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dave ramsey gives bad advice

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Funnily enough, Dave Ramsey isn’t big in the UK. I doubt that many people have ever heard of him, I certainly hadn’t before I started reading personal finance blogs. As you might have guessed by my response to the meme, if I were debt free… I’m not really a fan. I don’t think his advice is usually bad or anything, but it doesn’t always make the greatest sense and it’s really aimed at a different market to me.

Whilst perusing the dollar stretcher, I came across this nugget of annoyance, should the engaged buy or rent (beware, the caller’s accent is quite strong).

Why did this annoy me? Well there are a few minor irritants: Dave assumes that the caller isn’t living with his fiancee and has a pretty traditional relationship set up and he doesn’t tailor his advice based on their (they have a large deposit). This is less than ideal because the answer to any personal finance question is ‘it depends’. But I can set that aside, after all I don’t really expect him to delve deeply in a conversation that lasts a few minutes.

No, the suggestion that Dave makes is that they wait until they’ve been married a year before buying a house and that they put the deposit money in a mutual fund - all $60,000 of it. I almost couldn’t believe it when I heard this, I had to rewind just to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood.

Folks, a mutual fund is a good place for an investment that you don’t need to touch for at least 5-10 years. If you’re planning on buying a house in the next couple of years, a savings account is a good place for your deposit. A mutual fund is a terrible place for your deposit. Over a one year period there is a more than reasonable chance that you could lose money.

Dave Ramsey, you sir, are a fool, an utter fool.

Edited to add: Apparently I misheard (for which I will blame the unfamiliar accents) and the money was already in a mutual fund, although the synopsis didn’t reflect that.  The synopsis has been changed thanks to Chris Thomas and as much as I can, I take back all insults above.

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51 comments for “dave ramsey gives bad advice”

  1. I’m with Dave when it comes to living with a fiance and waiting a year to purchase a house, but a mutual fund is certainly no place for a short term investment.

    ‘utter fool’ might be a little strong. . .

    Posted by rocketc | October 25, 2007, 3:26 pm
  2. Okay, I come around here too much - I have seven more posts than Mrs. Micah. I need a life. :)

    Posted by rocketc | October 25, 2007, 3:27 pm
  3. I have heard Dave say put it in a short term CD for a year but NEVER a mutual fund. I have heard him say put money in a mutual fund for a minimum of 5 years, and I listen to Dave every day!

    Posted by Emma | October 25, 2007, 3:38 pm
  4. @Emma:
    If that’s in the sense that he normally says a CD then I believe you, but in this example he definitely says ‘mutual fund’ not only is it on the recording it’s in the notes below.

    A life is over-rated (apparently, I wouldn’t know myself of course). Utter fool displays my contempt for this statement pretty well.

    Posted by plonkee | October 25, 2007, 3:53 pm
  5. “An utter fool.” Classic. Yeah, I’m not sure your rewind button works very well because Dave doesn’t say to put the money in a mutual fund as you suggest. The caller says the money is ALREADY in a mutual fund and Dave simply recommends leaving it alone for one more year.

    Posted by Chris Thomas | October 25, 2007, 3:57 pm
  6. Did you create this post, to generate hits / interest in this blog? ( see fivecentnickel )

    Foolish, defines the financial decisions that we made prior to finding Dave Ramsey.

    We’ve had a $230,000 turn around, from the red to the black , in 4 years, primarily due to the information that Dave Ramsey provides in his book and radio show.

    Posted by Steven Farrar | October 25, 2007, 4:26 pm
  7. Although I am a fan of the debt snowball, I haven’t actually read much Ramsey. I keep saying I should. I think someone should send me The Total Money Makeover. lol

    Chris above is correct that the audio says to leave it in a mutual fund that it is already in. But Dave needs better website editors. Because the description of the clip on Dave’s very own website says (and I directly copied and pasted this) : “Why not put it in a mutual fund for a year and see that money grow?”

    The southern accent of the caller is so string I can see where a listener might misunderstand what Dave advises, because HIS OWN WEBSITE MISQUOTED IT. So… sorry Dave, I side with plonkee on this one. Someone who just reads your site and doesn’t listen to the audio is going to think mutual funds are a good one-year investment ;)

    Posted by paidtwice | October 25, 2007, 6:53 pm
  8. The synopsis has been changed on the site. All better?

    Posted by Chris Thomas | October 25, 2007, 7:22 pm
  9. plonkee, you KNEW this post would attract my attention LOL I too listen to Dave just about every day, and his advice is to put short-term savings in a mutual fund MONEY MARKET account, or if it’s already in a mutual fund to just leave it there as long as it is not a short-term thing.

