Over the past several decades, Dave Ramsey has been advising regular folks on everything from paying off debt to buying a first home and saving for retirement. He’s an evangelical Christian the author of seven best-selling personal finance books, including “The Total Money Makeover.” Not to mention the host of “The Dave Ramsey Show,” which is heard by about 16 million listeners each week on multiple radio stations and digital platforms.
His personal finance advice for folks revolves around seven simple steps, “baby steps” as he likes to call them, which include:
- Saving $1,000 for a starter emergency fund.
- Paying off all debt (except your house) by using the debt snowball method (more on that below).
- Saving three to six months of expenses for a fully funded emergency stash.
- Investing 15% of your household income for retirement.
- Saving for your child’s college fund.
- Paying off your home early.
- Building wealth and giving (some) away
So today on LA Daily Finance, we wanted to get to know the man behind the mic better and ask him some of the burning personal finance questions we’ve gotten from readers. Here’s what Dave Ramsey had to say in our first Q&A:
How does Christianity inform how you manage your money and the financial advice you provide to others?
For 30 years we’ve taught “God’s and Grandma’s” way of saving money. Live on less than you make, budget, save, and stay away from debt. Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else. The world tells you YOLO! You only live once! That gets a lot of people in trouble.
Whose financial advice do you take and why? Who inspires you?
In the early days, I read people like Ron Blue, Larry Burkett, and Howard Dayton and it hit home for me. My wife Sharon and I started living by those principles and it started working.
What’s your advice for young people in their 20s looking to invest a part of their income?
There is positive ambition – a great entrepreneurial zeal – out there among Millennials and Gen Zs. I talk to them on my radio show every day. My advice is to slow down a little bit, especially if you’re thinking of investing in real estate. Go slow, be methodical and pay cash. Stay out of debt, and for heaven’s sake, don’t invest everything you have in super high-risk crap. We recommend when you’re out of debt and you’ve saved a fully-funded emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses, investing 15% in tax-favored retirement accounts and good growth stock mutual funds.
What’s the worst financial advice you’ve received? Why?
There are a lot of broke finance professors teaching about leveraging “good debt.” I had a couple of those. But truthfully, in my early 20s, I was the one who had most of the bad theories. What I know now is there is no “good debt,” and that risk is real. We learned it in 2008, and we learned it again in the pandemic. When you have debt, you are susceptible to getting your head taken off. So many years ago, I decided to be and live debt-free as the shortest path to becoming and staying wealthy.
Crypto is a hot topic right now. What are your thoughts on Bitcoin and other speculative investments?
Someday, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin may become a stabilized currency, but we’re not there yet. Bitcoin is volatile, unproven with a very little track record, and investing in it is risky. I personally invest in real estate and four mutual funds: growth, aggressive growth, growth and income, and international. Now, I know this is boring and predictable, but it also works. Invest in things you understand and have a history of data you can see.
What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?
Papa Dave. A man who loved Jesus and accepted His gift of grace. A good husband, father, and grandfather.