Dave Ramsey Financial Coach: Is It Worth It?

Rachel Porter


Today, I’ll be joined by Man Vs. Debt reader, Rachel Porter.  After several e-mail communications, Rachel revealed that she is a Dave Ramsey Certified Counselor.  I believe it is now referred to as the ELP program, and one of those roles is the financial coach.  I was immediately intrigued, as I had even considered this route for a brief moment.  Ramsey’s training program has received it’s share of both criticism and praise, so I was interested to hear some specifics from someone who had decided to attend, completed the program, and has since built a successful practice around the concepts.

Let me be very clear.  This is not a paid post, nor is it an endorsement in any way.  I approached Rachel (not the other way around), because I was overwhelmed with curiosity about her experience with the program..

With all that junk out of the way, let’s get on with it…

Before we get started, can you tell me a little about your financial upbringing and story?

If you aren’t familiar, Dave Ramsey is a personal finance guru. Dave Ramsey covers home warranties to bankruptcy. He has a financial coaching program that you may see ads on Facebook.

My financial upbringing was pretty simple. I remember being told I needed to save and not use credit cards. Other than that, finances weren’t talked about much in my house. I stayed away from credit cards in college (luckily) mainly because I had this fear if my dad found out I had one, I thought he would be kill me. I had no clue how to really save for things and look to the future. In school I never thought about buying a home someday, or a car, or starting a family. It didn’t occur me to be thinking so “long-term.”

When were you first exposed to Dave Ramsey?

I was introduced to Dave Ramsey the summer of 2004, while living and working in Nashville on a summer internship. I found his radio show, and read Financial Peace that summer. It really rocked my world and way of thinking about money.

Fast-forward a couple of years. I’m back in Kansas City and it’s Winter 2005.  I’m sitting with my fiancé, Landon, in church, and they announced hosting Dave’s Financial Peace University (FPU.) I got so excited and we immediately enrolled. This 13-week course set an amazing foundation in place for handling finances in our marriage. During our 13 weeks, we learned so much about ourselves, our money and how to handle it.

After the class I learned I loved coming alongside others and encouraging and challenging them in their journey to finance peace. I went through training in 2007, so be one of Dave’s Certified Counselors. Now, I totally own and operate my own coaching business, with Dave’s endorsement. I’m still passionate about coming alongside others (now I’m even more equipped!) who are ready to thrive with their finances and career. The career topic is for a separate occasion though.  Learning how to handle money and live on a plan has been so pivotal in Landon and I’s marriage, that I want to share what we’ve learned with the world!

Ramsey has received some criticism over the price tag on the training program (currently $2,950).  What made you decide to invest your money in this and in what ways have you received the most value?

It was a BIG decision to go to training at Dave’s office. Let’s just say, I would have certainly done it before 2007, if the price tag would’ve been lower. BUT, I will also say I knew that once I paid for it upfront that the cost would pay for itself in time with clients that were referred to me through Dave’s website. I finally decided to invest in the training after budgeting for it and talking through all available options with my husband. I thought through how Dave had been pivotal in our personal situation, and I knew the benefits of the training, could be great.

Most value? It’s a toss up between two things. The first, would be to have Dave’s endorsement. When someone stumbles upon my website, chances are they might not know me personally yet, but a lot of people know Dave, and that carries a lot of credibility. The second, it really jump started my business and equipped me with some tangible take-aways to begin implementing. Dave’s lead financial counselor, taught the class. So, it was awesome to sit under that wisdom for 4 days.

Can you tell us some specific details about the training?  How were the days set-up, how long was it, who else did you meet, what were your favorite parts?

We had 4 long days of training, from about 8 a.m. – 7/8 p.m. daily. I met people from all over the U.S., all wanting to coach in different ways, i.e. part-time, full-time.  My favorite parts were the interaction with the other attendees and the case studies we did the last couple of days.  We had spent time learning principles, and it was great to be able to play those out in case study scenarios.

After taking the course, how did you launch your business and how has that grown to date?

After the training, I just got to work. I had a list about a mile long of how to get started! A mentor of mine, who is also a coach, has said, “If you can’t make it work on paper, it won’t happen!” So, the first thing I did when I went home was to get my plans, ideas, and dreams on paper.

My coaching business has grown in great ways since I started. In 2008, I coached part-time and beginning January 2009, I went full-time as a coach. Since the start, I’ve fine-tuned my coaching options and even how I coach. I offer phone coaching to those outside the Kansas City area. I’ve added on a 6-week career workshop, based on Dan Miller’s best-seller, 48 Days to the Work you Love. I host monthly seminars at my office and at other small businesses. I just launched my coaching BLOG in March and I make additions my ever growing website, weekly.