    As for that particular call, I’m in the South and have about the same accent so I understood what both said perfectly: The money was already in a mutual fund, and Dave advises leaving it there until they’ve been married for ayear “So you know how far away you want to live from your mother-in-law.” Personally, I always prefer at least one state between myself and my in-laws…

    Posted by Debt Free Revolution | October 25, 2007, 11:24 pm
  10. If I misheard what the caller said then that makes more sense, I have to admit that I was pretty surprised to hear completely lame advice. In my defence, as a Brit, its not everyday that I hear someone from Mississippi speak - in fact I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever heard that particular accent as strong before.

    Personally I’d suggest not leaving it in a mutual fund if you’re going to use it in a years time, but that’s a matter of judgement rather than the original meaning that I took which would clearly be a dumb thing to do.

    @Steven Farrar
    As I say, I’m not a big Dave Ramsey fan, but I wouldn’t normally describe his ideas as foolish - as far as I understand his plan its basically sound, if not always financially optimal. I say it as I see/hear it, not to court controversy.

    @Chris Thomas:
    Changing the synopsis is probably the way to go - I doubt there is anything you can do about my mishearing things due to accent problems ;) .

    Posted by plonkee | October 25, 2007, 11:47 pm
  11. Accent? What accent?

    Posted by glblguy | October 26, 2007, 12:50 am
  12. It’s still lame advice - whether he says to put the money in a mutual fund (I’m assuming equity) or leaving it in there, the end result is the same.

    They should put the money into something very safe (as Plonkee says).

    Fool he is!


    Posted by FourPillars | October 26, 2007, 2:44 am
  13. In finance, there are almost always several sensible options to take to reach financial goals. I’m troubled when somebody acts as if there is only one sensible way, usually their way. Dave Ramsey tends to fit into that category, although I confess I enjoy his radio show. I do think he espouses one sensible way to achieve financial freedom, just not the only way.

    Posted by Dough Roller | October 26, 2007, 12:06 pm
  14. If it was me, seeing that they will need the money shortly (1-2 years) I would’ve told the caller. Anything you’re holding at a loss, take it out now, then take everything else out after new year (for tax purpose). Then put the money in CD or high-yield savings that can provide 4-5%. This is still decent gain for short-term and protect the down payment much better. In short, I agree with Plonkee that leaving it in MF is still a bad bad idea for something they need in a very short time.

    On the other hand, I agree completely with Dave about not making any major purchases together as a newly wed couple.

    Posted by Pinyo | October 26, 2007, 12:53 pm
  15. I just wanted to point out that the caller’s accent in almost not noticeable. If you can’t understand him then you are not paying enough attention. As for the advice, it’s already in a mutual fund so it’s fine to leave it there. I also disagree with the advice…

    Posted by Patrick | October 26, 2007, 3:04 pm
  16. @Patrick:
    To you, the accent might not be noticeable, but to me it is really strong. I’ve seen that lots of Americans struggle with British regional accents that I can understand quite easily, so it’s no surprise to find that the reverse happens. English doesn’t sound the same everywhere.

    Whether newly-weds should make important purchases close to their wedding depends a lot on the couple involved. Engaged pairs who have been committed cohabitees for several years, are different to those who haven’t left their parental home.

    Posted by plonkee | October 26, 2007, 3:19 pm
  17. Very good conversation going on here — I learned something about Southern accents being tough to understand and Dave Ramsey’s advice. I personally would go 50/50 on Ramsey’s advice. If my money were in a mutual fund account already, I’d lighten the amount by half say, and place it in a money market account. I’d like to reduce the risk even just a bit.

    But I can see that it all depends on how gung ho you are about getting the house. If you don’t mind keeping money around in a mutual fund and taking on that risk, when something bad happens, worst case scenario — you don’t get to buy the house. Is it that bad?

    Posted by The Digerati Life | October 26, 2007, 3:44 pm
  18. @The Digerati Life:
    That’s a good point, after all the way to wealth almost certainly isn’t in the house that you live in. I reckon lots of people would think it was pretty bad, but lots of people can easily be wrong.

    Posted by plonkee | October 26, 2007, 4:09 pm
  19. Oh dear, am I some kind of standard of heavy commenting, rocketc?

    I wouldn’t put it into a mutual fund either. Leave it in, yes.

    From what I know of his advice, he probably would have suggested something short-term and guaranteed like a CD where they can’t blow it but also can get to it. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit, but that’s my thought.

    Oh, and if you’re “living in sin” he’s more reluctant to help you…I hear.

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | October 26, 2007, 11:17 pm
  20. I’m glad you caught your mistake, because ironically, just liked you re-rouond the call, I re-read YOUR post twice to make sure I’d read it correctly. I was like, “There is no way Ramsey told someone to put short-term money in a mutual fund. I’ve been listening to the man ever day for three years, and he would just never say that. LOL.”

