In response to my last few blogs about personal finance, I received an email asking for my thoughts about author and radio host Dave Ramsey. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t), Ramsey hosts The Ramsey Show and has authored best-selling books such as The Total Money Makeover. Politico calls him “the pro bono financial advisor to millions of Americans who otherwise could never afford one.” His self-syndicated show has a staggering 14 million listeners (Wikipedia), putting him just behind conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in popularity.
Forty percent of adults are unable to pay for an unexpected expense of $400 or more without selling something or borrowing money (Federal Reserve Board). Given this, it’s fair to say much of the financial advice you read about doesn’t apply to everyone. Telling someone who is working two minimum wage jobs while supporting a family with medical bills that he should accelerate mortgage payments or save 15 percent for retirement is likely to result in more than an eye roll.
Influenced by YouTube commercials featuring folks with big houses and expensive cars, my ten-year-old son recently asked me, “How do people become wealthy?” I responded with a discussion about the difference between consumption and wealth and as I did so, couldn’t help but reflect upon some of the lessons I learned from my parents.