In what ways can you help someone whom is overwhelmed?

I can help them by equipping them with a plan of action. Many people that feel overwhelmed feel so because they aren’t taking control of their money. They are wondering where it went, instead of telling it where to go. First, you need to develop your goal.  Second, you need to identify what it will take to reach that goal.  The third step is to put together a detailed plan of reaching your destination, step-by-step. And I truly believe, that when you go after your goals with a coach, you are able to reach your destination much faster, than when you go at it alone. A coach adds clarity and confidence to your actions to meet your goals.

If you could only give one tip that would help the majority of clients you work with…  What would that be?

Stay motivated and have a clear vision for your future! Most people spend their lives looking in the rear view mirror, instead of looking ahead. Set goals, move forward, stay motivated and you’ll be well on your way to financial peace and abundance.

What’s your favorite part about helping counsel others through their debt issues?

My favorite part of coaching (whether they are in debt, or are debt-free and still don’t have a detailed plan of action) is bringing hope and ultimately financial peace to their situation.  Our culture tells us…the little man will never get ahead, you’ll always have a car payment, student loan or…you fill in the blank!  Often when people come to my office, they have a glimmer of hope in their eyes, but have often lost the illustrious sparkle and vision to …(again you fill in the blank) be debt free, save for emergencies, a home, fund retirement, kids college, etc.  I am honored to come alongside them and encourage them that they can do this!  You can meet and even exceed your goals, if you have a plan!

Did you find Dave’s religious spin on finance to be a turn-on or turn-off?  Do you approach your clients in the same way?

I might be so bold as to say I don’t really think Dave has a ‘religious spin’ on what he says. I think he takes time as a part of what he does to share things that are meaningful to him; whether it’s how he got on track with his finances, career, or God. I’ve never found what Dave has said about his faith to be overbearing. I actually find it inspiring and refreshing to hear him communicate about his faith in a way that seems really genuine and thought out.

With my clients, I sometimes share how God has made an impact on what I do, if it’s an appropriate setting. Sometimes I will also share Scripture as a part of what we’re discussing, but never do this in haste or without thought. I believe ones faith story can be an integral part of who you are, and where you’ve come from, and can benefit others if shared appropriately.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview!  Is there any other information you’d like to add about being a financial coach?

Remember, your life should be focused on where you want to go, not just about where you’ve been. So whether you engage with a coach, or go at it on your own…go out there and begin to live by design!

What are your thoughts on the Dave Ramsey Certified Counselor and financial coaching program?  If you enjoy personal finance, would you ever consider it for yourself?  Why or why not? I’m interested to hear your opinions.

46 thoughts on “Dave Ramsey Financial Coach: Is It Worth It?”

  1. Interesting – I didn’t realize that Ramsey had a religious spin on finance. I’m not a huge fan, but I’ll occassionally listen to his radio show if I’m running to the grocery store. Perhaps this is more obvious if you read his books?

    Kosmo @ The Casual Observer’s last blog post..Dan Brown profile

    1. On second thought, “spin” was probably not the appropriate term as Rachel pointed out. But to answer your question, yes. Dave infuses a lot of Christianity into his message. He has scriptures of the day during his radio show, his FPU is mostly hosted by churches and has often refers to scripture. I don’t feel he’s overbearing, but it’s a turn off to some people.

    2. Kosmo, you’ve never heard him talk about religion on his show? He has a little saying…something like “the only way to financial peace is to walk with the Prince of Peace, and that’s Jesus Christ.” I know non-Christians who appreciate his financial wisdom, but they absolutely recognize the religious spin.

      I can’t find the information on his website anymore, but I thought I had read in the past (when I was personally considering the training) that although anyone can attend the training, he would only allow people to advertise themselves as certified if they were Evangelical Christians OR Catholics. I’m curious if this is still the case, or if he’s loosened the restrictions to allow any Christian to advertised themselves as certified.

      Liz’s last blog post..Dealing with a setback

      1. I just learned about the program within the last month, but I would certainly be curious about this type of restriction since I am a Mormon (yes, we are Christians, but certainly do not fit into either the Evangelical or Catholic classifications). I sent an email in to them to see if this is true.

        It would be sad if it was. Although there are pieces of Dave Ramsey’s advice that drive me mad (like the Debt Snowball that ignored the interest rate charged on outstanding debt), overall I do think his program is beneficial to lots of people. It would be a shame if they limit the ability to spread this message because they don’t like your flavor of religious faith.

