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What Dave Ramsey gets wrong about poverty
Financial advisor Dave Ramsey is also an evangelical Christian.
November 30th, 2013
09:59 AM ET

What Dave Ramsey gets wrong about poverty

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN 

(CNN)– Dave Ramsey is rich. And he makes his living telling other evangelical Christians how they can get rich, too.

Host of a nationally syndicated radio program and author of multiple best-selling books, Ramsey targets evangelical Christians with what he calls a “biblical” approach to financial planning, one that focuses primarily on the elimination of consumer debt. His for-profit Financial Peace University is billed as “a biblically based curriculum that teaches people how to handle money God's ways."

Much of what Ramsey teaches is sound, helpful advice, particularly for middle-class Americans struggling with mounting credit card bills. I have celebrated with friends as they’ve marked their first day of debt-free living, thanks in part to Dave Ramsey’s teachings and all those white envelopes of cash he urges his students to use instead of credit cards.

But while Ramsey may be a fine source of information on how to eliminate debt, his views on poverty are neither informed nor biblical.

Take, for example, a recent article by Tim Corley posted to Ramsey’s website. Entitled “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day,” the article presents some dubious statistics comparing the habits of the rich with the habits of the poor, including:

“70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day.”

“76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.”

“63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.”

One need not be a student of logic to observe that Corley and Ramsey have confused correlation with causation here by suggesting that these habits make people rich or poor.

For example, a poor person might not exercise four days a week because, unlike a rich person, she cannot afford a gym membership. Or perhaps she has to work two jobs to earn a living wage, which leaves her little time and energy for jogging around the park.

A poor family may eat more junk food, not because they are lazy and undisciplined, but because they live in an economically disadvantaged, urban setting where health food stores are not as available: a so-called “food desert.”

Critics were swift to point out these discrepancies and among the critics were some of Ramsey’s fellow evangelical Christians who also noted that, though the book of Proverbs certainly heralds success as a common return on faithful labor, nowhere does the Bible guarantee that good habits lead to wealth.

The writer of Ecclesiastes observed that "under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all."

And far from having contempt for the poor, Jesus surrounded himself with the needy and challenged the excesses of the rich. “Blessed are you who are poor,” he said, “for yours is the kingdom of God. … But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:24).

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle," Jesus famously said, "than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

It’s hard for the wealthy to flourish in the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated because the economy of that kingdom runs so contrary to the economies of the world. It rewards the peacemakers over the powerful, the humble over the proud, the kind over the cruel, and those who hunger to do the right thing over those whose wealth has convinced them they already are.

Ramsey responded to the pushback with an addendum to the original post calling his critics “ignorant” and “immature” and instructing them to “grow up.”

“This list simply says your choices cause results,” he said, again committing the false cause fallacy. “You reap what you sow.”

The list, he said, applies only to people living in “first world” countries, where Ramsey believes economic injustices are essentially nonexistent. While the poor in developing countries are so as a result of external circumstances beyond their control, the poor in the United States have no one to blame but themselves.

“If you are broke or poor in the U.S. or a first-world economy, the only variable in the discussion you can personally control is YOU,” Ramsey says. “You can make better choices and have better results.”

America, he argues, has prospered as a direct result of its “understanding and application of biblical truths” which have led to “life-changing industry, inventions and a standard of living never known before on this planet.”

“There is a direct correlation,” he concludes, “between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth.”

For Christians, Ramsey’s perceived “direct correlation” between faith and wealth should be more troubling than his other confused correlations, for it flirts with what Christians refer to as the prosperity gospel, the teaching that God rewards faithfulness with wealth.

Ramsey’s particular brand of prosperity gospel elevates the American dream as God’s reward for America’s faithfulness, the spoils of which are readily available to anyone who works hard enough to receive them.

But such a view glosses over the reality that America was not, in fact, founded upon purely Christian principles (unless one counts slavery, ethnic cleansing, gender inequity, and Jim Crow as Christian principles), so we should be careful of assuming our relative wealth reflects God’s favor. (The Roman Empire was wealthy, too, after all.)

It also glosses over the reality that economic injustice is not, in fact, limited to the developing world but plagues our own country as well.

When medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States, there are systemic injustices at work.

When people working 40-hour weeks at minimum wage jobs still can’t earn enough to support their families, there are systemic injustices at work.

When approximately 1% of Americans hold 40% of the nation’s wealth, there are systemic injustices at work.

When the black unemployment rate has consistently been twice as high as the white unemployment rate for the past 50 years, there are systemic injustices at work.

And throughout Scripture, people of faith are called not simply to donate to charity, but to address such systemic injustices in substantive ways.

The 17-year-old girl who lives in a depressed neighborhood zoned for a failing school system who probably won’t graduate because her grades are suffering because she has to work part-time to help support her family needs more than a few audio books to turn things around.

People are poor for a lot of reasons, and choice is certainly a factor, but categorically blaming poverty on lack of faith or lack of initiative is not only uninformed, it’s unbiblical.

God does not divide the world into the deserving rich and the undeserving poor. In fact, the brother of Jesus wrote that God has “chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him” (James 2:5).

God does not bless people with money; God blesses people with the good and perfect gift of God’s presence, which is available to rich and poor alike.

And that’s good news.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Business • Christianity • Ethics • evangelicals • Faith • Leaders • Money & Faith • Opinion

soundoff (2,299 Responses)
  1. HaveKnownPoverty

    "A poor family may eat more junk food, not because they are lazy and undisciplined, but because they live in an economically disadvantaged, urban setting where health food stores are not as available: a so-called “food desert.”

    This is pure crap. "So-called" a food desert by Rachel Evans. Health food stores? Seriously? They sell apples and peanut butter at the same convenience stores that sell hot dogs and corn dogs. And, the apples and peanut butter cost less, for the amount of food you get. Rachel is probably allergic to peanuts, and therefore thinks that everybody needs food from a health food store.

    Generalities and ignorance don't mix. If you can't learn from generalities, move on. "Poor people have poor ways." There, try that on on for size.

    December 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Ethel

      I agree with HAVEKNOWNPOVERTY because eating out of Health Food stores is unreal for everyone. And exercising is not limited to the rich. Before I began working I walked 3 miles every morning in my living room. What I do not undestand about those disagreeing with the 20 things is, why do we discourage the less advantaged from taking positive steps to improve their quality of life? All twenty things are doable for everyone and would certainly add growth.

      December 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
      • angiethinksright

        what a beautiful and simple point, Ethel. Sometimes I worry that maybe I'm oversimplifying things, but the truth is my parents were both raised in extreme poverty and these habits are things they have nurtured all their lives as middle class people. I'm afraid we've become too attached to the victim mentality in America.

        December 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • Ethel

          Thank you and I was struck by your point of view. It showed compassion and was realistic. Also, my parents were extremely poor too. As soon as they could they made moves to insure their lives would be better. The decisions they made were done so without the aid of mass media, community organizations and niether of them had had the opportunity to complete their high school educations. Yet, they knew that books were important, idleness was detrimental, eating properly had high nutritional value… all those things the author pointed out. I am pretty sure that those 20 things are far less harmful than a lot of other things issued against the poor.

          December 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  2. caralee2010

    The list on the site referenced does not judge. It does not say that the "same" people who eat junk food are watching reality TV. It does not "preach" anything. What it does do is simply list statistics. We can make of it what we will. What I make of it is that it is important to make use of the 24 hours a day we have. We can all learn something from this, if we can get over ourselves long enough to do it.

    December 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Betty

      Unfortunately the comments on Dave's blog are closed. Any insight into the data source or research methodology used to generate these "findings" ? Didn't think so...

      December 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
      • ricegf

        "Rich Habits ... is the by-product of a 5-year study [Thomas C. Corley] conducted on the daily habits of wealthy people and poor people."

        You can visit the website and learn more about the source of the data. What's with the snarky "Didn't think so..."? Are you still in elementary school?

        December 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • intimagemd

      You are SO right on this! The stats were very enlightening, weren't they?

