Richard Asks “Who Is Better to Get Out Of Debt With, John Cummuta or Dave Ramsey?”

“Dear Steve,

I’m considering both John Cummuta’s and Dave Ramsey’s systems to get out of debt and build wealth.

Which is better?


Dear Richard,

Your question really made me stop and think and more importantly analyze what I was feeling about both.

I’ve never met John but Dave and I crossed paths when I was the money coach on the television show, Starting Over. Oh yes, and I almost got hit by a bus with his poster on the side of it.

I understand where they are both coming from. They are offering good and valuable advice in a packaged program that you can purchase. There is nothing wrong with paying for good advice. Both men have created systems that they believe in and stand behind, that’s good also.

But where I struggle is that what they have both morphed into a enterprises that are focused on sales and selling you products and services. This includes starting your own debt counseling business. From John’s site he has a package that will show you:

  • how to sell the TDIW “back of the room” products to your attendees to double your profits
  • how to “backend” market additional products and services to your attendees after the seminar is over
  • how to effectively market your seminar business to adult continuing education, corporations, churches, small businesses, and public venues
  • how to follow up with personal consultations and coaching for higher profits and increased business
  • Providing personalized consultations and coaching means greater back-end profit potential for you and your TDIW business.
  • This means developing and profiting from life-long customer relationships, not just one-time seminar attendees.

Plus, I can’t help but be a bit freaked out that John looks so much like Karl Rove.

Now, Dave Ramsey has parlayed his small time radio show into a national event and become a “multi-millionaire” to boot. He not only does his television show on FOX and he continues to do his radio show, but he’s developed a very broad line of products, classes and services that he sells as well. Just take a look at his online store for hundreds of products you can buy. Maybe you are more interested in becoming a certified Dave Ramsey counselor for $3,950.

I don’t know where the line is drawn between being a debt advisor and being a marketer of your products but I think both John Cummuta and Dave Ramsey have crossed it. That does not make their advice less valuable but it is certainly more suspect to drifting towards the goal of selling products and services rather than individually helping people, like yourself, to get out of debt.

This argument is a real slippery slope and it is exactly why I have struggled with answering the question. I praise both men for dedicating their life energy to providing education and advice on how to deal with money issues but it just appears to me, IMHO, that they’ve gone too far and are drawn by the desire to sell hope or access to answers. Take for example, Dave Says, “Most bankruptcy cases can be avoided with proper help, such as our certified counselors and the Total Money Makeover.” But you’ve got to buy access to the Total Money Makeover section.

My approach is completely different, maybe that’s the source of my struggle. What I do is answer questions for free and post the answers online so everyone has the benefit of the question and answer. Visitors don’t pay for my help, they ask me a debt question, I answer it and I give it all away for free. Instead, the site is supported by advertisers. Using this model people in financial trouble don’t have to pay for help, they get that for free but I realize that the model that I have adopted will not make me a multi-millionaire like Dave Ramsey or even as rich as John Cummuta, but this is what I choose to do.

So in the end I don’t know if it is the prejudice of my choice or the path that Dave Ramsey and John Cummuta have adopted that leaves me less than thrilled. Obviously that’s my issue.

In the end, follow the path that you feel most attracted to and that you will follow and implement. Ask me your questions for free or pay a fee to Dave or John, just remember that advice not implemented is not going to make a damn bit of difference.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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5 thoughts on “Richard Asks “Who Is Better to Get Out Of Debt With, John Cummuta or Dave Ramsey?””

  1. You can say what you want about Dave R. and John C. and their ‘back-end practices”, BUT perhaps you aren’t considering that it’s a lack of Accountability that puts so many people in a position of being overextended. It’s common sense to snowball your debts to be more effective in getting it out of the way. However, most people are irresponsible and lazy and therefor not able or willing to do what is necessary to be successful until have someone to take them by the hand. ALL OF THE INFORMATION IN THEIR PRODUCTS IS READILY AVAILABLE FOR FREE AT A LOCAL LIBRARY, but people are always looking for an easy way out. This is the reason that these guru’s have put the information together for individuals. You pay for convenience if you are too lazy to search out the information for yourself. You may see this as back-end selling; i see it as providing another sorely needed option to those who can’t seem to do it on their own. Neither Dave nor John make anyone buy their products or take advantage of coaching, but for some this option is essential to their success. Say what you want about these gentlemen, but i have met them both and i applaud their efforts to help further individuals in their quest for financial freedom.

    • I agree Dave K. It’s not like the information is secret. For example. the paid for section of Dave Ramsey’s site doesn’t have the “holy grail” its simply a “tool chest” forums/articles/webapps to help you and keep you motivated along the way. As an advocate of the free-enterprise system and AMERICA if you work hard to make money who am I or anyone else to tell you what is “too far.” Like Dave says, nowhere in the Bible does it say you are supposed to be poor and give all your money away.  If that was the case we wouldn’t have millionaires like Dave Ramsey to give millions of dollars to charities… I know I couldn’t give that much in a lifetime if I gave up everything.  Also a side note, the Endorsed Local Providers program that you speak of if you really broke it down is nothing more than advertising for local businesses. Same type of thing as Angie’s List.. They pay to be endorsed by Dave and get referals.

  2. I think it’s kinda like weight-loss, everyone knows what it takes to lose weight, but they will continue to spend money on somebody’s new approach. They all have this great idea that isn’t new, and if people just did it themselves they wouldn’t need to spend money on it. When it comes to finances, everyone is in a different situation, and both John and Dave have the same approach to solving it,debt snowball. If people could solve it that easily to begin with, why did they get into the mess they’re in? There are always other things involved that make it complicated, and I don’t think those guys can solve most peoples problem. They are more than happy to take the money from those that can least afford it. Personally, I think John is a nice guy, and Dave is a d#%k, but that’s just me. 🙂
    Steve on the other hand is an honest guy trying to help out those who can’t afford to pay, and does a great job.

  3. Steve,

    First off, you’ve done a fantastic job with your site as it provides TONS of great information and resources for people wanting to get out of debt.

    I appreciate your candid and open review of the John Commuta and Dave Ramsey programs. My question is what about other programs like the money merge account system from United First Financial?

    There’s certainly a cost involved, but with the recent changes to the program (no HELOC required, works for ALL debts, not just mortgage, etc.), I’d be curious to hear what you think about it.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I am an agent of U1st and recognize it’s not for everyone. But as someone very well versed in the ‘pay off debt’ arena, I would certainly appreciate and respect your opinion.



    Fiscal Freedom Fighterss last blog post..Pay Off Debt, Cut Expenses, and Have Fun Doing It

    • Chestin,

      From what I see from the site it appears that the service provides the client with an organized approach to reduce debt using a managed debt snowball approach or to pay the highest interest rates off first and then roll the freed up money to reduce the next debt.

      Not every person is good at every thing. And certainly some people would find that if someone was managing their debt reduction, they might be able to achieve it easier than if they were doing it themselves or using many of the free tools and calculators that are available one.

      Before I could really give you specific feedback I’d need to know the exact range of services offered and the fees charged for that service.

      BTW, I love the superhero on your site.



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