Many today ask if Dave Ramsey is a fraud.
The question itself seems ironic, actually. Why? Based on our research, Ramsey himself warns against various types of fraud. As a financial guru, he advocates for being smart financially.
In fact, on his own website, there's an article about it:
What’s the first thing you think of when someone says the word fraud? Is it Bernie Madoff? Or is it a corporate scheme like the ones at Enron or WorldCom?
Either way, people and companies who make money by lying are enough to make you lose faith in humanity.
But don’t lose hope. The more you know about fraud, the easier it is to protect yourself.
It's all the more awkward now because some people actually use "fraud" and Ramsey in the same sentence.
In June 2023, some of his listeners accused a timeshare exit company of fraudulent practices. Because Ramsey promoted the company on his show, these listeners sued him for $150 million.
However, we still do not know if he really engages in such activities. In fact, many followers defend him and his legacy as a financial advisor to the masses.
In a Politico article, The Financial Whisperer to Trump’s America, the writer describes him this way:
Beloved for his down-home manner and direct, time-to-take-your-medicine approach, Ramsey is the pro bono financial adviser to millions of Americans who otherwise could never afford one.
As you can see, there's a lot to unpack here. For this reason, we invite you to keep reading as we will tackle these issues in detail.
In the end, you will know more about him, his services, and the controversies around him. Aside from that, our goal is to help you discern better how to protect yourself against fraud.
- Name: Dave Ramsey
- Company: Ramsey Solutions
- Website: www.ramseysolutions.com
- Service: Personal finance products and services
We will probe whether Dave Ramey is a fraud or a legit financial expert. Thus, we will examine his background, beliefs, and services. Unlike most of what we review here, he is not a newsletter editor.
But he does provide a variety of services on his website. But the closest offer from the guru may be his Smartvestor Pro. In it, Ramsey connects you to a finance professional in your area.
This way, you will get investment advice based on your specific preferences. The service charges via fees and/or commissions.
We will provide more details about all these below, so keep reading.
Who is Dave Ramsey?
Dave Ramsey is a Christian broadcaster focused on finance. The guru also often speaks at various events and shows to share his views. He has also released several books on the topic.
Aside from his popular radio show, he also has services that all revolve around practical financial advice to everyday people. All these are under Ramsey Solutions, where he is the founder and CEO.
One of his core teachings is living a debt-free life. In fact, many of his followers also want the same lifestyle. As a result, they look to him for solutions to their everyday money problems.
Over the years, his influence has reached millions in the U.S. and around the world. Ramsey has budgeting tools, investment guidance, books, and financial education services.
Among all his offerings, his company also provides personal coaching programs. Clients can get specific guidance for their circumstances from Ramsey and his coaches.
Based on our research, one-on-one sessions like these offer advice on saving, budgeting, and managing debt.
The truth is, he also struggled with money when he was just starting. When he was younger, the author made unwise financial decisions. At his lowest point, he even filed for bankruptcy.
But according to his profile, this was his tipping point. As a result, he strived to learn more about financial management. While he learned along the way, the radio host also began sharing his thoughts with other people.
Due to his experiences, you can tell how he really pushes one main idea. You should avoid debt as much as possible. For him, those in debt should employ the "debt snowball method."
The technique involves paying your smallest debts first before the biggest ones. When you do this, you will gain the momentum and inspiration to pay all your debts.
Also, Ramsey believes saving and investing are the best combination for building wealth. His core principles regarding finance are in these three simple ideas:
- Avoid debt,
- Live within your means, and
- Invest in your future.
The man and his beliefs on finance may be simple. However, he has a complicated reputation, as there have been controversies surrounding his name.
These may be among the reasons why some ask if Dave Ramsey is a scam artist or the real deal when it comes to financial advice. Continue reading as we will discuss more about him and his issues.
Since Ramsey is a popular public figure, it is understandable that he gets much attention. Naturally, not all these will paint him in a positive light.
But we want to let you know about some issues about him. For sure, there are a lot more, but we believe these will give you an idea. We hope that you will want to know more and research further.
