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November 23, 2010


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I wish I had his tax bill. Good for him. I have followed his advice and am now comfortably retired with no money problems for the forseeable future.

Thanks Dave!

While no one can argue with Dave's methodology, I do have heartburn with his program cost. At $100 to do the course most people have a hard time coming up with this as they learn debt management. I personally suggest Crown Ministries program which is only $25 and then tell couples to go to the library and check-out his books.

We adopted this practice and also use this approach for teaching financial management through the church.

Sorry, but I think it's a shame he is making this much money off the backs of people who are simply trying to learn money management.

First, let me say that I haven't read any of Dave Ramsey's book (I know, I must be the last pf blogger in the world that hasn't).

But I think if he has the money, then why not!

And as for the the big house, it takes workers to build houses like these, not to mention that real estate taxes he'll be paying! At least he didn't move to France, or some other country. The community down there benefits directly.

I disagree with @dd, Dave is helping people, not robbing people. And from what I hear, he's one of the best...

Someday, I'll have to read his books!

...on the other hand, he has to live next to Lee Ann Rimes. So, you see, even rich people have problems!

Ramsey made a lot of money and he can do what he wants with it.

However, dd makes an EXCELLENT point. On his radio program he gives free advice, and that's great and helps people who have trouble getting out of debt. On the other hand, he charges $100 to go to his seminars, and the target audience is people who are deeply in debt. He's charging people money they can't afford to advise them on how to get out of debt.

If Ramsey were merely a capitalist, all of this would be fine-- but he's not. He sells a religious message along with this and acts like helping people is his "calling." I have a hard time reconciling that idea with the amount of money he takes home from his $100-per-head seminars.

Also, it's never a bad time to mention that his advice frequently costs his listeners more money than necessary (actively managed mutual funds and paying down low-interest debts, for example). Ramsey is appropriate for a niche audience: people who have no concept of how to handle money and need emotional hand-holding, who also don't mind advice packaged with religious overtones. Everyone else can find a better source of financial advice.

Here's an interesting point to ponder for those who think it's "wrong" to charge those in debt/with bad finances for a seminar (I'm not attacking or defending Dave, just putting this out there for discussion):

I've heard seminar planners say that many times people will not follow up/place value on/take action on something they get for free. For instance, when seminars/presentations are free, a gazillion people will sign up, but only a fraction (usually around half) will show up. And from there, those who actually implement the changes in their lives are a small minority. They think that because they didn't pay anything for the advice that they aren't losing out by not implementing it (I'm not saying this is rational thought, I'm just telling you how I see it happening.)

On the other hand, when people are charged, they take the event seriously. If they sign up, they show up and they implement the advice. If they don't, they feel like they've wasted money. And so they do make changes and their lives are better off. The cost of the seminar comes back to them many times over.

So you could argue that by charging people, DR is actually helping them out more than if he didn't charge.

Your thoughts?

Why shouldn't Ramsey be able to charge for the help he provides people? If they are able to turn themselves around financially for the prices he charges then they should consider that money well spent as it will pay for itself many times over the years.

I also agree with FMF about the worth of paid seminars versus free seminars. By charging money, Ramsey is essentially pre-weeding out the people who wouldn't truly be serious in the first place. These people would provide a drag on the rest of the seminar and the people who are actually serious about getting help.

All I could think of when I first saw pictures of that house was two of my favorite quotes.

One is from the movie Forrest Gump

" Now, Momma said there's only so much fortune a man really needs and the rest is just for showing off."

The other is from the book Tuesdays With Morrie where Morrie Schwartz talks about how people are in too much of a hurry.

They haven't found meaning in their life, so they're too busy running around looking for it. Perhaps it's in the next car or in the bigger house. If not, maybe it's in the house after that.

I don't have the book in front of me but if I recall correctly Schwartz's final statement on that topic was something to the effect that "Someone always has a bigger house"

I had the same thought as you, FMF - that people frequently don't value what they get for free. Yes, when your money is low, $100 is a lot. But don't his classes run for several weeks? They cost per class would then be much less that $100. If a family learns to manage money better they will more than recoup the cost.

And he frequently does give the class to callers on his radio show. . . :)


I hardly think a man with Ramsey's radio following would get poor attendance if he gave a free seminar. He'd have a waiting list.

I don't think Ramsey is wrong for charging. I just think he's wrong to claim this as a religious calling if he gets rich off of it.