      December 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  3. Scott

    Both sides of this "debate" is as uninformed as the Democrat vs. Republican divisions. Neither side is saying what the other is accusing them of saying. Believing either side is "right" and the other side is "wrong" is probably the single most accurate indicator of being "poor".  Quit being so petty and educate yourself of the other side's accurate points. Maybe you will learn something AND start recognizing opportunities to prosper that abound everywhere.

    December 29, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  4. intimagemd

    They can't 'go to the gym' to get exercise???? Hmm…. They can jog outside or exercise in their homes.
    The black employment rate is higher than the white? I say, "Hire the most qualified employee, regardless of color; so, if the black person is not the best choice, then he doesn't get hired!" Color does not matter. Qualifications DO! The TOP cause of many people's station in life, is brought on by THEIR OWN choices, decisions and actions. Dave Ramsey got married and furnished his home with a card table……do you think people GAVE him his wealth???? NO! HE did the hard work so HE reaped the rewards! It's very simple.

    December 29, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      A person's state of mind is formed through experiences.

      A person who is brought up in a very poor area may not ever learn the fundamentals about exercise, proper nutrition, and education. When a person doesn't know such things, they cannot imagine the end result of putting such concepts into practice. We do what we know. And your mockery of people not jogging or walking for exercise can be mocked as well; I know more than one person with ZERO time to exercise. Why? Because they are terminally (or terribly) ill themselves caring for others who are very ill. These individuals sacrifice their time to work three and four jobs JUST to take care of those they love and who are dying or very sick. There is no time for exercise or education or putting oneself through a college program.

      How does that hit you?

      December 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • Jackie

        I worked four jobs caring for sick people while attending college and I DID exercise. How does that hit you? It can be done. Quit making excuses and do something about it.

        December 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          What a stupid reply, Jakie. You obviously had the mindset and determination. Some people don't have it, because they weren't fortunate enough to grow up in your circ.umstances where you were taught to value that sort of mindset and determination.

          I'm not making excuses, nitwit, I'm describing reality. If someone has never been taught to value that sort of mindset and determination, they aren't going to make the choices you did. You and your ilk want to blame people for what they don't know and have never been taught, but let me guess, you'd not want the same treatment? If I blame you for not having the wherewithall to start a company and within a year become a fortune500 company, you'll say that I'm not being fair.

          Well how does that hit you? Why aren't you running a fortune500 company that you started from the slums of some inner city? Where is it? Are you too lazy and dumb to start a fortune 500 company? What's your excuse? Others have done it. Why not you? Too lazy and ignorant? Well, keep making excuses, I guess.

          December 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • Jackie

          Yes, name calling always comes out in educated responses.

          December 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I had to explain it twice, Jackie. Why? What didn't you get about the first time?

          December 29, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • intimagemd

          You GO, girl! Jackie, you're an example of 'getting out of life what you're willing to put into it!' You're an example of SUCCESS! Bravo!

          December 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
      • HaveKnownPoverty

        ALL children in the U.S. are taught the food pyramid, proper hygiene, and the value of exercise in public schools, regardless of the location – rural, suburban, urban. I've learned from experience that junk food is easier, but far more expensive than fresh foods from a market. A dozen eggs cost about the same as a burrito from the corner store, and will feed more for longer when properly prepared. I know, from working 3 jobs, myself, that it is much easier to buy burritos than go home and make an omelet. I choose to cook, others choose to spend their hard earned money on crap. In general, the practices of the wealthy do promote success, and in general, the habits of poverty promote poverty. How can that be so debatable?

        December 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • intimagemd

          AMEN ! The voice of reason! THANKS!

          December 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
        • teach

          HaveKnown your absolutely right, students are taught about healthy lifestyles and foods as well as about self discipline ( your grade is based upon the effort to do the work correctly), these are the very same principles espoused in the Dave Ramsey article, and i know this because that is how I am with my students in an urban school where most students come from those types of settings, also there are breakfasts, lunches and even after school healthy meals provided and yet most healthy foods get thrown away by students to eat poptarts or hot fries purchased from the convenience store nearby

          December 30, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
      • intimagemd

        How does it hit me? It hits me that they choose not to change their own lives. Trust me when I tell you that I am living proof of what is possible. That is why I refuse to pity anyone who doesn't do WHATEVER it takes to get ahead in life! You get out of life (or anything) what you're willing to put into it!

