Dave Ramsey talks faith, finances and fame in exclusive Q&A
Since his appearance in Salt Lake City, an article in The Daily Beast recounted claims by some former and current employees of Ramsey that he doesn't tolerate criticism in the workplace. While he was in Salt Lake, he talked about fame and his critics.
DN: Isn't fame a danger? You have to market your name to do what you do. In a sense you become the product. But isn't that dangerous for you from a spiritual standpoint?
Dave Ramsey: I think scripture is pretty clear. Wealth, fame and power are tools. And, again, if you continue to realize you are not the owner of it, and you are actually not the creator of it, it's called a blessing, and the Bible is pretty clear, we were blessed so that we can be a blessing. I got to tell you there is another side to it, and that is all the hate that you get. The dead animals in your mailbox and the hate. You know the hate mail that you get. It's strange. It's very, very strange. But you got to remember, what it comes down to is, they don't hate me. They don't know me. There is something broken in their life, and something we said touched a nerve. It touched a hurt place in them and so they erupt and say "Dave Ramsey is evil" or "you must be punished" or "we are going to kill your dog." It is all these crazy crazies out there. But, again, you got to remember, ten million people have bought my books. If 1 percent of Americans are crazy, that's a lot of crazy in my life.
Legacy and pain
Kory Scadden and his 14-year-old daughter, Sadie, stood in the lobby and talked about Ramsey's show during the intermission. People surged by them to get into various lines to buy Ramsey's books, DVDs and other items for sale with "tonight only" discounts.
Scadden and his wife took a Financial Peace University course at the local St. Paul's United Methodist Church, and he is excited to have his daughter learn some of the principles that are beginning to turn his financial life around. Sadie thinks so too. "I think it is really good to know what you should do to save up your money so you don't end up broke," she said.
"And end up living in your parents' basement," Scadden joked.
"Let's not do that!" she responded.
Scadden, who is a hospice chaplain and also teaches high school religious education classes for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said he thinks God wants people to become debt free. "When you are taking good care of your money and it is working for you, there is a lot more peace and happiness inside the family," he says.
DN: What is leaving a legacy to your family all about?
Rachel Cruze: From my perspective, being born the year (my parents) filed for bankruptcy as they started figuring out God's and grandma's ways of handling money, if you will, they were instilling in us kids how to do that through their example. And because of that, in our family tree, there is a generation now of us kids who don't have to feel that pain and that hurt.
The pain of Ramsey's personal failures are in the past, but not forgotten. He brings them out often on his radio show as he advises people who made dumb mistakes. "I've got a degree in stupid," he likes to say.
His faith walk is part of who he is, he doesn't compartmentalize it, he said. You could take away his success and his core would still be there.
DN: You lost it all once. What if that happened now? If things came crashing down, where would you be?
Dave Ramsey: It would be horrible, obviously. It would hurt. (But) the second time you get on a bike, after you balanced it the first time, you believe it. And so you balance it again. And so, if I lost everything, as long as I didn't lose my faith and lose my hope in the process, oh, it'll be back quick, really, devastatingly fast.
Throughout the evening, Ramsey's points are punctuated with scriptures like 1 Timothy 5:8, Proverbs 29:18, Luke 14:28. Ramsey and his daughter covered investments and teaching children how to handle money and other topics. The second half of the show moved over the material quickly. It was getting late and tomorrow there was work. And bills to be paid.
"God bless you," Ramsey said, and he was gone.
People filed out of the concert hall but they were not done. They gathered in small groups in the lobby and even outside and talk about what they learned. Things will get better. They know what to do. They are believers.