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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.

READ  Is Suze Orman's Prepaid Debit Card Right For You?

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.


  • Steve…it seems like you tend to try and down talk people “winning” like Dave Ramsey all the time, in order to try to make your points and at the same time, TRY to establish yourself as credible. That is NOT the way to win in life. Just give your opinions without bringing people like Dave Ramsey into it all the time. It’s pretty elementary to realize people like Dave and Suze have to make $ in order to touch more people. Just because you call yourself the GetOutOfDebtGuy and choose to do it for free, doesn’t mean those who aren’t doing it as a “charity” and are doing it as a legitimate business are “compromising” themselves for “sales”. There are WAY too many testimonies on both shows where they are making a MAJOR impact in the lives of people. Grow up. Sometimes your posts sound like a jealous child.

  • I’m always amazed at the level of animosity that Dave Ramsey attracts.

    Good for Mr. Hurst for calling “BS” on that $3,000 Dave Ramsey package – that’s simply not true. Ramsey doesn’t charge a thing to listen to his daily program, or to browse his website, where all this stuff is. Yes, he’s got some books out there, but they’re available for free from most libraries (you’ll have to wait awhile, though — they’re popular.)

    He does have a 14 week course you can buy (Financial Peace University) but most churches offer that for around $100. Even if it weren’t extremely helpful (and effective), it is very entertaining. Where else could you get 14 nights out with your spouse for that price?

    Besides which, when did it become unethical to make money providing a service? I am a bankruptcy attorney, and I certainly do charge a fee (a rather high one at that) for my services.

    I wouldn’t go as far as Ramsey and always recommend against bankruptcy (sometimes it is about the only way out), but I do try to let my clients see the alternative way out of their problems.

    Again, I think it’s interesting to see how people react to Ramsey. It reminds me of the polarizing reactions to people like Sarah Palin or Al Franken.
    .-= Ben Callicoat´s last blog ..The Secret History of the Credit Card =-.

    • Ben,

      Thank you so much for your comments. Please come back often and add your opinion. Your experience and point of view are always welcome.

      Just for clarification the $3,000 business opportunity package I mentioned that Dave sells is on his site, here.

      Join us for Dave Ramsey’s all-inclusive immersion into the world of personal finance and counseling. Counselor Training is designed to teach you the one-on-one counseling process and to help you navigate budgeting, debt reduction, and other complex financial issues, as you seek to make a difference in your community. It’s boot-camp tough! Dave’s team will throw a ton of information at you, but you’ll also have a lot of fun.

      Counselor Training is ideal for professionals in need of continuing education units, ministry-minded individuals seeking to help others in their church or nonprofit organization, Financial Peace University coordinators hoping to better assist their classes, military personnel wanting to assist soldiers and their families—and anyone else who wants to learn more about financial counseling.

      Cost: $2,950 (spouse attends for $1,500)


  • “80% of US millionaires are first generation rich” that doesn’t take away from what I said at all. What if cousin Bob had a well run business and helped you get into Harvard? What if you were born in a good neighborhood as opposed to the ghetto? True, there are self-made millionaires, but you can count them on one hand. Name me a millionaire and I’ll name a half dozen reasons they got there,(things they didn’t create) just like the homeless guy on the street, there is always a reason. Sometimes s#$t happens, more often then not. All this goody-goody work hard and you’ll reap the rewards is CRAP! If an employer knows you’re willing to work harder then the rest, he’ll work you harder then the rest! He won’t pay you any better, that would cut into his profits.
    It’s like saying anyone can be a great musician (they can), but some are born with the ability, great influences to play better (what if dad were Eddie Van Halen?)and the best instrument (costly). If you work hard at it, maybe in 10 yrs you’ll be good. Now if Tex guitar jones says he can teach you to play great in 10 easy lessons if you buy his course, do you think that will make you great?
    Yeah, Dave, Suze, and Johm Commuta all have good advise. Here it is: Budget your money, stop using credit cards, snowball your debt down, invest.
    There I just saved you thousands of dollars.
    Want to get rich on the stock market?
    Buy low, sell high. There ya go, I just made you rich!
    Dave, Suze, John and the rest are just taking advantage of the down and out, just like a snake oil salesman.
    Oh, and by the way my marriage is fine, I’ve been happily married for 25 yrs., have 10 kids, and when my wife needs to buy something, it happens. You don’t get a divorse over stupid things like that.
    I’m not on welfare and if it’s stealing in your book for me to use credit to survive, then you’ll consider me a thief….so what.

  • “One can’t control the spending habits of their spouse” = If this is the case, you don’t have finance problems, you have marriage problems. Doing a budget with your spouse does WONDERS for all areas of your marriage, because you have to communicate and discuss your joint priorities and goals. I would even go so far as say, it’ll even improve your sex life. There’s just something about being on the same page.

    Unexpected expensive trouble is what the emergency fund is for. If my air conditioner bites the dust today, I will write a check and get a new one. I won’t have to put it on a credit card or owe some banker.

    “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.” = 80% of US millionaires are first generation rich. I would guess that most have a little more optimistic attitude than you. Being content with what they have is the number one key to being wealthy.

    If you don’t think any of the stuff Dave talks about is possible for you, well then it probably isn’t.

    Also, on old people. If you are old people who can’t pay your bills. Stop borrowing more money or using credit cards. At this point, since there is noway you will be able to pay back, YOU ARE NOW STEALING!

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

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