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At What Point Do Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman Compromise Themselves For Sales?

This is just another one of those random thoughts that flows through my head every once in a while, so forgive me.

I was thinking back on my old days when I ran a large credit counseling / debt management company and dealt with the balancing act of needing to get new clients versus always doing the right thing. I don’t care what anybody says, if you’ve got an office space, employees, and overhead, the power of the sale is like heroin, you need it to feed your habit, overhead.

At least I can tell you that I never intentionally enrolled someone in a debt management program, or some other solution that I didn’t honestly think, at the time, would be beneficial. Now that doesn’t mean that my employees didn’t. It would be impossible for me to stare inside every single client case when you have 20,000+ clients.

Commonsense would tell me that some employees would probably be more inclined than not to sell someone a credit counseling debt management solution simply because the employee felt like the sale helped to keep them employed. That’s just human nature. “If I do a good job for my boss, they’ll like me more.”

Eventually a time came when I ran into this situation face-to-face and came to the realization, that for me, putting someone into a debt solution that was not right for them was a line that I would never cross to make money. So I did the craziest thing you could imagine, I laid everyone off and closed the company.

So this conversation in my head led to me pondering the Dave Ramsey line of products, seminars, books, etc. And Suze Orman has her own line of stuff for sale as well. I wonder at what point for them does the sale of products and services become more important than the message they are trying to share with the public.

Now this is the point at which their “fans” will take issue with me. They will say things like “Dave rocks”, “You don’t know what you’re talking about”, etc. But I disagree.

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In order for Dave or Suze to survive it requires the continuous and ongoing sale of their products and services. They have employees to pay, overhead to meet and profit to make. They are both very lucrative financial enterprises.

So when should a financial guru step away from the addiction to make the sale or is it all reasonable and fair game? Is it okay for Dave Ramsey to sell someone a $3,000 business opportunity that might bury them financially?

While Dave rails against debt collectors for being dumb idiots and less than human, when is it appropriate for him to sell a $3,000 class to someone that isn’t best suited for it? Isn’t that dumb? Or is the person that buys it an idiot if they dreamed of success but instead ran into failure?

What about the employee of Suze or Dave that is focused on the per sale profit, conversion rate or up-sell in order to please their boss? At what point does the organization of a financial adviser become so big and the need to feed their company becomes so great that the adviser is more focused on making sales rather than doing the right thing? And what if they do, does that compromise their value and integrity as an adviser?


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About the author

Steve Rhode

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.


  • I don’t like Dave Ramsey, period. It might be a personality thing, but he doesn’t seem like he can understand real life scenarios. His answer is always NO credit whatsoever. I haven’t listened to him enough to know for sure, except I did hear his one show during the “Tea Party’s” and how he endorsed them, but he seems like a bit of a shill for the Fox network. Does he ever suggest a person just file bankruptcy and start over, or does he always want you to just buy his plan? I’ve read a couple of Suze Orman’s books and from what I recall, she had a big help from someone just GIVING her a lot of money to help her with her debt. Then from the experience she went into the line of work she is in now. I don’t think most people are that fortunate. She also says she can judge a persons debt by what their car looks like! What a twit! These two people have radio/tv shows and think they know everything.
    Steve, you’re much more respectable in my book, and you genuinely seem to care. Keep up the good work 🙂

  • The only debt product ad Dave is in is for Churchill Mortgage. He is OK with a mortgage as long as it is no more than a 15 year fixed and the payment is not more than 1/4 of your take home pay. Dave doesn’t own the radio stations or Fox Business and has no control over a lot of the ads that play during his show.

    What does Dave sell for $3,000?

    I do see what you are saying, but Dave runs his business on cash. IE – He doesn’t have loan payments in that overhead.

    Fielding J. Hursts last blog post..A Review of the Dave Ramsey: Town Hall for Hope event.

  • Hmm, very good question. I was recently impressed when I heard (don’t remember which blog it was on, but on a PF blog) that Suze Orman was talking to a woman on her show. The woman was having trouble making her debt payments and had ordered Suze’s book. Suze told her to cancel the order and go to a library instead.

    But one doesn’t often hear such stories or such advice put out there. One reason I don’t review products very often is that I don’t want to encourage people to buy if they can’t afford them. Perhaps I should have more faith in my readers to know what they can or can’t afford. Even with book reviews, I suggest checking them out at the library (being a librarian myself).

    The big issue for me is hosting and clients (from my BlogCrafted business). I worry about steering them wrong for the sake of affiliates. At the same time, I have affiliate links for a number of hosts, so I don’t have a financial motivation just to have them use one host.

    Mrs. Micahs last blog post..Keeping More Than Basic Records

  • They compromise themselves as soon as they advertise for a product that violates a key point they’ve made along the way. For example, if someone has always said CCs are okay if they’re used sensibly and then they appear in a CC ad, that’s fine. But if a person has sworn against all debt (a la Dave Ramsey) then appears in an ad for a debt product, they’ve lost all trustworthiness.

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