I Don't Hate the Baby Steps!!
Updated: 5 days ago
For the record - I don’t hate Dave Ramsey’s financial plan. Any financial plan is better than no plan and his “Baby Steps” are a perfectly rational way to manage your money. The Baby Steps are a proven method of simplifying money management for the masses - the Baby Steps work!
But you’re not the masses are you? And for all of his talk, Dave Ramsey didn’t go into debt to pay his college tuition, or medical bills. He was never a struggling single parent or a middle class couple trying to get ahead. He was an entrepreneur that leveraged (borrowed) money to invest in real estate and lost his investments. That’s how he ended up in bankruptcy and that’s why he hates debt. The fact is, he has developed his financial advice based, in part, on his experience with bankruptcy and debt. And that’s fine - but does it make sense to apply his experience to your financial condition? Do the Baby Steps apply to your situation?
My issue with Dave Ramsey is that he doesn't acknowledge his privilege in his advice. When he's rallying against all debt, he doesn't acknowledge that many of us had to have student loans to get the college education to get to the position in life that he was born with. He doesn't acknowledge that there is a certain amount of privilege that would allow you to qualify for the loans to make the real estate deals that caused his bankruptcy. He started in a position that many of us work our whole lives to get to. It aggravates me to no end that he's so adamant and so callous about situations that he's never been in - it's the privilege and the arrogance for me. That doesn't mean his advice is wrong. It means that I personally filter his advice through my own experience and that of my friends and family and it just doesn't pass the test for me.
No part of money management should leave you feeling ashamed or embarrassed. The idea is to educate and empower you to make a change for yourself. If you are doing it for any other reason, it won’t last - and you’ll be back where you started eventually. There is nothing magical about Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. (I happen to think some of them are just plain wrong, but that's a post for another day). The magic comes from having a strategic plan for your money and holding yourself accountable to the plan. And if Ramsey’s Baby Steps are the best way for you, then I sincerely believe you should work that plan. Give yourself some grace as you listen to Dave Ramsey - take what works and throw out the rest.