“It’s just me trying to love people well.” That is how Dave Ramsey summed up his financial advice, the goal that underlies his direct approach of calling out bad money habits.
Dave is a well-known financial advisor, especially in Christian circles. Besides being a radio show host, speaker, and author, many people know him as the creator of the popular Financial Peace program. CDF Capital enjoyed the opportunity to sit down and chat with Dave for a few minutes at a Catalyst leadership conference earlier this year. While everyone has different viewpoints on the specifics of financial matters, Dave has insight we can learn from.
Why—Not Just How
Dave began his financial ministry around 30 years ago. We asked how his advice has changed over the decades and what has stayed the same. Dave said, “It might be me aging or it might be me adjusting the message to the audience, but I do focus a lot these days on why we do stuff. If you know why you do something, you can really band together and get after it.”
"If you know why you do something, you can really band together and get after it."—@DaveRamsey
One example he gave was this: “A husband and wife say, ‘We’re going to sacrifice and live now like no one else, so that later we can live and give like no one else. We know why we’re doing this. We’re not going out to eat so that we can get rid of the student loan . . . so that our kids can go to school without a student loan . . . so that we can retire with dignity . . . so that we can increase our generosity. Now we know our why, and then we can sacrifice to do that.’”
Dave said that having a reason behind action is the best motivator for the people he talks to these days. “I spend a lot more of my time doing why more than what or how.
“I spend a lot more of my time doing why more than what or how."—@DaveRamsey
"I used to talk about a lot of the tactical stuff over and over, and you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to give people a path on how to do stuff. But if they don’t have the aspirational why, then they’re not going to do it—whether it’s leading your team or leading your family or trying to get someone to think differently about their money.”
The Millennial Mindset
Looking at changes as far as generational tendencies go, Dave noted that young adults today truly have the same problems and also the same opportunities as previous generations. However “some of them are manifesting themselves differently. For instance, the Baby Boomers had a real problem with credit card debt. There’s still a problem nationally with credit card debt, but the Millennials have a bigger problem with student loans. That’s a top of mind thing in the culture right now—we’re all aware of that.”
While he acknowledged the bad rap that Millennials sometimes receive, he noted, “I’m really, really encouraged with the Millennials I interact with.” Dave speaks from experience. In his company, the average age of employees is 27. And he does not mince words about the younger generation. “I find them one of two things: awesome or horrible. They’re not really ever in between. Either they’re entitled, little spoiled brats or some of the most crusade-driven, passionate, wonderful, care-deeply-about-everything kind of people.” Dave said that he strives to harness Millennials’ passion for their benefit.
“I say to them, you want to save the world with your generosity? You’ve got to get yourself cleaned up before you can do that. . . . We’ve got to get you out of debt so your generosity factor can go up.” Dave has seen this point of view light a spark for Millennials. “When they get fired up and apply that social crusade mentality to cleaning up their own house so that they can be more effective ministers in the marketplace, I see wonderful things happen. I’ve got a lot of them showing up in my lobby doing debt-free screams. It is so fun.”
Financial Connects to Spiritual
Dave reflected on the fact that, after all these years of being a voice in the financial realm, not only has he helped others, his own relationship with God has grown. “Hopefully my faith has matured, and I’ve emotionally matured, I hope. . . . When we had two people working on our team I had to be a different kind of a leader. I was a young leader and didn’t know what I was doing. Now I’ve got 600. And so how do you lead? . . . You have to be more attentive and more careful and more detail-oriented and more concerned about excellence. In that sense my walk with God has intensified because the responsibilities have intensified.”
When God blesses us with resources, we can use those resources to bless others.
As we have seen in our own experiences, and as our conversation with Dave affirmed, our financial decisions connect to other aspects of our lives, including the spiritual. When God blesses us with resources, we can use those resources to bless others. Seek God’s guidance and look for ways that you can save, invest, and donate in order to build His Kingdom, support those in need, and help churches grow.
Learn more about how CDF Capital helps churches grow and how you can join us.