit cards and credit scores
While I may not recommend utilizing credit cards for every client, the majority of the time I recommend having one credit card with good rewards. My particular budget strategy and the way I use mint.com makes it easy to balance your budget even if you are using a credit card and paying it off each month. Ramsey talks about ways to get around needing a credit score, but in my opinion its just not necessary when you can BOTH stick to your budget/meet your financial goals AND have a great credit score.
So there it is. If you are a staunch Ramsey supporter, more power to you! I know he has done a lot of good. He just isn't quite my cup of tea, and that's ok too. Just like everything in life, I can take what I like from his method, and let go what I don't.