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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.


  • Back to REAL life. One can’t control the spending habits of their spouse. Bills come up when other bills are paid, to replace them. Children wind up in trouble, expensive trouble. The economy keeps prices ever going higher. Towards the end of ones life makes it impossible to get caught up on bills, credit card debt that is run by sharks. Sometimes bankruptcy is the only answer. Sometimes Dave Ramsey is a shallow hack. Some people are rich because they have wealthy relatives. Most are not rich because they don’t have the right connections. Always life is unfair, even if you’re the one making the big bucks.

  • You don’t have to spend a penny to do Dave’s thing. We are debt free and have a child with autism. By being debt free we have lots of options on helping our family that we would not have if we lived for sending all of our money to bankers.

    Listen to the the show FREE on the radio or listen to the whole show in the archives daily on his website. His book, The Total Money Makeover is great and includes all you need for $20. Again, you don’t have to spend any money. All I have ever done is listen to the show. You can get 1 hour commercial free on iTunes daily as well and his Fox Biz show is free on two weeks delayed. In any case, you don’t have to spend a cent.

    He would talk to you. He would tell you and your wife to do a budget together. Have a plan. Spend every dollar on purpose on paper, before the month begins. He would then walk you up his baby steps which is does for everyone if great consistency.

    1: $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
    2: Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
    3: Three to six months of expenses in savings
    4: Invest 15 percent of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
    5: College funding for children
    6: Pay off home early
    7: Build wealth and give! Invest in mutual funds and real estate

    Fielding J. Hursts last blog post..GAO Report : Widespread Special Needs Abuse in US Schools!

  • Maybe he does deal with some real life situations. 39 and not owing a penny is truly amazing! I have 10 kids, $58,000.00 in credit card debt, an upside-down mortgage and insurance costs thru the roof down here in FL.I earn about $50,000 a yr. Real life. I don’t think Dave would talk to me other then to say some kind of God Bless Crap. Maybe I’m wrong, but I still think he knows his captive audience and milks them for every penny….

  • I am a die hard Libertarian, but can’t stand Dave’s political talk. I fast forward thru some of the socialist stuff.

    He does, however, talk about REAL LIFE SCENARIOS, everyday for the vast majority of the show. A lot of the times when he gets to the root of the story, folks are planning on filing bankruptcy for what ends up being just some credit cards. He says sometimes folks do end up filing, but suggests fighting the good fight first.

    Example, on his show the other day, some lady called in and said a lawyer (bankruptcy) told her she needed to file. Once Dave got to the root of the issue, he told her to sell a car that she could not afford and buy a beater to get by. It turns out that she would have been filing on like $3,000 credit card debt. He told her she would be better off selling the car and throwing the credit card bills in the trash for now. Focus on the 4 walls (food, shelter, utilities) and call up the credit card company and settle when she has the money. This is the type of call he gets A LOT.

    One of his favorite sayings is “asking a bankruptcy lawyer if you should file bankruptcy is like asking a dog if it’s hungry!”

    You can listen to all of his shows online for free in the archives on

    I have drank the kool-aid so to speak. No debt of any kind, including the house. 39 years old. It is truly a spiritual thing to owe no one a single penny.

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

  • Dave suggest bankruptcy only when it is forced an absolutely necessary, not as an “that was easy” button. You’ll find that very consistent among respected financial voices.

    Dave supported libertarian-ish, conservative-ish political viewpoints way before ever being mentioned on fox news. In fact, fox news is still a relatively recent development.

    Suze Orman was given a large some of money, but lost it all immediately. She then worked to gain it back and paid it back. Say what you will about her financial advice now, but she was very hard working and a very intense go-getter to get to where she is. A lot can be learned from her story.

    Ultimately, I ask myself “Is this person truly dedicated to positively changing the lives of others for the better.”

    In Dave’s case I’ve arrived at yes, even though I certainly don’t agree with 100% of what he says and does. He has my support.

    Baker @ ManVsDebts last blog post..May’s Budget Recap, Net Worth Update, & Future Battle Plans

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