Review of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University


Dave Ramsey claims to teach people how to manage finances, get out of debt, save money, and make good investments. He is the author of a number of books on personal finances and has a syndicated prime-time radio show in which callers describe their financial situations and get free advice. The first website linked above is the home page of what is surely becoming an empire. I’ve tried just one little fiefdom in the Dave Ramsey financial advice empire: Financial Peace University (FPU).

It’s a 13-week course, complete with textbooks, homework, and class sessions. The class meets one night a week for two hours and teaches the basics of money management. FPU’s main claim is regarding the past success of its 300,000+ students:

On average these families have paid off over $5,300 in debt and saved $2,700 during this 91-day program!

I was skeptical. But my money management skills are those of a 12-yr-old (ooh, something shiny! Me buy now!) and I have the debt and saving rate to prove it. In short, I had little to lose. So if I could just meet the advertised averages of savings and debt reduction, that would help a lot. And I just might learn something. So I paid my $90 and enrolled in what is certainly the cheesiest-sounding university I have ever attended. The first class was last night (check back later for pictures of the materials and my first impressions). I’ll keep you posted.

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  1. Is it just as effective to take the on-line course as it is to take a live classroom course? We want to get started right away and there is
    Nothing scheduled in our area.

  2. TJones,

    Yes. Dave Ramsey’s program is helping me, and has helped others. You can check out some stories on YouTube. These people are not millionaires, but they got out of debt and are learning self-control and financial responsibility.

    I will say, though, it is NOT easy. Interestingly enough, the hardest part is NOT being broke and putting all of your money into the debt you owe (which, let’s face it, if we had done that in the first place, we wouldn’t be in this position).

    The HARDEST part is facing the debt. It’s making the list. It’s coming home from a crappy day, to a house of fussing kids, or a moody spouse, when you’re just way down, and looking at that list on your fridge and thinking, “I’m a total failure.” (Isn’t it interesting that we feel like failures as individuals because we can’t pay our debts, when the United States Government can’t pay its debts?)

    It is not a quick fix. It is not easy. It is not pleasant. But, it does work.

  3. Has anyone used the program and has had ANY success? I’m more interested in whether the program works or not. i need real help!

  4. Here’s a tid-bit from the DICTIONARY:
    the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.
    Why call him a hypocrite?! So one man falls, gets back up, and LEARNS from his mistakes?! Oh wait, then he SHARES what he learned so that others may not fall the same way he did!
    He is ONE person trying to help MILLIONS of DIFFERENT situations. Nothing is perfect in this world. There is always room for improvement. At the very least, we can try. If it doesn’t work, what harm has come?

  5. Tithing was a jewish requirement in the old testament. The new testament does not mention tithing one time. People should give what they want to give. Chruches seem to want to revert back to the legalism of the old testament when it is convinent for them to do so. I personally think you should give to charities and/or churches. If you attend church you should give them something but you are not required to give 10%. Give what your heart tells you to give not what you are told to give by a pastor or Dave Ramsey. I personally think Ramsey’s advice is sound advice but not worth the $100 or the time. I am good with finances so maybe for others this class would be well worth it.

  6. I think the advise is simple and commonsense as far as I am concerned. I think Ramsey is making a fortune from these classes. I think we all know what we need to do and just because you take his class does not mean you will be debt free. Stop spending money you do not have and pay off your credit cards is basically his advise. I disagree with him that a mortgage on a house you can afford is bad and should be paid off quickly. Mortgages are fixed rates so inflation brings your mortgage payment down yearly. After owning a house for 10 years you mortgage payment will seem like nothing. Money will never be worth more than it is today so use future money to pay for your house. I do not beleive in credit card debt but I use credit cards for 24 months same as cash. He implies everyone who uses same as cash deals default and end up paying all the back interest. I have never done that. I have a 2.9% auto loan and think his advise of paying for cars in cash and drive a $5,000 car is ridiculous unless you are 21 years old. His advise on tithing is also ridiculous since the new testament never mentions tithing. I give to charities, my church,and help out people in need. I do not need to be shamed into giving my chruch 10%.