        December 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
      • irishmaryoh

        So why disparage Ramsey for trying to TEACH such disciplines to people you say have never been taught them?

        December 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
      • Ethel

        Is it safe to say that a majority of caregivers are not siiting around thumbing through magazines? There is a lot of movement involved in taking care of the ill. And if a person is terminally ill who expects them to exercise.

        I did not find the article to be judgmental, it merely lists differences. And where does a person have to live not to know that exercise and diet is important? Even the poorest school systems take time out to make that information available. It's on TV, even advertisements show results of workouts, gadgets and diets.

        What I find is that people ignore information. I don't care how many times parents are told that sodas are not good for anyone especially children, parents still give their kids sodas. …And so it goes.

        December 30, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  5. barb

    And why is it the business owners (who are paying the wages) Why is it, they can't pay a living wage? why is it the CEO gets a Christmas bonus while the "poor" get a pink slip? Are not the Rich Business owners part of the problem? But God blessed the business owner, the the working bee who makes their business run!

    What about the person who was blessed with an Physical illness, who can't work ? he/she is lazy? bad choices? hummm Is someone just going to cure him/her ? he/she didn't exercise enough? oh, wait, his/her body can't do that! He/she didn't read enough? oh, wait, that is the one thing they can do, but it didn't make their body whole to work and get rich

    Yeah right Dave! get a life I annwith Rachel Evan,

    December 29, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Bill

      poor logic you can always find one story that refutes a set of principles If you follow these 20 items your life will get better – end of story. People who are successful are too busy being successful to spend their time whining. And trust me as I become more successful I give a higher and higher percentage of my income away because that is the measure of your generosity. What percentage of their income do you think out President and Vice President give to charity? It is very low. What does this say about their hearts?

      December 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • intimagemd

        Well said, Bill!

        December 29, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
  6. barb

    And why is it the business owners (who are paying the wages) Why is it, they can't pay a living wage? why is it the CEO get Christmas bonus while the "poor" get a pink slip? Are not the Rich Business owner part of the problem?

    What about the person who was blessed with an Physical illness, who can't work ? he/she is lazy? bad choices? hummm Is someone just going to cure him/her ? he/she didn't exercise enough? oh, wait, her body can't do that! she didn't read enough? oh, wait, that is the one thing they can do, but it didn't make their body whole to work and get richQ

    Yeah right Dave! get a life I are with Rachel Evan,

    December 29, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  7. Pr.AJM

    Rachel Evans is a hack theologian with a liberal/feminist streak. It's telling that CNN gives her a spot. I doubt you'd ever see more competent exegetes such as Wayne Grudem or D.A. Carson on this site. Theologians with legitimate insights, experience, degrees, and teaching positions to back up their credibility.

    December 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The problem with theology is that there is no method of testing a concept/principle to determine whether or not it qualifies as a "legitimate insight." It's just people's feelings about ideas and their own spin about them. It's not like there are any experiments that can be done whose results can be independently measured and verified to prove or disprove that the "theological insight" is or is not correct. How silly.

      December 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  8. Annie

    My family has always been beneath the poverty line, and that is for one reason and one alone- God called them to certain jobs that don't pay much at all. God called my dad to be a Christian schoolteacher. Let me say it again – God Called Him. So, we are poor. We have no credit cards and an emergency savings, but still we are poor. Does that mean we have less faith? Not at all! In fact, our faith is increased as we see God provide.

    December 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Novo

      You may be poor in terms of income level, but you are rich in so many different areas – having peace is huge! Grace, Mercy, and Compassion is huge! Happy New Year! =)

      December 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  9. Rory

    "And that’s good news."

    Actually, that's The Good News.....Amen!

    December 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  10. Susan

    Me to Jeremiah! And many people, the poor and rich make excuses WHY they can't exercise and that spoof has nothing to do with wealth or the lack thereof. I'm glad its JUST HER OPINION because she loves to twist things into her world of thinking and NOT the true expertise of the articles that are written by Mr. Ramsey. I would much rather see people trying to make a difference in their debt then just giving up and expecting the government to bail them out. Don't get me wrong there are people that need help and I am not discrediting those sincere needs. The buck HAS to stop somewhere. If it were so failing as a concept to help people get out of debt why are so many trying it> Personally I know of several that have used this and it has helped them greatly...to be responsible for who they are and how they contribute to purposeful living!