In the end, it's still up to you. Others just like the quality of his ideas, but some also pay a lot of money for his services. So those who invest in his services must know a lot about him and do not subscribe mindlessly.
$150 Million Lawsuit
In June 2023, various headlines featured Ramsey. Unfortunately, the press coverage was not great.
A number of his listeners sued the personal finance advisor for $150 million. According to them, the timeshare exit company Ramsey promoted defrauded them.
The company in question, Timeshare Exit Team, is now known as Reed Hein & Associates. It was supposed to help people terminate challenging timeshare contracts.
According to a CBS News article:
The suit said Timeshare Exit Team failed to help customers and instead employed "false statements and delay tactics" to "stave off the customers' realization that they were being defrauded."
The complaint says Reed Hein charged customers between $4,000 and $72,000. However, the services turned out to be misleading. Allegedly, customers paid a total of $70 million in fees to be released from their timeshares.
According to the complainants, Ramsey received over $30 million between 2015 and 2021. This is the payment for endorsing Timeshare Exit Team on The Ramsey Show.
The crux of the suit alleges that Ramsey violated consumer protection laws. It alleges that he is promoting misleading, false, and incomplete information. Based on the documents, Ramsey allegedly earned $450,000 monthly from this arrangement.
The litigation names Ramsey Solutions, the radio anchor's company, and Happy Hour Media Group, his marketing company, as defendants.
News reports also say that Timeshare Exit Team ceased operations in 2021. This, after agreeing to pay $2.6 million to settle charges related to its deceptive practices.
So, what's the main issue here? According to the complainants, the key point is deception. They trusted the Christian broadcaster and his recommendations.
But a company he endorsed turned out to be an alleged "scam."
As of this writing, Ramsey and his company have not responded to media inquiries yet. While the judicial process is ongoing, we admit we do not have all the details yet.
But we can say that this is where consumer protection comes in. If you have been reading our blog for a while now, you would know why we are here in the first place.
Green Bull Research advocates for more transparency in the investment research industry. We believe that the more subscribers know, the better they can make decisions.
We write articles like this because consumers like you deserve truthful information. Aside from demanding this from companies, we encourage our readers to research independently.
There are lots of information out there. However, many of these are from the minds of marketing spin doctors. So you need to be more discerning about where you invest to protect your money.
If you want to know more about our past articles discussing such issues, you may read some of them:
- Raging Bull Fraud – Are They Outright Scammers?
- Roger Scott – Scam Alert or A Legit Expert?
- Is Bill Bonner A Scam Artist or An Investing Expert?
- The Agora – Scam Company or Legit? [Reviewed]
Anti Pre-Marital Sex Policy?
Another controversy Ramsey's involved in includes a supposed company policy.
A 2021 Business Insider article has the title: Evangelical radio star Dave Ramsey's company says it fires employees if they have premarital sex.
The write-up discusses his controversial policy of firing employees for premarital sex. It also raises questions about the company's treatment of its employees and adherence to labor laws.
Apparently, his company, Ramsey Solutions, has a policy of firing employees for having premarital sex.
This specific policy became the subject of a legal dispute with a former employee the company allegedly fired for being pregnant.
However, Ramsey's firm counters that the firm did not fire the employee for being pregnant. As per its statement, she was let go because she is not married to the child's father.
According to the company, premarital sex violates their standards of "strong character" and "Righteous Living."
Moreover, the company claimed to have fired eight other employees in the past five years for having premarital sex. It's not discriminatory, but just a policy employees agreed to, it claims.
However, the former employee's lawyers argue that her firing violated federal and state laws regarding maternity leave. As its founder, though, Ramsey stated that the policy is intended to "help people stay in line."
In addition, former employees came out and spoke about the issue. They described the company's environment as "cult-like."
Many also raised concerns about control over employees' private lives and the lack of COVID-19 safety measures. In response, the company disputed many of the claims made in a report about its practices.
Speaking of COVID, NBC News Online wrote an article about him with the headline: Dave Ramsey fired staffer for taking Covid precautions, lawsuit says.