    You’re right. That would have been very bad financial advice.

    Posted by MoneyDummy | October 27, 2007, 2:53 pm
  21. Dave made a couple of mistakes. I think the worst I heard when a Chiroprator called in and had $200,000 in student loan debt. He wanted to still invest in his 401k or IRA. Dave says NO, pay all the debt off first and then invest regardless of how long it will take. !!

    Wow, he could have let him invest at least 4% to retirement. Had had at least 5 or 6 yrs to pay it off on his salary. That is a long time to delay retirement.

    Overall Dave makes sense, but sometimes he slips up.

    Posted by Moneymonk | October 29, 2007, 4:51 pm
  22. For simplicity’s sake, if nothing else, Dave Ramsey has always taken the “there is only one way to handle one’s finances” approach.

    In general, I like his advice, but I agree with MoneyMonk–to stop paying into a retirement fund entirely while reducing debt doesn’t always work, especially for someone like me who got a very late start on retirement funding in the first place.

    As for accents? Blimey! Ya’all heard an accent?

    Posted by Grace | October 29, 2007, 6:27 pm
  23. I’m glad you decided to change your opinion.

    The main reason Dave tells everyone not to buy a house in the 1st year of marriage. You don’t need to add all this stress to a fresh marriage! You shouldn’t be spending your first year renovating a house or picking out curtains. You should focus on your Marriage.
    Also you don’t know how close to your in-laws to buy until you have been married for a year.

    Dave has helped me immensely. I have always been a motivated individual with a decent income but I can say, with 100% confidence, that his teachings have made me more effective, since listening to Dave and applying his principals I have more than doubled my Income. I now owe less money and I have a rock solid plan for the future.
    Without Dave I don’t know how long I would have walked through life like a blind idiot spending most of the money I made. I’m sure I would have increased my income but not doubled it, and I would have had a plan to spend all the extra money I made on STUFF. Now almost debt free, I have an Emergency Fund and soon I’ll be able to invest much of my income to build wealth.

    Thank you Dave!

    Posted by Kaiser | November 8, 2007, 3:17 pm
  24. @ Moneymonk

    The reason Dave says don’t invest while you have debt is because once you are Out of debt you can invest more.

    I fully understand compound interest and the benefits of early investing. But Personal Finance is more about BEHAVIOR than MATH. If we where doing Math we wouldn’t have any Debt to begin with.

    If you are just going to drag paying the debt off over 10 years then yes, keep investing.

    If you are going to get MAD at the debt, work an extra job, sell stuff on eBay make extra money so you can get rid of the debt Quickly then definitely hold off investing until you are debt free. You have to get intense for this to work.

    Posted by Kaiser | November 8, 2007, 3:27 pm
  25. oh and not investing for short term should give you the motivation to get intense and pay the debt of quickly. So you can invest again.

    That’s why it’s about behavior, not math.

    Behavior is supreme to math in personal finance.

    No matter what my income, I can always spend more money than I make, I have to change behavior if I want to win with money.

    Posted by Kaiser | November 8, 2007, 3:29 pm
  26. The advice about not buying a house in the first year of marriage basically assumes a very traditional view of when people get married.

    I agree that personal finance is a lot about behaviour, but you can’t ignore the maths.

    Posted by plonkee | November 8, 2007, 7:37 pm
  27. Hey plonkee,

    you are absolutely right, to ignore the math would be foolish.

    My point is that my Behavior supersedes math in personal finance.

    People don’t get out of debt until they modify behavior. Three things are needed to change behavior and create s habit.
    1. Knowledge- what to do and why
    2. Skills - how to do it
    3. Desire - the want to do it

    I feel like I always had the first two, it’s when I added the Desire to change, that’s when things started to change for me.

    In the beginning I focused on the Math first. I surfed Credit Cards for the best Interest rate, always looking for a deal. Yet my debt never really went away.

    The big brake-through for me came when I dealt with myself, when I stood up and I said “I have had it, I’m not living like this anymore”
    That’s when I started to attack my debt with intensity and my debt went away quickly. It went away only after I changed my behavior.

    I’m still diligent when it comes to the math, but math didn’t make me get out of debt. I became successful only after I worked on myself and my behavior.

    Larry Burkett used to say “Money Problems isn’t the problem, it’s the symptom.”

    In my case debt was the symptom of my immaturity and my overspending.

