Why I want to be the “Dave Ramsey for the heathens”

Dave Ramsey has helped millions, but he ignores LGBT, polyamory, and nontraditional communities. So I’m bringing the good ideas to everyone.

Are you familiar with “The Five Love Languages” book by Gary Chapman?

It’s a book that describes the different ways that we feel and express love and affection, and shows how in relationships we can sometimes run into trouble because we may express our love for someone in ways that are not what they are asking for.

The ideas in this book are great. They frame relationships and connection in a very accessible, easy-to-follow manner, and give people a common language in which to discuss their needs.

But ho boy, are there some problems with that book.

The author is heavily religious, which, okay, fine, but also, he clearly sees a marriage as between a man and a woman, and also equates a long-term relationship to a marriage, two assertions that are not borne out by many people’s reality.

He also suggests desire for others outside of the relationship as being pathological and wrong, which completely ignores the thousands of people who practice polyamory or some other form of consensual non-monogamy.

And so, people reading this book who don’t fit into the Christian, hetero, monogamous perspective may very likely feel alienated by the book. The book isn’t “talking to them”.

And that’s too bad, because the book has great advice for anyone and everyone, regardless of their lifestyle.

Good information that’s couched in bias or exclusionary language will not be heard by everyone who needs it.

And that’s why I want to be the “Dave Ramsey for the heathens”. Or, in short, for the rest of us.

Meet Dave

Dave Ramsey is a financial media personality, famous for his radio show, his book “The Total Money Makeover” and his “Seven Baby Steps

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I discovered Dave while driving across the country, listening to AM radio late at night. Somewhere around Utah, I encountered this seeming lunatic talking about how you can become a millionaire with $100 a month. “It’s $100 dollars a month, latte breath!” I remember him yelling.

Who is this guy?

What I found, after listening to him talk over many hours and seeing him in-person at a live event, was that when he talked about money, he was engaging, effective, persuasive, motivating, and entertaining.

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But when he went off his money script, what came out of his mouth was alienating, dismissive, phobic, and very very exclusionary.

It’s no surprise to learn that Dave Ramsey is an evangelical Christian. That’s part of his image. His “smoosh”, to borrow Emilie Wapnick’s term, is “financial wellness and Christianity”. He is a money guru with a religious hook.

But in addition, he subscribes to a lot of other beliefs that I find off-putting, and not just that he believes the system is not rigged in favor of certain people in positions of privilege. (Okay, we might agree that anyone is able to become wealthy, but I strongly submit that some people have it a lot harder than others, and it doesn’t need to be that way.)

His views on government and taxation aren’t ones I can get behind. On one show (sorry I can’t find the link, and am paraphrasing), he actually said, “Get your politics out of the discussion. Who is better at creating jobs, private companies or the government? It’s not the government!” Putting aside how nakedly political that is, it’s also flat wrong.

But also, you will never see a same-sex couple do one of his “debt-free screams” on his show.

I’ve actually been personally told by a member of his organization that when it comes to financial coaching, if a couple is unmarried, they will be charged double, as if they were two separate clients. Double! Because apparently, they are “living in sin” or something.

Obviously, we can stop here before we even look for support and inclusion for trans people, or any other part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Big ideas, big celebrity, bigotry

Dave is free to hold whatever beliefs he wants.

Dave has some really good ideas about money and has helped millions of people along the way. But I doubt many people who aren’t in his target demographic have either heard of him or would listen to him if they could. His bias is just too pervasive and unavoidable.

Here’s my point: why should the people who fit into his narrow demographic be the only recipients of his good financial ideas?

It doesn’t seem right to me.

(Granted, I don’t agree with everything he says about money.)

Speaking to the ignored

Financial media in general doesn’t speak very well to those in nontraditional lifestyles and communities. But why should the cis het white folks get any more breaks than they already have?

And speaking as a cis het white person, I (perhaps surprisingly) feel suited to help bring good financial information to everyone. Because I have so much privilege, I can pass easily in the traditional financial world, listening to messages that are seemingly “for people like me” and pass them on to other communities.

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Because I don’t fit 100% into dominant culture either. A lot of people don’t, even if they seem like they do.

So my mission from the beginning has been to be the “Dave Ramsey for the heathens”. Of course, I’m being tongue-in-cheek here. What I mean of course, is that I want to bring the best possible messages of financial wellness and empowerment to the people for whom traditional financial media is not speaking. The rest of us.

We all deserve the same level of financial education, because we are all equally deserving of success and wellness. And right now, we are so far away from that as a reality. Let’s get to work.

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