Based on the reports, the complaint alleges religious discrimination. According to Brad Amos, a former Ramsey staff, the reason behind his firing was his COVID-19 precautionary measures.
He alleges that the company frowns upon wearing masks. Ramsey Solutions also did not appreciate that he requested to work from home during the pandemic.
The lawsuit also describes how it was working in the company. As per Amos, the environment was "cult-like." In fact, people there did not even take the pandemic seriously.
Why? Allegedly, you were considered spiritually weak if you didn't want to work in the office due to the virus. Other staff will also mock you if you wore face masks, Amos says.
The former staffer also alleges that Ramsey believed taking safety measures "went against the will of God." Instead of social distancing, Amos says employees relied on prayer to protect themselves.
Additionally, since he wanted to protect his family's health and safety by requesting remote work, his contract was terminated. The former employee said his family members were high-risk.
Amos's suit said this was "religious discrimination and retaliatory discharge."
According to the article, Ramsey Solutions denies Amos's allegations. The main reason they fired him was because of poor performance. Moreover, the firm maintains they follow COVID-19 laws and regulations.
In the past, people criticized Ramsey for allegedly holding a large indoor party during the pandemic. According to reports, attendees did not even wear gloves or masks.
As with the other complaints, the firm denies these as well.
To reiterate, our purpose for laying these out is to help you know more about Ramsey. This is not to cast judgment on him, his company, and his services.
However, we believe giving you more information about them will be better for you. Giving you more details will help you better decide if you want to trust him or not.
Unlike most of what we review here, Ramsey offers something different. Instead of the usual investment research newsletters, his company provides personalized services.
Smartvestor Pro connects clients with qualified financial advisors and investment professionals near them. According to the website, the company has vetted all these advisors.
Aside from investment advice, they can help clients with the following:
- Financial planning,
- Retirement planning,
- Wealth management,
- College savings plans, and
- Estate planning.
Upon checking, these advisors can charge you through fees and commissions. Based on this, the services are personalized according to your needs.
In fairness to Ramsey Solutions, you could find many free resources on the website if you think you're not ready to talk to a professional.
The major services on the website fall under four categories. These are Home Buying and Selling, Retirement and Investing, Insurance and Protection, and Taxes.
As for the products, there are three main headings. Ramsey says his company can help you:
- Pay off debt and build wealth,
- Lead your business, and
- Find a career you love.
The specific offerings include:
Financial Peace University
According to the website, it is an in-person or online course that helps students attain financial freedom. The topics in the nine-week program include insurance, investing, and budgeting, among others.
Ramsey himself teaches each lesson. If you attend the classes, you can access worksheets, videos, and group discussions.
Total Money Makeover
This bestseller from Ramsey will teach you a specific step-by-step plan for financial freedom, per the website. Reading his book will teach you the seven baby steps you need to "get out of debt, build an emergency fund, save for retirement, and become wealthy."
The company offers this budgeting tool to those who want to track their finances. You can use this on your phone and your laptop, making it easy to know how much you spend and save.
Many find it especially useful since you can sync it with your bank account, where it will automatically track each transaction.
The Dave Ramsey Show
Those who want to hear from the man himself can tune in to his daily radio show and podcast. It is available on more than 600 radio stations in America.
Ramsey himself takes calls from listeners. Anyone can ask questions about business, personal finance, and even leadership.
You can check for yourself the other services and products as there are a lot. It also helps that the website is user-friendly, so you won't have difficulty navigating it.
Mutual Funds Recommendations
Aside from these services, people also look to Ramsey for his opinions on various ways of investing. For this reason, many are curious on his stance regarding mutual funds.
He is unlike other finance heavyweights like Warren Buffett who recommend ETFs. In fact, picking the best mix of mutual funds is one of his core investing philosophies.
We have deeply examined this on our exposé of Ramsey's mutual funds picks. According to him, you should evenly spread out your money on four types:
- growth and income,
- aggressive growth, and
However, the radio host does not divulge which actual funds he invests in. To be fair, he gave some clues that are fairly helpful for us.
This is why Green Bull Research put on its investigative hat to know what his preferred accounts are. According to him, these yield around 12% per year.
