One of the most fascinating aspects of personal finance is the fact that it is comprised of individual stories, goals, wisdom, and opinions. I have read certain bloggers state unequivocally that if you have not experienced debt, your authenticity as a personal finance blogger is questionable at best. I’ve also seen readers lambaste bloggers in comment sections for not acknowledging enough of the privilege that they were born into.
Debates and controversy abound.
And when it comes to lightning rods as financial figureheads, I’m not sure anyone fits the bill better than Dave Ramsey.
So what I want to know is does it really matter where Dave Ramsey lives?
The Case Against Caring
Dave Ramsey lives in a really big house. On a hill. In an idyllic place. Perhaps where the eyes of all the people are upon him.* They certainly were when the interwebs blew up with news of his home purchase several years back. To this day, the hot-button issue lives on as one quick Google search can prove.
So, is it hypocritical for a personal finance guru to live in a really big house? No.
Even if it is worth over a reported $4 million? No.
Even if it supposedly contains 18** shower heads? No.
As mind blowing as the home seems from my perspective (Who cleans it? What do you put in it? Why on God’s green earth would anyone need that many showers?), the fact that there was no mortgage on record for the purchase seems to indicate that he is living well within his means. If that’s what he preaches, then how can anyone be upset?
Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen a resurgence of Dave Ramsey quotes on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Twitter also keeps suggesting that I follow him.*** In addition to underscoring the fact that I’ve got to find better things to do with my time, this recent Ramseymania compelled me to try to flesh out my thoughts a bit more.
You see, I’m a big believer in the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to personal finance. That’s what makes it personal. But I also believe that if you are going to make your millions proselytizing about money, then you had best put your money where your mouth is. And when you’re Dave Ramsey, by mouth, I mean legions of followers pinning and tweeting this: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” ~Dave Ramsey
Here is where I get stuck. On one hand, I get it. He has the money to afford the house. He probably has enough money to buy the whole town. And if he can afford it, who am I to tell him how to spend his money? Truly, even if he can’t afford it, who am I to tell him how to spend his money?
On the flip side, if he is going make public declarations that paint in broad strokes about society buying unnecessary things, how does he justify buying something so extravagantly unnecessary? Maybe he didn’t buy it with the intention of impressing anyone. He certainly has the money for it. But you’d be hard pressed to convince me that he needed this house.
While it might not matter where he lives, it matters what he says. And when your words and actions fall this far out of alignment? Well, it sure is something.
*If you don’t appreciate what I did just there, ask Dave. He can explain it.
**In all fairness, I’ve not seen the house firsthand. As a result, it may contain more or less shower heads than reported by various news sources.
***Dave, I’ll follow you, if you follow me. #followforfollow
So Tell Me…Does it really matter where Dave Ramsey lives?