        BillyOceansEleven’s last blog post..$200 bonus for a free Capital One checking account (YMMV)

        1. They don’t limit it to people of faith. There are bible quotes in his lessons, but they are more reinforcement stories than principles of his work.

          Think of it this way, if he were up there quoting Confucius about money, or telling a Zig Ziglar motivational story, no one would notice much difference. He does use Bible stories, but not in any manner that’s offensive or makes you feel very uncomfortable.

          I think one of the big reasons for Dave’s success is that he uses so many methods – emotional, spiritual, mathematical – to get his points across. So, no matter what way appeals to you, he can hit you with it.

    3. I keep reading the term “religious spin” – he’s not spinning anything. The majority of the time that verses from the Bible are used are to share a principle, which in many cases, is solid and recognizably true based on the financial philosophy he teaches.

      Maybe I misunderstand the sentiment of those using the term ‘spin,’ which gives me the impression you think he’s about evangelizing or proselytizing people INTO the Christian faith. Would there be this term used if he quoted philosophies of Buddha or Confucius? Probably not; people would be saying he is using “ancient proverbs” or the like.

      Like everything, take it with a grain of salt and, as needed, a spoonful of sugar.

  2. I have actually looked into his program. While in college, I became fascinated with financial counseling and realized that it was what I wanted to do. However, coming out with no experience, I have not been able to find a job in the field that does not require it. The program intrigued me because it would allow me to have a foot in the door and receive referrals.

    Since graduating though, I have not had much steady employment and I cannot afford the tuition to his program. I wish there was a way that I could go, but it just does not seem likely in the next few years. I even considered taking all ads off my blog and asking for donations to attend the program. Sounds a little risky though, don’t you think?

    Adam’s last blog post..Our Cell Phone Company Is Scamming Us

      1. I read that one yesterday and have read about it on other sites before. However, I would be asking for donations for a specific cause: to send me to Ramsey’s counselor program. I think it would definitely be beneficial to my readers in terms of content, but I don’t think it’s practical with only 250 subscribers. At least not without a wave of other blogger support which I think I would never get.

        Adam’s last blog post..Have Jobs Become Disposable?

        1. How about you volunteer to teach an FPU Class? Partner up with a not for profit organization in your locale, get them to spend the money for the class materials, and spend your time servicing those who need it most (including yourself!). Along the way you can plot how you’re going to turn that volunteer service into a genuine paid gig for that organization (or others)…I think you might have just found the way to get your foot in the door and possibly build up to that counselor training class tuition.

  3. Great interview! I’ve thought about becoming a certified counselor in the future (need to clear a couple more baby steps first!). The tag is hefty, but like she said, the endorsement from Dave would probably cause it to pay for itself very soon.

    I’d be interested to hear from Rachel an estimated percentage on how many of her referrals come from Dave vs. her own efforts?


    1. Kita, I’ll e-mail Rachel and see if she will swing by to answer your question. It’s a great one for anyone thinking about taking the course themselves!

  4. Thank you for this interview. The business administrator of our church just took a job with Dave and is moving his family from here in WI to work for him in TN. Something like over 800 people have taken FPU at our church over the past year. Until last fall when my husband and I took the course I wasn’t really familiar with Dave but I am so thankful we went through FPU. Still have a lot of baby steps to go but it has really helped change the way we do a lot of things and view a lot of things. Like when people talk about their credit score – immediately running through my mind is – it’s the I Love Debt score!

  5. Thanks for the LOVE guys. I’d love to answer a couple of questions/thoughts that have come up as of this morning. First, to address Liz’s about advertising and being an Evangelical…when you go through Dave’s training for-profit and have his endorsement, I know it’s not a requirement to “call yourself a Christian or Evangelical” in order to be promoted by him. Second, to answer Kita’s question (which is my mom’s name by the way, I love it!) at this point probably about 50% of my leads come from Dave’s website. BUT, a personal referral is the strongest and best referral often times in small business, so I’m continually working on ways to connect with people and build that network. Keep the questions coming! I’m happy to answer.

    rachel’s last blog post..Coaching Interview with Financial Blogger

    1. Rachel, thanks for the feedback. Sounds like Dave must have changed the policy. It wasn’t a requirement to advertise yourself as being Evangelical or Catholic. It was on the application form with a note that you could take the course regardless of church affiliation, but you HAD to be Evangelical or Catholic to get referrals.

      I’m actually glad to hear he changed it because it personally really put me off at the time I was looking into it. I didn’t like the idea that certain Christians were okay, but other Christians were not.

      I am hoping to bring FPU to my local church (I’ve never seen FPU available at ANY churches in our town), so maybe down the road me or another member will be able to go to the training and bring the benefits back to our community.