  7. The 10% to the church should not be a put off for anyone. I do not attend church. Have in the past. Have no desire to return. Will not fund the oversaturated religion market. BUT….I am discouraged at your lack of ability to see the BIG PICTURE. Despite your personal beliefs, the Bible does offer us an insight into the bigger picture. It’s very simple: Love, give, help, be patient, be compassionate, be kind in word and deed. Can you imagine how the world we live in now would be different if everyone adhered to those ideas? The 10% is a paltry amount of anything. The point isn’t where you give it. The point is to GIVE. And, not just to give, but to give with an open, glad heart. It’s a symbol, this measly 10%. Give 10% of your dollars, 10% of your canned goods, 10% of your time, but get into the SPIRIT OF GIVING. When you do, it changes you from the inside out, and God (or the Universe, or whatever makes you comfortable) responds in kind, and GIVES sevenfold.

    The New Testament of the Bible truly is the BEST guide on how to live your BEST life RIGHT NOW. People like David Ramsey, and Joel Osteen, and countless others, take the lessons of the Bible and break them down for people like you and like me who want the parable spoken in today’s language, and they teach us how to apply these lessons to our lives TODAY. The better you are, the better YOU can make this world. A healthy you equals a healthy world!

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater because you have some issue with the church. Try not to get caught up in the hell and heaven, reward and punishment. Try not to get discouraged at man’s perversion of the Bible. The Bible says “Whatever is good, whatever is right, whatever is honorable, whatever has virtue, whatever is worth of praise, meditate on these things.”

    If you accomplished that one directive from the Bible for ONE hour a day, can you imagine how significantly your life would change?

    I do not know Phil, and have not read his story. But, I can tell you, I would trust a man who has filed bankruptcy and bounced back on top before I would trust a man who has never been in debt to advise me on how to get out of it.

  8. L Matthews says:

    Dave is not a hypocrite, he tells you in his radio show and books,that he did in fact file bankruptcy, but also went back and paid all his debts after the bankruptcy. The class is for those of us who want control of our money. His math is not bad and his teachings come from experience. Love the class, love the radio show, and love the books. We will be debt free in February. The house will be paid off in 7 years instead of 20. What other program gives you such peace of mind if you just follow the simple steps? Some of you will just have to hate those of us who did it! But those of us who did it really don’t care what you think, as Dave says,if your broke friends aren’t making fun of you, then you are not on track. “Don’t take financial advice from broke people.”

  9. The problem with FPU at some churches is that pastors offering the class tend to use the class as a way to beg for church donations. Often only a few churches in an area offer FPU so some FPU leaders want monetary donations and could not care less about you getting out of debt. Big time marketing tool. Greed prevails. Hard sell pitch at The Bridge Church in Berkeley California the pastor Phil Popineau is constantly begging attendees for money. Many attendees are not members of his church so he wants participants to tithe to two churches . Be wary of unscrupulous folks offering FPU for personal gain.

  10. Interesting comments from the people who say that this is a Christian based program. That is made clear from the beginning. If you don’t like it don’t sign up. There are always going to be the “haters”. Dave Ramsey is the first person that made sense to me and maybe that is elementary or basic to some but many of us were not taught the basic skills for financial peace and carry it on to our children. I am enjoying the class and learning many skills that I hope to transfer to future generations.

  11. Why do people hate on others so much. If Financial Peace works for you then great. I know it worked for me. Dave has spoken on his bad choices and he does not want people to make the same mistakes. If you haven’t been through anything then how can you reach some people who have been through. I truly believe in the program and it works. DAVE KEEP SPREADING THE WORD FOR THOSE WHO WILL LISTEN. Some people have a defeated mentality so nothing will work for them till they choose to look at the resources that are available.

  12. Kiwicutiety says:

    I am not a Christian, have read The Total Money Make Over and listened to many of Dave’s radio shows. I think he is brilliant. Well on my way to getting out of debt, probably would never have done it without finding his book. No one thing will ever work for all people, if you don’t like him stop listening.

  13. He filed bankruptcy BEFORE he learned the strategies he teaches. That is exactly WHY he doesn’t like credit now.

  14. Phil, Dave Ramsey in fact did go back and paid back the creditors that were included in his bankruptcy from years past. He has spoken about this in depth before on his radio program and has specifically stated that he considers that to be a personal decision on each persons part if they want to do it or not.

  15. I think the problem is that if he declared bankruptcy and is now a wealthy then did he go back and pay his creditors, interest et. al? Of course he didn’t. Just a general rule don’t take financial advice from someone who files bankruptcy and don’t trust a skinny chef. Same logic even if the food smells great. He didn’t eat his own cookin!

    The advice is simple…do without when you are mentally able to handle it and throw as much money at your debt as you can, stick a little on the side for emergencies and stop spending. There that about sums it up.