    December 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Miller

    This article and others like it do a lot more harm than good because they encourage the poor to believe that there is no hope for them to live a better life. I personally agree with Dave Ramsey's teachings on acquiring wealth, and know them to be true from personal experience. If Miss Evans would take time to study the whole truth of the bible instead of quoting it out of context, she would find many of God's promises deal with His wanting to prosper His people. God has no problem with us prospering, He just wants us to use our increase in a manner that is pleasing to Him, and not place our riches on a level above Him. So, I pray that Ms. Evans will indeed do further study of God's Word and come to understand it better in all areas.

    December 28, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Annie

      Be careful, however, not to preach a gospel centered around prosperity. The article makes a good point to begin. For example, my family has always been beneath the poverty line, and that is for one reason and one alone- God called them to certain jobs that don't pay much at all. God called my dad to be a Christian schoolteacher. Let me say it again – God Called Him. So, we are poor. We have no credit cards and an emergency savings, principles that come from scripture, but still we are poor. Does that mean we have less faith? Not at all! In fact, our faith is increased as we see God provide.

      December 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  12. Lonnie Lovingier

    I have learned that when people in the media quote scriptre to make their point, they do so out of context and often reveal what little understanding they have of scriptures. Scriptue has to be understood and confirmed by other scriptures and an understanding when where and why it was written; this usually requires the help of a pastor-teacher. As born again Christians we know we are personally to help one another in a way that God gets the Glory. Somrtimes this is a hand out, sometimes it is a hand up. Many times I have heard Dave Ramsey state the main reason to reach financial independence is to be able to increase you aid to others. I am sure Ms Evens will develop a better understanding of all the statements she made as she matures more, both in faith and life.
    Lonnie

    December 28, 2013 at 7:09 am |
  13. Michael

    Ms. Evans writes too well to be a fool, so I can only assume she is intentionally twisting the words and meaning in Mr. Ramsey's article to argue against ideas that he clearly doesn't support. One of dozens of examples she writes:

    >“There is a direct correlation,” he concludes, “between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth.”

    For Christians, Ramsey’s perceived “direct correlation” between faith and wealth should be more troubling than his other confused correlations, for it flirts with what Christians refer to as the prosperity gospel, the teaching that God rewards faithfulness with wealth." <

    She quotes his article about correlation between wealth and habits, choices, and character. Then IMMEDIATELY claims he claimed a correlation between wealth and faith (which he clearly did not). She then goes on to condemn prosperity doctrine as if she were refuting Ramsey's teaching while she is in fact in complete agreement with his (unquoted) teaching on the subject.

    If you read this disingenuous article and get a bad impression of Dave Ramsey, know that you may well have been deceived. Try to find out more about what he thinks directly from the source. His words are freely available in MANY places (in untwisted form).

    December 28, 2013 at 1:43 am |
    • ricegf

      Yes, Ms. Evans does an excellent job of attacking Mr. Ramsey for a long list of things that he, uh, never said. For example:

      "...though the book of Proverbs certainly heralds success as a common return on faithful labor, nowhere does the Bible guarantee that good habits lead to wealth." Dave didn't use the word "guarantee", he used the word "propensity". She should look that up in her dictionary, I guess, before so blatantly misstating its meaning.

      "Corley and Ramsey have confused correlation with causation here by suggesting that these habits make people rich or poor." Dave didn't suggest these habits "make people rich or poor", he stated flatly and repeatedly that if you do what rich people do, you have a better chance (ahem, a "propensity") to become rich – and the article she blasts helpuflly lists what rich people tend to do. Not that complicated.

      "A poor family may eat more junk food, not because they are lazy and undisciplined, but because they live in an economically disadvantaged, urban setting." Mr. Ramsey never used the words "lazy" and "undisciplined", another straw man. And apparently Ms. Evans is unaware that junk food is much more expensive than basic home-cooked staples such as rice, beans, and ham hocks, however, or that eating well leads to better work and school performance than eating junk.

