Putting Up With Dave Ramsey for 9 Weeks is Worth It
Let me preface what I'm about to say: I don't like seminars. I don't like classes. I am almost completely unable to pay attention when I am stuck in one place and someone is talking to me from a stage or a big screen. On very rare occasions, a teacher will get the point across. The rest of the time, I'm thinking about food and sex and television approximately 3 minutes into any presentation. And, oh, hey, also? I have an innate distrust of anything produced by the mainstream evangelical church, a subculture wired to dumb things down for audiences.
That said, Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University changed my life.
I'm not saying it wasn't painful. I usually slumped in my seat at a couple jokes per week, and the audience's laughter beats reinforced the same Southern Conservative Evangelical stereotype college sketch groups have been mining for thirty years now. We went through a mini "graduation" ceremony at the end and we had to clap for everyone. I really didn't like that part.
Ultimately, though, it's the final score that matters. We paid off six credit cards, saved a little money, didn't go over our monthly budget for the first time in a long time, and drastically improved the way we talk and think and communicate about money.
And, really, for this type of presentation, FPU wasn't bad. Ramsey is an engaging speaker and an excellent salesman, but like most salesmen he talks down to his audience at times. Wisely, the seminar's organizers have managed to work in other presenters to break up the monotony. Ramsey's daughter, Rachel Cruze, sees the most screen time, and while she's a competent speaker, she lacks the charisma to pull an audience in. It's a shame, too, because she's the only female voice in the class. (Ramsey's wife appears onstage during the final episode, only to mutter a couple words. She's clearly not into the hoopla side of financial peace, and I can't say I blame her.) The other two guest speakers, Stuff Christians Like creator Jon Acuff and real estate expert Chris Hogan, were really good. I've always seen Acuff as the next generation of fuzzy Christian comedian, but, at least he'll be a bit funnier than his predecessors. Hogan is the real star, easily FPU's most compelling speaker, but he was only there to talk about real estate.
Here's my point: I understand if you are reluctant to go through this class. I would be. But the only reason for suspicion here is the presentation (which, granted, matters a great deal). The fundamentals of what Dave Ramsey teaches are solid, with a focus on generosity, personal growth, and good stewardship. I feel like a different person than I was nine weeks ago, and I'll take that even if it means sitting through some cheesy anti-government jokes for two months.
You should also go read Stephanie Drury's take on Dave over at Stuff Christian Culture Likes.