If he'd leave religion out of it, my only problem with Ramsey would be that his advice is not always mathematically/financially sound, and people who listen to him adore him too much to question or challenge it.

RBK --

I didn't say he'd get poor attendance. I said he'd get a fraction of those who said they'd come actually show up and that those who did would be less likely to implement the advice.


Again, I don't see this in any way applying to someone like Ramsey who has a reputation and fans. I think people would be thrilled to be helped by him for free. I don't see this as a valid reason for him to charge $100. What if he charged $20? Is that enough for people to take the advice seriously? If so, why the extra $80? Profit? Again I say this creates a conflict.

Coming from a really broke background, I'd feel just ridiculous in that much house. I have no doubt that he is amazingly generous, though. Besides, Dave won't be answering to me on Judgment Day, will he? Nothing wrong with being rich! He definitely can afford it, so I'll keep my nose out of his business. :0)

The people that listen to Ramsey don't have the financial savvy to understand that paying $100 for his program is a waste of money. That's why they are in financial trouble. Some of the stuff that Ramsey preaches just makes no sense financially (pay every debt even 0% interest, pay highest balance card first, paying house outright no matter what, managed growth mutual funds with a “good track record”, etc).
He is targeting this audience and apparently is paying off. He already went broke once, I just hope he is not going back to the BK house again. You can’t fool most of the people most of the time.
If you really want effective and religion-free personal financial advice that makes sense , just watch Clark Howard Saturdays on HLN.

You're right, Tony. Clark Howard is the man if you really need well-thought-out and thorough advice on financial or consumer issues. He does what Dave Ramsey SHOULD be doing.

"IMO: he can afford it, he has all his finances in order, so why not?"

Because it is immoral and ostentatious, that's why not.

I don't read this blog religiously, but don't you sometimes reference Christian themes ? WWJD, live in a huge house ?

justsomeguy --

In what way is it immoral? Are you saying it's wrong to be rich and spend your money how you like?

If he is immoral for spending that much on a house then the average middle-class citizen is just as guilty. If you want to compare the middle 80% in this country to the poorest 80% in the rest of the world you will quickly realize that utilitarianism demands that middle-class folks give away 90% of their earnings to the less fortunate. 10% of the average wage would be enough to cloth/feed/house a family of four (in a tent eating staple foods). I'm not saying this is true, just taking this line of thinking to its logical conclusion.

you're comparing a guy with no kids living in a 13,000 SF palace to a family of 4 or 5 wanting a decent home for their family? That's a stupid analogy.

And maybe it's not immoral, but it appears hypocritical to repeatedly quote from the Bible and then live like a greedy king. he should be able to spend on whatever he wants, but this is in no way a Christian act.

On the topic of charging people $100, if he really believed that the act of spending $100 caused people to buy in and take the program seriously and that were the main/only reason for the fee, then he should donate most/all of that money. Obviously the real reason is to build his empire.

Pop, the average income in the US is $50,000 annually compared to $365 for 20% of the world population. If we are talking about the Bible and hypocrisy then we are all 100% guilty. If we are talking degrees of hypocracy, then I would say the average church-goer is a 9 out of 10 and Dave is 9.1 out of 10.

On the other hand, if we are talking personal preference, no way would I want to waste so many resources on something that will cause me more distress than happiness. But honestly if you bring morality into it I think you are ignoring the logical conclusion of your argument, which is until the poorest among us have basic needs met there should be no luxuries (and that includes a "decent home" for a family).

FMF is actually spot on. This is the same phenomenon with consultants and business-- when a person or business pays for something, not only is he or she more likely to show up, but also more likely to implement any recommendations or make changes.

On the other topic, I don't think it's particularly biblical to have a $5M house.

Wow... There are some seriously judgmental people here. I honestly feel like many of these people are jealous. Dave Ramsey has used real estate to build much of his wealth (he owns tons of rental properties along with many actively managed and index mutual funds). The 5 million dollar house is currently worth TWICE what he paid for it. I would not be surprised if he sells it at some point and takes the gain from it. Would several of you be so critical if he had 5 million is stock?!?! How is that any different except for the fact that he currently lives in his investment? Dave Ramsey tithes and gives WAY above that to other charities including his own non- profit. Also there are MANY strong Godly men in the bible that were extremely wealthy (to toss aside the notion that Dave is somehow not “Christian” enough as some of you have so ignorantly noted). Also I literally have NO problem with him making money off his program – it works!!! What is $100 when you change your family tree by paying off debt and building serious wealth? He also gives the program away to people on his radio show every day who really can’t afford. SHEEEEESH -- I seriously can’t believe some of you all’s judgmental attitudes... Everyone enjoy the holiday break!!!

