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Forgive Us Our Debts: The Debt Counseling Experiment – Part 2

In the debt consolidation world, Dave Ramsey is kind of a big deal.

I was investigating whether these debt counseling services were scams [Read Part 1 here], when I came across Dave Ramsey, a nationally-syndicated radio host and New York Times bestselling author. The Dave Ramsey view of credit cards and debt is a unique one (i.e. controversial to say the least) but he specializes in debt reduction, so I called his office and spoke with one of his employees, Linda.

Dave Ramsey

I liked Linda from the beginning. She was courteous, but no-nonsense. She gave it straight up, like a nurse with a foot-long needle.

“I’m about $40,000 in debt,” I confessed. “I’ve got this girlfriend who spends and spends…”

Your money?” she interrupted.

“Yeah.”

“Why are you giving her your money to spend?”

“Ah…” I stammered. “She’s very persuasive.”

“Okay,” she said, but you could tell it wasn’t okay.

“So I pay off the bare minimum each month…” I continued.

“This is not going to get you anywhere,” she interrupted again. “Have you started any of the Baby Steps® yet?”

“No, we don’t want to have children,” I said.

“No, the Baby Steps®. Have you started the Emergency Fund®? Have you cut up the cards? You have to stop the leak before you can get anywhere.™ If your girlfriend wants to use credit cards, she’s got to get her own. I mean, there’s no excuse for that. That’s just bad behavior.”

“I guess so,” I said meekly.

“It’d be different if she was your fiancée, or your wife. Then we’d talk about some marriage counseling to get you on the same page. But if it’s something she wants, then she needs to buy it.

Nurse

Nurse Linda puts on the exam glove.

“Should I break up with her?” I asked.

“That’s up to you. But it sounds to me like somebody has some growing up to do.”

“That’s true,” I confessed. “She’s 16.”

“Here’s what you need to do.” Linda cut to the chase. “First, get a $1,000 Emergency Fund®. Sell some things, get an extra job, do whatever it takes. Then cut up the plastic. Work through the Debt Snowball®.”

I had a feeling I needed to read Dave’s book in order to understand what the heck she was talking about. “Hey, since Dave is so successful, could he lend me some money?”

“Dave does not lend money,” she said. “He doesn’t believe in debt at all. He’s very weird that way. No debt.”

Dave Ramsey Cutting Up Credit Cards

Those scissors frighten me.

“If he gave me some money, it would help me pay off my debt, so it would accomplish what he’s trying to do.”

“He is doing a drawing this month,” she said. “If you go to the Web site, he’s giving away free money every day.”

“Like the lottery,” I said, trying to figure out why a financial advisor would be running a lottery.

“But even if you won the lottery tomorrow, you’d have to change your habits, or you’d be back in the same position.”

“Is there any way I could talk to him?” I asked. “I’m pretty persuasive. He’ll give me some money.”

“You’re welcome to talk to him on the air,” she said, giving me the radio call-in number. “Until then, I think your first step is to read Dave’s book.”

RESULTS
Lower interest payments: NO
Break up with girlfriend: NO
Pay off as much as you can: NO
Cut up credit cards: YES
FINAL SCORE: 25%

The scores were going downhill. But they were about to fly off the cliff altogether.

Please continue to Test #3: The Worst Advice of All!

Credit Card Debt Debt Goal Debt Consolidation Care


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Always Never Sometimes