      Liz’s last blog post..Dealing with a setback

  6. Call me cynical and I am sure Rachel you are a very nice person (hell, you decided to counsel people through a rough time – so you must be nice!) but out of curiousity what other training do you have?

    From your about page:
    “The hope with my blog is to encourage and equip you to handle every personal financial situation that comes your way.”

    Was the four days tough on you to learn how to handle “EVERY” personal financial situation that comes your way? Must have been really as intensive as the 4 years of accounting Plus the CPA exam that CPAs have to take….or the 4 years of college plus 3 years of law school plus the bar exam Attorneys need to handle…or even the 13 hour exam covering 7 different areas a CFP has to take…or the 8 classes that a ChFC has to take…

    But don’t worry God will help you understand all the topics you need…

    My Journey’s last blog post..How Should I handle “Alternative Income” Opportunities when Friends and Family are Involved?

    1. I have a couple problems with this comment. You bring up a valid point, but manage to add in just enough attitude to make it make it border even being constructive.

      There is a big difference between a debt counselor, a CPA, a CFP, and a ChFC. They each play different roles. I admit that a problem could exist when an unqualified person attempts to deceive people into thinking that they are a heavily licensed professional. However, I do not agree that a single statement quoted from the About page of a blog qualifies as this sort of problem.

      Rachel outlines that it is her “hope” to “encourage & equip” individuals. I think you are reading into that quote too far. Even if the wording should be clarified, you certainly haven’t chosen the right approach or venue.

      Lastly, despite your beliefs, your last comment was rude and inappropriate at best. It reflects poorly on yourself and your blog.

      1. I suspected I would get a similar response, if not worse. I think Rachel provides a great service (one she should be compensated for accordingly), and if I belittled her service, I apoligize.

        That being said, I have sincere doubt she can handle all of one’s financial issues as is touted on her website. This doubt may be wrongfully attributed to New York Cynacism, but helping pay off one’s credit cards is simply not the same as assisting one through all of life’s financial issues.

        Her blog, which is likely not her main source of clients, has been updated a total of 5 times, 2 of which have no value and 3 of which had to do with budgeting and credit card payment. If this was just another blogger (like you or I) I would have not said a word.

        Baker, thank you for not editing my comment besides strongly disagreeing with it.

        My Journey’s last blog post..How Should I handle “Alternative Income” Opportunities when Friends and Family are Involved?

        1. Like I said, I understand your points. I just think you went over the line in the first comment.

          Also, I won’t ever edit a comment. I would just delete it.

  7. My response would be to say ditto to the comment posted on the linked blog, written by:
    Dove, May 13, 2009 @ 10:32 pm.

    Dave is great for debt repayment and turning around a life that’s been ruined by poor financial decisions. Many financial gurus cringe when he starts talking about other more advanced topics. Does this undo all the good he does? In my opinion, not one bit!

    Liz’s last blog post..Dealing with a setback

  8. As a non-Christian, Ramsey is too overtly religious for me. That said, I intend no slight to the show on that basis. There’s certainly a market for whom that’s appropriate.

    My real complaint about Ramsey is with the accuracy of his information whenever he’s asked a question about investing. BadMoneyAdvice gave a few such examples yesterday: http://badmoneyadvice.com/2009/05/ten-things-dave-ramsey-got-wrong.html

    ObliviousInvestor’s last blog post..How does rebalancing affect return?

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  11. I don’t know the specifics of the toolkit Dave’s counseling trainees receive, but I can say that the sense of support and community that the FPU and certified counselors provide by “Coming alongside” is a valuable and worthy alternative to seeking help from other avenues or other types of financial ‘professionals.’ CPAs don’t tell you how to get out of debt & give you steps to do so; many financial professionals are incentivized to sell products and/or give you a quick pre-packaged answer to a complex problem… Worse, there are many companies preying on the desparate and/or uneducated (as DR puts it: debt CON-solidation, akin to CON artist) that claim to be counselling, but what they are really doing is profiting. And I think having more Rachels available to more people is something we should encourage/applaud.

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  13. Why pay this lady money when you can hear his advice on the radio for free and all his baby steps are outlined online.

    Do you really need a counselor to tell you that you have debt?


    HS’s last blog post..FNBO Direct Rate Update

    1. Do you believe in any sort of coaching? What about in sports? Personal trainers? Olympic athletes? What about business coaches?

      C’mon the existence of free information doesn’t immediately discredit the services of a coach or counselor of any sort. Most of us have at least a couple areas of our life where we can use a little help. Some people’s vices are another expertise.

