5 Lessons Learned From Financial Expert Dave Ramsey

Tricia Chadwick

Thinking like the financial hero can change your relationship with your finances for the better.


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

While the pandemic has been brutal for everyone, the pain inflicted has mainly harmed those already struggling. While the top earners in the United States saw their income rise by 85%, the country’s lowest earners had the highest job loss, according to University of Chicago researchers.

Americans historically have been terrible with money, and this was before the pandemic. 

We don’t save for unexpected emergencies. We aren’t great at saving for expected needs either, such as retirement. 

The temptation to buy is everywhere, and corporations push their products hard! They make their wares feel like needs. 

The blame also lies with the rising cost of living. It has risen beyond what can be considered reasonable, and wages have not kept up. 

Consider this advice from Alissa Quart, executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and author of Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America.

“Stop blaming yourself and start blaming the system, or start blaming the deeper causes of your economic fragility and instability,” Quart tells CNBC Make It. “There are forces that are constructed against you, everything from your taxes to whether you can have job security.” 

What can we do if the system is set up to work against us? While this information may be disheartening, it is not a reason to give up, and all hope is not lost. 

With careful planning and a change in mindset, you can beat the system.

And as Dave Ramsey says,

“Live like no else today, so you can live like no else tomorrow.”

The changes you make now may feel like a sacrifice, but the control you gain over your money will allow you financial freedom in the future. Your future self will reap the benefits.

By following Dave’s advice, you can simplify your finances and take control of your financial future.

  1. Prioritize Needs over Wants
  2. Make small changes to your spending and saving habits
  3. Visualize financial security for your future self
  4. It’s possible with the right mindset

Needs vs. Wants

“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” ― Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

This bit of advice from Dave hits home as a parent. When you have kids, life speeds up. You are rushing from one activity to the next, attending birthday parties, and reaching milestones. 

It can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing your family to others in your circle. 

You want to give your children the best of everything, so of course, you need that trip to Disney World. That is just the thinking that can get you into financial trouble.  

Dave Ramsey is a master at straight talk and offers reminders that there is a difference between needs and wants. If your children have what they need, you are doing your job as a parent. You are not required to fulfill every want. 

And remember, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. That happy family from dance that just returned from Disney? They are most likely in massive credit card debt, as are 42% of Americans. 

You must be willing to change your habits.

“Change is painful. Few people have the courage to seek out change. Most people won’t change until the pain of where they are exceeds the pain of change.” ― Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Change can seem hard until you realize the alternative is much more difficult. 

You might think there is no way you can live without your beautiful SUV, but when you realize that cutting out your monthly car payment will allow you to pay off your credit card debt in mere months? The choice suddenly becomes painless. 

The discomfort of doing without certain luxuries is worthwhile in the face of decades of financial security.

Making small changes to habits over time can help you in achieving a secure financial future. 

For example, instead of trying to cut ordering take-out entirely out of your budget, try picking Friday night for take-out. It gives you a break from cooking and something to look forward to, but it also helps you stick to your budget for the rest of the week. Maybe you have leftovers on Wednesday instead. It’s a sacrifice, but a small one.

Do it for your future.

“Seth Godin says, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” ― Dave Ramsey, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches

A friend once told me that when he has to do a chore or run an errand that he doesn’t feel like completing, he pictures his future self and imagines that he is doing a favor for that guy.  

This concept has become the way I think about paying down my debt and saving for the future. 

I am doing it for the future me. That girl deserves a rest! Sure, I could use a vacation now, but I prefer to get my ducks in a row so that in 10-15 years, every day can feel like a vacation.

It all comes down to mindset.

“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge. What to do isn’t the problem; doing it is. Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it. If I can control the guy in the mirror, I can be skinny and rich.” ― Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

The power of Dave Ramsey’s advice is in its simplicity. 

He isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know. He sounds a lot like my dad, and probably your dad too.

He’s reminding us that what’s essential can’t be bought. Time for ourselves and time with our family is priceless. Working more hours to make more money to buy more stuff will never give us more time with the ones we love. More stuff will never fulfill us.

Hopefully, the pandemic’s reality of life and death will force Americans to chase what is truly important and get their financial house in order. 

I know that I will be spending this year working on mine.

“Measure your wealth not by the things you have, but by the things for which you would not take money.” ― Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace Revisited

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Small business owner, teacher, and mom. I write about learning, health, parenting, and animals.

Torrington, CT

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