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In this episode, one woman tells us why she tried the Dave Ramsey method to get better control of her money, and why it didn't work.

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Video by Grace Lee

Based on an article by Jessica Gieck:

The Financial Diet site:

[WHOOSHING] Dave Ramsey is touted as the get out of debt fast guru.

Most likely you've heard about his show, read his books, or even done his debt payoff program. It's not rocket science.

Basically, you switch to an all-cash payment system, budget your expenses to the T, and focus on snowballing your debt payments. It's a great plan. I know multiple people who have had success with it and continue to use it long after their debt has been reduced to just an ongoing mortgage payment.

So I tried it. I really did. But it just didn't work for me.

Here's why. Number one, credit cards are more convenient than only using cash. OK, this is a no-brainer.

The ease of credit card payments distances you from the actual money outflow so you don't feel the sting of the purchase, which is why Ramsey's program has you switch to all cash. He does suggest using a debit card for the limited purchases you make online. But aside from the grocery store, these days, I rarely go shopping in person.

Instead, I can research and compare options online and skip the stores. I have both a Chase and Discover credit card because of the rewards offered by using them. The cash back program is literally free money for what we are spending anyway.

If we used a cash-only system, we would not have access to those extra bonuses. Of course, you have to be purposeful and pay off your balance each month, and to avoid high interest rates and going into debt. However, if you're paying your balance off each month and using your credit card wisely, it can be a very useful financial tool.

Not to mention, I haven't stepped foot in a bank or drove to an ATM in literally years. Seriously, I know someone who currently follows the Ramsey method and plans two weekly trips to the bank. For my husband and me, the benefits just didn't outweigh the hassle.

Number two, I have frugal financial habits already. Ramsey often emphasizes the reduction or limitation of frivolous spending. This means no dining out, not going to the movies, no extravagant gifts, buy a used car instead of a new one, et cetera.

But my husband and I already were pinching pennies and limiting these expenses, including both owning a used car. So Ramsey telling us to do so really had no impact on us. We also had debt.

Like many others, we have school loans and a car loan, but we made payments on time and put extra money towards it whenever possible. Number three, a rolling budget simply wasn't compatible. In his program and books, Dave Ramsey gives worksheets for developing a monthly budget.

It's specific and detailed. The premise is that you write down literally everything you use your money on. The specifics help guide you to know exactly how much you spend each month and when to know if a purchase is worthy of your money or not.

The cash aspect of the program means when you're out of cash, you're out of money, period. I don't agree with this thought process. Obviously, if you're in debt and won't be able to make a credit card payment, don't overspend.

But our household operates under a rolling budget. In simple terms, if we go over in, say, grocery expenses one month, it's OK, because we just take that into account in the coming months. We're looking at the big picture and trying to make progress long term, not just for that month.

We track every single expense in our budget spreadsheet, and we know where our money is going at all times. We know that being diligent will even things out and get us back on track despite a bad month. Number four, it requires 100% commitment.

Half the reason why the Ramsey method works for so many people is because it forces you to think about money constantly while working really hard to save or gain it. It shows the results of your efforts as you pay off debt and build savings. However, I think you can still accomplish these financial goals without the drastic measures he prescribes.

When I tried doing the Dave Ramsey method, it was too hard to have my husband and myself follow all the rules. I think this works better for people of a certain mindset. Some people I know from college went through money like it was nothing.

And after a good old Mom and Dad's money was gone, they rack up credit card debt in an effort to still live a pricey lifestyle. For people like this, I can imagine how a strict, no-excuse program would be beneficial. But for my household, the buy-in just wasn't there when we couldn't see the substantial enough evidence of its worth.

Number five, we want our money to work for us. Not all debt is bad. Some people may disagree, and this mentality certainly doesn't jive with the premises in Ramsay's book.

He is trying to help people become debt free. Sweet and simple, I think everyone can agree that credit card debt is not desirable. Hello?

Sky high interest rates. But he goes so far as to suggest buying cars or even a home with cash. Now, if you have lots of extra cash laying around, by all means, go buy a car with 100% cash.

But my husband and I agreed that we would lean towards signing a low-interest loan over pulling from savings. If you have good credit, there are loan options available that are interest-free for the first year. This allows us to leave our money in savings and investments so that we can be earning interest on that money instead of taking it all out for a cash purchase.

Obviously, you need to be careful and not get a loan that is too big for you, and you need to be reasonable. We can't all live in mansions and drive Porsches. Again, this is what is comfortable to us and is not necessarily for everyone.

Each to his or her own, right? Dave Ramsey has helped millions of people get out of debt. I think anyone could glean some helpful takeaways from his books, programs, show, et cetera.

However, at the end of the day, financial management comes down to a belief, an operating system that works for your household. After giving it the old college try, I can confidently say that his program just isn't for me.