  14. Controversy aside this was a great interview and something I have pondered myself. I have received a tremendous benefit from Financial Peace University and now co-faciliate the class as well. I was looking at Dave’s program but was wondering as well how applicable it would be but feel much better about it now. In a world where everyone is some kind of financial expert (myself included) it’s nice to know that you can go somewhere and have a reasonable expectation of competence and knowledge. Well done.

    Paul @ FiscalGeek’s last blog post..WolframAlpha helps you with your Debt

  15. I am saddened by the dissing vs. the appreciation for anyone who is sincerely trying to help folks get out of debt. Debt makes people cranky, affects judgment, and eventually, can kill.

    Christianity has evidently proven true for Dave Ramsey, and truth is always good to share. If he is too “religious” for some, they can choose to switch the dial, and hopefully find sound financial advice with another. It’s all good. Let’s just focus on the value of the service, and not pick apart the messenger.

    Thanks for letting me add my two cents.

    1. I agree. Rachel seems motivated to help others and is running her own small business, to boot! I’m guessing that the dissenters don’t fault people from hiring someone to fix something around the house or on the car when they don’t have the skills, or when you order out a pizza because you don’t feel like cooking. I’m also guessing that they return their paychecks, since, you know, anyone can do their job using Google.

      Realizing you need help with finances and that you need to hire out some help is A way that people can begin working through their financial issues. Yes, you can acquire the knowledge on your own, but it’s really no different than hiring any other professional — you exchange money for their time and expertise.

      1. Ditto to this. You nailed it on the head. There are an awful lot of control freaks out there. I am one, but I’ve finally come to realize when I need to ask for help, or buy a service (most of which I am completely capable of doing myself, btw). So for those that continue to berate the services they assume are being doled out, remember that you don’t have to buy them. You can carry on just as well without meeting this seemingly cheerful, helpful soul barely known to all of us as “Rachel.”

  16. I just have to comment here, being a CPA. CPA training is all about training for taxes and auditing, with a few business classes thrown in (cause most CPA training programs are sponsored by Public CPA companies, and all they want are Auditors and Tax guys). I would love to be able to couch people about debt reduction, but training for most Financial Advising is mostly about selling the clients your products (I did a bit of training for this and didn’t like it). I’d love to be able to do the kind of work Rachel does, but I was scared to just go out in the world without having some training and background in this besides my own personal experience with debt – I’ll have to look into the Dave Ramsey training. Thanks for the great interview.

    1. Thanks for contributing your experience to the discussion. It’s very interesting to hear someone on your side of the fence outline the benefits like this. I couldn’t agree more!

  17. I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan even though I am not religious. After I read The Total Money Makeover last August I looked at his website and I distinctly remember reading in the Counselor training section that anybody is welcome to attend and complete the training, but the formal Dave Ramsey endorsement or certification is only given to Catholic or Evangelical Christians, because it is an important part of his brand identity. I looked today and I can’t find that anywhere on the site, but I know for sure that it was there last August as I distinctly remember reading that out loud to my husband when I saw it. I was actually a little disappointed to see that. I’ve never been put off by the Christian part of his message even though most of it doesn’t interest or apply to me but it seemed a little excessive.

    So I don’t know if that is still his policy, but it definitely was as of last year.

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  19. Liz,
    I have no idea wether or not his endorsement is restricted based on religion. However, I can certainly see why he would want to restrict HIS endorsement/brand identity to those who share his world view. I would not lend my name to endorse someone who had a different world view, even if we did view financial issues the same way.

  20. Thank for the post. I appreciate the information that was shared. It is unfortunate that most of the comments focused on Dave Ramsey’s choice of scriptures and stories of motivations. I am willing and able to learn from others. Regardles of ones language, geographical location, faith, gender, sexuality, income and educational level facts are facts.

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  22. On Dave’s website under the “Frequently Asked Questions”, it states the following:

    “After attending the training, you may say that you attended and completed Dave Ramsey’s Counselor Training. But whenever you use Dave’s name, this disclaimer must also appear: Completion of this training does not make me an employee or agent of Dave Ramsey, nor give me the right to speak for or bind him, nor constitute an endorsement by him. You can not represent yourself as certified, endorsed or approved.”

    However, Rachel, the information you represent the following:
    “She is a certified financial counselor and is endorsed by Dave Ramsey and the Lampo Group.” So, just how does work? Seems like you’re doing just what Dave sez counselors like yourself SHOULD NOT BE DOING! I’m confused.

    1. In response to John’s question about the certified counselor designation. They no longer have this designation however anyone who went through the training through 2009 is allowed to use the designation. Anyone who has gone through the training since can only say they were trained by DR and Lampo.

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