      "People are poor for a lot of reasons, and choice is certainly a factor". Finally, something Mr. Ramsey DOES say in his writings – but wait, Ms. Evans doesn't credit him for this statement, but rather claims it as her own. I don't think she spent much time at all familiarizing himself with his actual teachings before writing her attack piece.

      Let me close by saying that reading Ms. Evans article made me seriously concerned for the quality of journalism at CNN. Reading Mr. Ramsey's books made me a multi-millionaire.

      Frankly, I enjoyed Mr. Ramsey's writings more. Thanks, Dave! 😉

      December 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  14. jkalley

    I read both the Dave Ramsey's article and this rebuttal and have a few things I would like to add. I was the single mom. My ex-husband walked out and was never seen from again. Child support disappeared with him. I worked as many jobs as I could. I ate poorly as the macaroni was cheaper then the spinach and went further to fill us up. I did NOT smoke or drink and I tried to spend money wisely. It looked as if I was destined to be poor all my life. However, I made a few tough choices. I went back to school. I took 1 class a semester (maybe 2 at most). As i could not afford a babysitter I took my son with me to school as often as possible (he was great and colored or such quietly....he even helped with my Algebra homework once as he paid better attention and understood it better then I did and he was 10) My final year of college I had to take classes full time as I needed to do my on site clinical training...[I am now a certified occupational therapy assistant]. I quit my full time job and went on welfare. I cleaned my church for a few extra bucks a month. Friends dropped a few dollars in my pocket at times to help with a few extras. A friend fixed my car for just the cost of parts so I could keep going to school. When I graduated with my specialized associates degree I no longer would get a job at minimum wage. I immediately more then doubled that and as time went one I have more then tripled minimum. I remarried and my husband is now a H.S. teacher in his second career with 4 years experience (and a masters degree) and I bring home more money then he does. I did NOT get scholarships for school. I should have applied for some as they were available but the paperwork and the details they needed overwhelmed me. I now have a friend who is a single mom of 3 who is finishing her degree on-line and it was fully paid for through grants, scholarships and minor loans. She even got free help to fill out the forms! She also will leave her minimum wage job behind when she graduates in the spring with a bachelor's degree and at least double it fresh out of school, but it too is a sacrifice. In this country if you are willing to really make short term sacrifices for long term goals it can be done. It took me about 7 years to get a degree that should have taken no more then 3 years. It was worth it. There are scholarships available. There are community groups that will help you as much as they can.You can get a GED for FREE if you did drop out of school. You can work and study. You can find ways to manage it all in the short term if you really want too. I read a story about a family who came from Asia and used every penny they had to put a down payment on a doughnut shop and then for the next few years they LIVED in the back room of the doughnut shop. They spent less then $200 a month on everything the bought for the family. They ate only the doughnut shops food. Which was limited to soups and a few other non doughnut items. They slept on cots so paid no rent on a home. They did not drive so no car payments, gas or insurance payment. They washed up in the sinks and took real showers maybe 2 times a week at a relatives home. They worked 18 hour days each with one sleeping on the cot while another worked. However, in 3 or 4 years they completely paid off the shop and in another year used the profits to buy a home for cash and now many years later they own a string of doughnut shops and a very nice home in a great area all debt free. The decided that they were willing to live temporarily in harsh conditions to have a life time of wealth. Way to many first world people are not willing to give up the 'comforts' they think are needed to live and sacrifice NOW to have a better life later. Many people live in a home/apartment they can not afford well because it has enough bedrooms and bathrooms. Maybe the whole family needs to share a 1 bed/1 bath apartment for a year or 2 while they pay down debt. Maybe they give up TV? and rent movies and such from the library for free instead to save $50 or more dollars a month? Maybe they have a whole garage sale and clear out most of their stuff and use that to pay off the debt and then live without for a time? All painful choices. I admit that there are some people in even a first nation world like USA that has been born into generational poverty and have no skills to change that but IF they work with their friends and neighbors to try to encourage education and clean up their neighborhood from the drugs, gangs and school drop out rates etc. then possibly their kids can finally break that curse and live well. It will take a lot of work and sacrifice but parents should be willing to do that for there kids. Very few people serious have NO chance of bettering themselves in this country or any first work nation. It will be very difficult but it CAN happen. Then after the income changes they can learn to make better food choices, exercise more, read books and not just watch reality TV or such, etc. Eventually they might do most of the things on that list. (I still do not do all! Many and that is a huge improvement over where I was just 13 + years ago.