Based on our research, they could possibly be:
- (AIVSX) American Funds' Investment Company of America
- (AGTHX) American Funds' The Growth Fund of America
- (AEPGX) American Funds EuroPacific Growth Fund
- (VWUSX) Vanguard U.S. Growth Fund
- (AWSHX) American Funds Washington Mutual Investors Fund
Of these, we are pretty confident of the first three.
Are these really great funds?
We go into detail about their performance on our Dave Ramsey's Mutual Fund Picks Exposed article. But in a nutshell, yes they are okay. They may actually be good picks, in fact.
But we are not too convinced that you will get your money's worth in them. The truth is, we are puzzled why Ramsey puts so much faith in mutual funds.
It could be that he earns commissions from local providers. Based on the Timeshare controversy, advertising dollars may also be involved, we're not sure.
But based on his years of trying to help people, it could also be his sincere belief that mutual funds are the safest for everyday investors.
Again, read our past article on Dave Ramsey's mutual funds picks to know more about this topic.
As of this writing, Ramsey Solutions has 2.5/5 stars from Better Business Bureau. This is from 14 customer reviews.
Obviously, the comments are mixed. Many of them appreciate Ramsey and his Bible-based advice. Some also like the budgeting app from the team.
However, there were complaints about charges for his services. Some also didn't like the customer service. Obviously, there were also comments about the timeshare company he endorsed.
User "Mike E" gave Ramsey's company one star with this comment:
I would not engage with any Ramsey-recommended resource. I tried their recommended tax specialist and was deeply disappointed.
Here are some of the other complaints:
As for the commendations, here are some examples:
We paid off our house December of 2021. Dave Ramsey has changed our lives.
This man has the best budget program ever. It may seem like a long road or a struggle but I'm telling you it works. It's a short sacrifice to become debt-free and live comfortable. This guy knows what he's talking about.
Being debt free has changed our lives. I retired at age 59. I have a net worth of 1.3 million. Dave’s plan works and we will never go back in debt. We are living the true American Dream.
In Pissed Consumer, the company has a 2.2/5 rating from five reviews by the time we publish this article. The tone of the comments are just similar to the ones in BBB.
As for you, we encourage you to do additional research. These reviews are based on others' experiences. You may obviously have a different encounter with the company, so just use them as a guide.
Pros v Cons
- Ramsey offers a variety of products and services that will cater to people at various stages of their financial journey.
- The financial advisor's views and advice are widely available on many platforms.
- Ramsey Solutions offers personalized investment advice from vetted professionals.
- There are questionable endorsement deals. Since many rely on his advice, people take them as gospel truth. But what if a company he advertises runs into some trouble?
- People who do not subscribe to his Christian worldview may find some of his advice and views problematic.
- You won't get advice on stocks and other investments unless you talk to their advisors in your area.
Conclusion - Is Dave Ramsey a Fraud?
Due to some headlines, people ask if Dave Ramsey is a fraud or a real finance genius.
Many regard him as a leading public financial expert. He has many services on his website. There are products to help people get out of debt. Some services teach regular folks to build their wealth.
The Christian radio host has many followers. He has popular books, events, and programs where people swear by the results.
However, various controversies surround Ramsey and his company.
Former believers sued him in June 2023 for $150 million. According to the suit, he essentially misled them. Since they trusted him, they believed the company he endorsed was legit.
However, it defrauded them. So they want accountability from Ramsey since they deem him responsible for their financial losses. As of this writing, we have not seen a response from Ramsey Solutions yet.
Aside from this, a former employee also sued the company. She said the firm fired him because she was pregnant. Another former staff said Ramsey let him go because he took COVID-19 precautions.
Regarding online reviews, some are positive and others are negative. We expected this, of course. But we wanted to show you some of them to give you an idea.
Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself. You can listen to Ramsey, read his books, and learn about him. If his ideas are for you, go for it. If you find him problematic, don't subscribe or pay for his services.
So, is Dave Ramsey a fraud, or is he legit? Based on our research, let us know your thoughts below.