Nate, you said it well.

"If we are talking about the Bible and hypocrisy then we are all 100% guilty. If we are talking degrees of hypocracy, then I would say the average church-goer is a 9 out of 10 and Dave is 9.1 out of 10."

Do you know the definition of hypocrisy?


First of all, I totally disagree with you and others that are critical of Dave Ramsey's home as it is widely known that he is a very giving person. Secondly, I missed the part in the bible as to degrees of sins/trangressions. Can you point me in the right direction?


Please post your guidelines as to what size home you feel is acceptable and at which level it then becomes a sin. Next, please post your thoughts on other luxuries. What price is acceptable for cars, clothes, the computers we are currently using to post on this site, etc. How are those standards set, in your opinions.

I have no problem with Dave and his house, perhaps by owning such a monstrosity he will use it as a tool or a form of persusaion to his audience. Has anyone ever sat through a quickstar seminar? The first thing they do is show you their mansion, then tell you "you can have this too".

Proof is in the pudding, If I knew he owned this, then I would take his advice seriously. If he lived in an apartment and drove a 15 year old vehicle, then I wouldnt take his financial advice as seriously. It would be like a rolex salesman who's wearing a timex while making his pitch.

He paid cash. He constantly donates to other causes and advocates it once his clients have taken care of their personal disasters. He created a solution where there is a problem, a gaping problem in the American society. The guy has done well. Go to the library or craigslist or ebay to get his books for less than face value. He is providing a service where very few others are doing it. Let's be happy for him.

To everyone talking about immorality here - please, give me a break!

Would you feel better if he lived in a smaller house and kept his money invested in the stock market? You're really just passing judgement on what you think is a reasonable percentage to give away versus consume.

Ostentatious - absolutely!
Inefficient use of his money - almost definitely!
Stupid - maybe.
Immoral - no way, unless you are refering to carbon footprint.

His advice may not be financially efficient either, but his concept of paying off the debts in the wrong order works because it is psychologically satisfying and so many people are too mathematically challenged to do it any other way.

Likewise his "Zero debt" philosophy. SOME people can drink moderately, but if you are an alcoholic, then you need to stay off completely.

And the amount he charges - $100 is enough to feel the pain and be motivated to pay attention during the seminar and go out and apply what you learned. Of course anyone could go to the library or read a couple of blogs, but if they had the sense to do that, they wouldn't need this seminar in the first place.

I'm spending over a hundred dollars on mvelopes online budget software. (Crown ministries) I paid the $100 to attend Dave's probably saved my marriage...PRICELESS. Also, I know you said you'd save this for a Sunday post but I have to go there...when Jesus walked the earth He did not heal everyone and there was poverty to His left and to His right. He even said we'd always have poverty. Jesus is our real Treasure. Happy Thanksgiving, FMF.

Agree with Nate. Agree with Mark.

Dave Ramsey is practicing what he preaches. He built wealth so he can spend it on what he wants. Not mine to judge what he should want.

Just because he got successful doesn't mean it's immmoral to continue running a profitable business. I wish there were a magic profit number beyond which every business would give away their product or service for free, or at least for cost. But there isn't.

And as far as the immorality of getting rich off a religious calling, then there are some televangelists who will have some 'splaining to do on Judgment Day.

To all you people criticizing DR's costs for attending FPU, let me fill you in. Having just finished leading one of his classes, I have some observations:

First, $100 for a 13-week class (yes, it is a class) is not exactly obscene in its cost.

Second, I had several price tiers for people depending on their financial situation. Some people I gave a 100% scholarship. Some 50%. Some paid full price.
- Out of the 5 families that got a 100% scholarship, two did not graduate the program (one of them attended one session and never returned).
- Out of the 3 families that got a 50% scholarship, one did not graduate the program.
- Out of the 10 families that got a 0% scholarship, one did not graduate the program.

The percentage of dropout drastically increased based on the amount they did not pay. The fact that people have to have some "skin in the game" in order to take these principles to heart is very correct. If Dave Ramsey were to just give his program away or sell it for a very low price, no one would take it seriously. Yes, DR is in it to make money, but he's also in it to change lives. And he knows people well enough to charge for his program.

Let's see what this blogger has to say about it. Read 1st Timothy Chp 6 starting at verse 6

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