When I started my financial journey, I didn’t know who Dave Ramsey was. I knew nothing about the baby steps and basically winged it most of the time. And once I got rid of all my debt and really started to get my shit together financially… Boom! Dave Ramsey starts to show up on my Instagram feed, YouTube homepage and a few of the bloggers I read are talking about his baby steps.
Now, I am not a financial expert and I don’t claim to know everything about finances, but I like to have an open dialogue about money and building wealth. And for me, personal finances are exactly that, personal. So once your debt is paid off, you have established an emergency fund and are chugging along on your journey; what you choose to do with your money is your business. No judgement here.
So anyway, on to the point of this post/rant. A few weeks ago, I was listening to an old episode of Dave’s show and a caller asked about using credit cards to pay for everything. The caller views his credit cards as an investment because he never pays interest on them (which means no rolling balance) and he gets cash back. So he doesn’t understand why Dave says they are bad. My ears perked up because I don’t carry cash; swipe my credit card for EVERYTHING and I enjoy getting my reward points. So I wanted to hear Dave’s reasoning. (After listening to this video, I notice he had a few videos on why you shouldn’t use credit cards)
Dave’s response was he has met with thousands of Millionaires and none of them had said they used credit cards to build their wealth. He then goes on to say that he has met tens of thousands of people who have had their lives ravaged by credit cards. So from what he sees from the people he has talked to, there are no positives to using credit cards, there is only the downside. He also told Bob that the credit card companies are snakes and way smarter than us; so don’t waste your time trying to outsmart them.
First of all, no one said they were using credit cards to have an extra million saved when they retire. And for someone who has multiple videos about why you shouldn’t use credit cards, I find his argument against them, terrible. I feel as though he is painting everyone with the same financial brush. Also, I have never heard anyone say that they are swiping credit cards as a strategy to become a millionaire or in an effort to amass this giant nest egg. Most people who are using credit cards responsibly are using them for travel hacking, cash back or other rewards.
Secondly, he is the same person that says that personal finance is 80% behaviour and 20% head knowledge. So it is not the credit card that is the problem, it is the person’s behaviour when using them that is the issue. The people who are irresponsible when it comes to their finances do not have good financial habits and need to work on creating better ones. They should also try to stick to a cash-only budget. But if someone has their finances in order like Bob and decides to swipe their credit card responsibly – that is their business. At the end of the day, it is not about the tool but how you actually use it. Can you say that you are using it correctly?
I’m 99% sure we, (Bob from the call and myself) are one of the many people who can answer yes. I track what I spend and only buy what I need to make sure I stay within my budget. I have two credit cards, one for household bills and groceries and the other for my personal spending. I give myself a limit and pay it in full every month. When I have enough points, I redeem them for an airline ticket or the Salon I like to go to or something else.
When I was planning our honeymoon to St. Martin, I paid for the airfare with.. you guessed it, Rewards Points! I only had to pay the taxes and fees because that is not covered. When we went to Philly this past July, I got a $200 gift card to Red Lobster – all because of reward points. I am not trying to outsmart anyone. I just like the fact that after a year of putting the bills I have to pay anyway on my credit card, I get to book an appointment or get a gift card I don’t have to pay for. It is a perk. And I feel like it would be silly of me to leave “free” money on the table. If there was a 50 dollar bill on the sidewalk and you saw it; would you leave it there for someone else to pick up? Or would you put it in your pocket?
Don’t get me wrong, Dave has helped thousands of people get their finances back on track, but his reasoning is absolute garbage! He really hasn’t convinced me that credit cards are bad. And I might not have convinced you of my case either. But listening to call after call, where he doesn’t answer the question or starts talking about his uncle that smoked, makes me believe he doesn’t believe in the answer his is giving. It feels like he is only saying it because that is what people expect him to say.
There will be people out there that will dislike this post, because they believe in Dave’s plan and follow it to the letter or because I might not have gotten my point across or for whatever other reason. However, this post is not meant to bash Dave and all that he has done; but simply to start the conversation. To get people to see there is no one size fits all financial plan, what works for you may not work for me and it’s your financial habits and attitude that will make the difference (not whether you use cash or card).