    Posted by Kaiser | November 8, 2007, 9:19 pm
  28. YOU ARE POINT ON!! Dave Ramsey DOES Give Bad Advice!!! He know nothing about money or our (US) current financial situation. I solute all of you who are not in the US. You will be way better off than us here in the US. Check out Peter Schiff from EUROPAC.net

    Posted by Joe | February 15, 2008, 7:47 pm
  29. Dave, has some strange idea that people will eat beans and rice and pay down their debt diligently, I have $250,000 in debt, my wife and I make approximately 85,000 between us, we have no kids. My wife has one job and I teach and work two day a week at a second job. Dave, people have to live and stay married if they are married, try putting beans and rice in front of a woman for the third day, and see how long, she will be around. You will then have one income and a divorce on your hand, which will cost you even more money. It is easy to preach once you have reached the mountain top. Please be considerate of those below. We like to eat at expensive restaurants once every three months, or stay at a hotel and be pampered. I know shame on us. Well, I know everyone is going to live to be eighty years old and then die peacefully. Get real Dave Sh*t happens.

    Posted by Aaron | March 30, 2008, 4:28 am
  30. even Dave makes mistakes and freely admits it. Not as big as calling someone an utter fool, but mistakes none the less. :-)


    Posted by fielding j. hurst | April 14, 2008, 1:44 am
  31. If people are paying off their debt and becoming financially independent, I suppose something is working for them, but if sacrifice is a problem in a marriage, that’s a marriage problem not a money problem. Ignorance must be bliss with the financially disabled.

    Posted by Albert | July 8, 2008, 9:01 pm
  32. I just had to laugh when I read it. But yep I agree it depends on the couple. I bought a condo with my Boyfriend of 2 years about 6 years ago. He’s now my DH, and it took us another 3 years to get married after buying the condo.

    We bought the condo instead of getting married because we figured we’ll get there eventually. And even then we only got married for economical reasons.

    Lack of committment? Not really. We’ve been together about 9 years. Just not really caring about the piece of paper.

    Posted by LivingAlmostLarge | August 19, 2008, 3:17 pm
  33. Amazing, when a guy like Dave Ramsey gets it right 95 percent of the time that people jump on the 5 percent. I know the plan and we paid of over $40K of debt in less than 2 years. I don’t agree with everything Dave says, but it’s his show. I think the 2 minute phone problem solving he does qualifies for a Dr. Phil approach, but his plan is solid. We wrote our plan Does God Prefer Paper or Plastic. We teach it to others for FREE. Dave charges $100 for a $15 book and some classes.

    Posted by Dan Williams | April 21, 2009, 12:38 am
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  36. Dave Ramsey, you are the man! :)

    Posted by Search Engine Optimization | March 28, 2010, 6:04 pm
  37. dumbass brit.

    Posted by jay | June 12, 2010, 8:31 pm
  38. Dave isn’t from Mississippi. He is from Tennessee. He has a Tennessee accent. Just FYI.

    I generally recommend Dave Ramsey’s program to my friends who are thick-skinned and can handle his “tough love” approach.

    I signed up for his Financial Peace University course after Christmas, although I had maybe only $100 on a credit card, I wanted to learn as much as I could about personal finance. His approach is common-sense, and easy to learn, so it always works for people who actually *do* the program.

    His communication style might seem brusque to some. To my more, er, emotionally sensitive/easily insulted friends, I usually recommend California debt expert Mary Hunt, author of “Debt-Proof Living.” Her book “The Cheapskate Monthly Money Makeover” is a good action plan, as is DPL. Her system is more or less parallel to Dave’s; her communication style is just different.

    @Aaron - “beans and rice” is a metaphor. Dave just means: eat cheaply, and at home. If you’re on Dave’s plan you “won’t see the inside of a restaurant unless you work there.” That’s what “Beans & Rice” stands for. He doesn’t mean you should literally eat beans and rice every day. People of Southern Appalachia (including Tennessee, and Kentucky-where I’m from) like to use a lot of colorful metaphors and expressions in speaking. Try not to take them so literally. :-)

    Posted by vicki | June 20, 2010, 12:47 pm
  39. dumbass brit

    Posted by Justin | October 9, 2010, 2:15 am
  40. The advent of the Twitter Analytics has been rumored about and an executive at Twitter even stated earlier in the year that Analytics would emerge.

    Posted by stairlifts | November 18, 2010, 6:02 pm
  41. Dave’s “no debt” gospel is OK for people who have no discipline, but he often gives bad advice. He says avoid bonds and put all your money in stocks. This is terribly risky and foolish. Many renowned money experts agree that have a good portion of your investments in bonds is a good idea and protects you from stock market crashes while providing steady income with almost no risk. He doesn’t bother to research this.

    Posted by Tom Aiken | November 24, 2010, 1:01 am
  42. just a note to see if you wish to have some mildly stale info. my wife and I rode our bikes in chile and argentina for six weeks last march.

    Posted by computer repair | December 14, 2010, 6:51 pm

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