    December 27, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Jojo

      What a testimony you have! Just want to say Bravo!! Instead of making excuses you made success, so many could learn so much from your story. Congratulations on being an inspiring example to others, but mostly to your son who learned invaluable lessons at your side. He has a legacy to make his life more too!!

      December 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Sounds like a matter of mindset and determination to me. In other words, a mindset and determination that would have to be LEARNED and so TAUGHT. Reckon how many of the nation's poor have such a mindset and determination? Who teaches them such a mindset and determination, do you think?

        December 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • intimagemd

          If people are dumb enough to be led along and programmed to have a certain mindset, then they are deserving of whatever life gives them!

          December 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  15. Bob Reibel

    Typical "advocate". They sit there and say "I feel for you". They tell everyone else what to do with their lives instead of actually helping people themselves.

    December 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  16. abecedarian

    Ms. Evans' comments can best be viewed as white privileged racism. Her arguments against Ramsey prove her narrow minded protected view. Her very first statement against his list is that the poor can't afford gym memberships. What she fails to see is that you don't need a gym membership to exercise. Jogging is free. A pickup game of basketball at the park is free. Further, she fails to see that choosing to change your lifestyle is a commitment. You will find a way to be successful. It is just like weight loss... those who truly want to, find a way. Further, the YMCA, which has wonderful gym facilities has a sliding pay scale based on income.

    It has further been recently proven in multiple studies that eating healthy does not cost more. A 50 cent apple is less than a 99 cent bag of chips. Plus, most convenience stores even carry fruit now. It really doesn't take anything besides self-control to eat healthy anymore.

    Every point she makes is moot. Even audio books are free to use at a public library.

    Once again it all comes down to choices. Yes, according to Ruby Payne's "A Framework for Understanding Poverty", these decisions are based on the way people of poverty are raised. All Dave Ramsey is trying to do is train them to think and act like people who become successful. Making excuses for behavior and attacking someone who is trying to help those out of financial difficulties is strictly biased left criticism of a successful plan to help anyone achieve more. Yes, it is the American Dream.

    December 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Storybookstory

      Well said abecedarian!! Totally agree.

      December 30, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  17. Jeremiah

    I was going to take the time to write out all the misguided information provided in this article, especially Evan's misinterpretation of scripture, but I have to get to the gym. I want the last 8 minutes of my life back.

    December 27, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Jolynn

      LOL!! Love this Jeremiah! So agree!

      December 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  18. Jess

    Typical "I’m a product of my environment, so therefore it's not my fault I am in this situation." junk!! Where is the personal ownership for one's decisions? Unless you purposely choose not to, you can understand what Dave Ramsey's point and purpose for the article was! Rachel Evans should read "The Compound Effect" by Darren Hardy. Our daily choices (good or bad) over time will affect our lives in the years to come despite surroundings or environment. Does it mean a person will become rich, no it doesn’t. However they would be better off getting out from in front of the TV, reading or listening to books to personally develop, and exercising. The notion you must be able to afford a gym or have time to exercise is ludicrous! In the time I wasted reading this article I could have exercised a little bit!

    December 27, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  19. Jim

    The author has misinterpreted Dave Ramsey's advice. This is not a checklist to get rich, but a list of things that successful people do. In my life I like to look at what successful people do and see if there is anything that would help me. Just a thought. Successful people also do not become victims and make excuses they find solutions.

    There are many people that are given a head start in life and many that are held at the gate, but if you do what you can to improve yourself without excuses you will go further. If you have taken Dave's course or read his books you will also learn that he is not trying to make people rich. He is trying to make money not an issue so people can enjoy giving and living.

    December 27, 2013 at 9:42 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.