National Edition

Dave Ramsey talks faith, finances and fame in exclusive Q&A

Published: Monday, June 2 2014 4:10 a.m. MDT

DN: How much does people's relationship with or attitude toward money affect their finances?

Rachel Cruze: As believers, we believe that we are managers of what we have been given. It's not ours. So when you function in the mentality of a manager versus an owner it changes everything. … So OK, this is God's money. He has given it to us to manage. So what do we do with it? So that is one relationship that we have when it comes to money.

Dave Ramsey: What your beliefs are about anything creates your actions. What you believe about marriage creates the way you handle your marriage. What you believe about raising kids creates the way you do that. What you believe about your career. What you believe about money. And the problem is some of us have bad beliefs. We believe the wrong things. We believe negative things that have been said to us growing up. In the neighborhood where I grew up it was a rough neighborhood, well, not rough, but it certainly wasn't upper class or anything. But I remember hearing things like, 'The little man just can't get ahead.' And if you start to believe that, then you know what, you don't get ahead.

God and gratitude

At the evening event, Ramsey walked around the stage interacting with various props — including an old pedestal kitchen table like the one he had when he went bankrupt. He told the crowd there are three views of wealth. The first he called "pride" — that wealth "is from me." The second he called the "spirit of poverty" view — that wealth "is evil." The last, and what he called the correct view of wealth, is "gratitude" — that wealth "is from God."

"(Saying) 'It's my money' there is kind of a selfishness almost in that," he said. "And I've done that. Lord forgive me."

DN: Do you ever get concerned that our lives and the economy are based upon spending and consumption?

Dave Ramsey: I think it is the old country song of looking for love in all the wrong places. There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but when you are trying to buy nice things to be happy, you are going to hurt. It's not going to work. There is a hole in your soul, (Blaise) Pascal said, and it can't be filled by stuff. There is only one thing that fills that hole, and that's God. There is a God-sized hole in your soul. … Some people try to throw stuff into the hole: bigger car, bigger house, bigger vacation, more debt associated with it. … And it just doesn't work for them.

Fame and fortune

The audience showed a deep emotional connection with Ramsey when he grabbed a chain and began winding it around his wrists to show the effects of debt. "We come out with student loan debt. Then we buy a car. Then we buy a house."

With each mention of a debt, the chain bound him more and more. His voice rose and fell. The crowd responded in kind with laughs and applause. This wasn't just a show, it was their lives being depicted in cathartic crescendo.

Then, the chain was thrown aside and the shears came out, large scissors Ramsey opened and closed with a loud clippety, clippety staccato. When an audience member handed Ramsey some credit cards to cut up, the crowd yelled and hooted with encouragement.

Ramsey picked one card out, balanced it in the scissor blades before declaring judgment:

"Citibank? What's in your wallet? Money." Clip. The two halves fly off onto the stage floor.

He placed another doomed card on the blades.

"Lowes? I love Lowes. They take cash." Clip. Another card went down.

The crowd shouted as if Ramsey was a champion gladiator who defeated what he and his followers see as an evil foe — credit cards.