  16. I thought the whole point of the FPU was to help those who think they need it. If you need to pay to be vested in the process, so be it. Not really worried about Dave, just about using the “System” to make my life easier

  17. I have been following Dave Ramsey’s plan for about 2 years and I will be 100% debt free in August of 2012. House and everything! The plan works–but only if you are focused and have self-control. I will have paid off a total of $100K in the four years. I talk about my path to debt freedom in my blog.

    Dollars Not Debt

  18. Jay Sherman says:

    DAVE IS THE DA BOMB! He helps people, but also runs a business. You do not get angry at the cable guy that fixes your cable box, right? I used his program (got his book free from the library-never paid Dave a dime) and paid off $26,000 in 15 months. It was the best thing I ever did financially. Now I have a robust IRA, ESA accounts for both my kids and a very nice savings account.


  19. I did this class a few years ago and even though I considered myself financially literate I learned a great deal and reduced my expenses enough to pay for the course in less than a month. In addition, my wife and I can now talk about money (without fighting 99% of the time) and have long range goals.

  20. Brian Michaels says:

    I’m convinced that some people try new things strictly so that they can complain about it later, to people they know and dont know.
    It somehow makes them feel better about themselves.
    Dave Ramsey is the real – deal, and he deserves all the success he has earned!
    I love the class I am taking.

  21. Sweet.Gril says:

    We need people like Dave to help us kick in to high gear. Some people do need someone outside of the family and friends to let you know you are not the only one and like others you can get out of debt. as for the 10% for church this is what the bible tells us to do. If you don’t believe in this that that’s up to you to do or not do. God gives you all and you only have to give about 10% of that. You will get so much more in return. Just know the church that you give to is doing good things for your community.

  22. Dave Ramsey Myths-
    1. For those who like to call Dave a hypocrite, listen to his show to know his story before you use ignorant statements, your wrong and ignorant which means lack of knowledge. You do not know his full story so you can not make ignorant statements because he explains what he did, why he did it, why he does not want you to do it, and what he did to correct what he did. He was young, dumb and in debt and almost lost his marriage!
    His foundation on what not to do- filing bankruptcy- was his learning lesson telling you not to do it, because it is one of the most negative life changing events after death and divorce. He would not be the Dave Ramsey unless he did file bankruptcy to tell you not to do it with first hand experience!

    For those that like to spout facts that Dave abused the system of bankruptcy, and now does not want you to do it…When he started to get on his feet HE PAID BACK EVERY DIME he claimed on bankruptcy, there is no clean slate as some state morally.
    So no he is not a hypocrite, he is telling you from experience you don’t want to do it, and if you did it is your responsibility to still go back and clean up your mess!

    2. Giving 10% to charity or church is part of being a good human being- good things happen to good people. When you donate to charity you get nothing in return especially when you do it without press release unlike politicians!

    3. This is unlike the Government taking 30% out of your check and giving it to people who vote for them, or payback with fundraisers and contracts. This is stealing and immoral and if more liberal people like Joe Biden (gives average $400 per year from $300,000+ income), Al Gore (when records were public $300 per year on $200,000+ income) and others gave money to our own country and to non-voters or where there is no benefit from what they do in return, there would be no hunger or poverty! There was a study that conservatives give around $2200 a year and liberals $600 a year. Don’t steal it, give it!

  23. To JL,

    I do not know about ELPs but from what I have read, facilitators are not paid. Exact opposite, it cost more to be a facilitator than take the class. The material for the facilitator cost $299, while the material for those taking the course is $93.

    I would imagine that most churches pick-up the cost for the facilitators material. And, some churches might even pay a person to act as the facilitator. But, I have found no indication that Mr. Ramsey’s organization pays facilitators.

    I share all of this because my pastor and I are considering bringing Finacial Peace University to our church. I agree so strongly with Mr. Ramsey’s baby steps; especially step 7; that I am planning on paying the cost of the facilitator material out of my own pocket.

    For those who are unaware, the last baby step is that there are only three good things to do with money; have fun, invest, and give it away. Mr. Ramsey makes it very clear that all three of these things must happen to truely get financial peace. Now, could you imagine just how much good a church could do if every member of the church was on step 7? How many people we could feed? How many kids we could get clothes for? How many needs we could meet? It is for this reason that I am excited to try and help other members of my church find the peace my wife and I have.


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