Dave Ramsey is a money-management expert who has written many top-selling books about personal finance and budgeting. His one-size-fits-all approach has helped millions find their way out of debt. However, many find his program to be extreme and hard to achieve, so are there any alternatives?
Alternatives to Dave Ramsey include pursuing financial coaching to reading the books to tuning into other personal finance gurus’ podcasts. These are just some options if you are looking to learn effective ways to get out of debt.
In this article, I will show you a few other gurus, some self-guided options, provide lists of recommended books, podcasts, and courses. Basically, I will provide all the resources you need to help you achieve financial freedom. Let’s get started.
1. The “You Need a Budget” Program
If you are looking for a specific program to follow, like Ramsey provides, You Need a Budget, or YNAB seems to be an up-and-coming favorite among Americans. It is a “forward-thinking and proactive” budgeting program that operates through the YNAB app. YNAB sets itself apart from other personal finance apps because of the forward-thinking approach.
Most personal financing apps have a function to track your spending and give you statistics at the end of the month to see where your money is being spent easily. The thought is that you then go into the next month with these numbers in mind. However, YNAB assesses your financial situation before you start spending.
YNAB allows you to link checking and savings accounts and credit cards. You then create your budget in the app. The app tracks send notifications as you spend in each budget category, notifying you proactively as you approach your budget’s top-ends, allowing you to either adjust your budget or give you time to reconsider your spending before going over budget.
In addition to these functions in the app, YNAB also offers live 20-minute classes to help users optimize the program. These classes also highlight specific topics like debt-repayment plans, breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, and more.
As of this writing, the app has an annual fee of $83.99 and has an option for a one-month free trial before you commit. Although this may seem like a steep price for an app that is supposed to help you save money, most users report saving and an average of $200 during the free-trial period.
2. Kumiko Love: The Budget Mom
Kumiko Love, who is known best for her social media accounts, is called The Budget Mom, making her place in the personal finance space for her cash-spending approach to spending and saving money. Her social media following is growing as she speaks particularly well to stay-at-home parents trying to navigate living on a single income while providing fulfilling opportunities and experiences for their families.
3. Clark Howard
Clark Howard is a consumer expert with a top-rated podcast, The Clark Howard Podcast, and has a nationally broadcasted radio show, The Clark Howard Show. His website is full of resources on credit, insurance, investing, and retiring. Clark Howard is preferred to Dave Ramsey at times as his approach and explanations are not as extreme and allow people to feel they can still live their lives while taking control of their finances.
4. Michelle Singletary
Michelle Singletary writes the award-winning column The Color of Money that appears in The Washington Post on Wednesdays and Sundays. She also has written three personal finance books and is a frequent contributor to NPR. The Color of Money columns are archived and easily accessible. The format of answering readers’ questions is easy to understand and relate to.
5. Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi
The mother-daughter duo of Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi has authored two books, The Two-Income Trap and All Your Worth. Both books examine the causes of personal bankruptcy and economic insecurity in American households. All Your Worth offers solutions and teaches you how to balance your money, giving financial peace and well-being.
6. Grant Cardone
Grant Cardone‘s financial advice is unique when comparing it to the other listed experts. Instead of focusing on staying out of debt and spending, Cardone’s approach focuses on making more money. Cardone offers solutions and ways to create additional income streams. Cardone himself is an entrepreneur and the New York Times best-selling author of the book The 10x Rule.
7. Self-Guided Personal Finance
The fact that you are reading this may indicate that self-directed budgeting may work best for you. I am in that same camp. I like to DIY just about everything in my life and using a hybrid of several different methods has worked well for me.
In fact, an argument many have when it comes to investing in Ramsey’s books and courses is that so much of what is shared is just common sense. Often these courses serve as more of a motivator than a teacher of what to do. People find that if they can find self-motivation, they can create and stick to a personal budget on their own.
The simplest way to do this is to spend a few months of determining your budget by tracking all monthly spending and comparing it to your monthly income. After finding these averages and determining how much money you are wanting to save, it can be very easy to create a simple budget.
With some discipline and hard work, this approach alone can lead to financial freedom. Pairing this with some of the free blogs and podcasts mentioned and taking advantage of library books, the combination of common sense and free resources will be the most cost-effective financial strategy.
Take One of These Courses
In today’s world of technology, it is easy to find personal finance courses, some that are similar to Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Courses can be helpful as they offer some unique benefits like creating a community of like-minded people also working towards the same financial goals. Normally, these courses are more comprehensive than a blog or podcast since there is a fee to participate in the course.
Earlier this year, U.S. News published a list of the 10 Best Personal Finance Courses. As you can see, one of Ramsey’s courses made a list. But there are many other great options:
- Ramsey Solutions’ Financial Peace University
- Suze Orman’s Personal Finance Online Course
- Brigham Young University’s personal finance courses
- Udemy.com’s personal finance course
- Purdue University’s Planning a Secure Retirement Course
- Duke University’s Behavioral Finance Course
- Alison.com’s Financial Literacy Course
- Smart About Money Courses
- Money Skills
- Khan Academy’s Personal Finance Classes
Check Into These Personal Finance Books and Blogs
Although Ramsey’s book is one of the most well-known, several other personal finance books lead to a big return on investment. And of course, books do not even need to be an investment. All of the books listed and more will likely be able to be found for free at your local library. A reason many people look for an alternative to Ramsey is because of the cost of his courses and programs so being able to use free resources is a great alternative.
The Business Insider published a list of the best personal finance books for 2020. The Personal Finance Insider team created the list with good reads for every stage of life. The books were picked by the team based on their personal favorites and the top-rated and reviewed on Amazon. The list includes:
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
- The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
- Retire Before Mom and Dad by Rob Berger
- When She Makes More by Farnoosh Torabi
- Women & Money by Suze Orman
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- You Are a Badass at Making Money by Sincero
- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
- Spend Well, Live Rich by Michelle Singletary
- Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
- Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry
- Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner
- The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage
- The Money Manual by Tonya B. Rapley
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to books that can help you achieve financial freedom. Simple Google searches or a visit to your local library will be able to help you find even more. But many of these titles are newer and are mindful of the current climate of today’s economy and the financial situation of many in America.
In addition to books, personal finance blogs are also easily accessible. And the best thing about the blogs is that they are free. However, if you choose to use personal finance blogs, remember that many bloggers are compensated by referring to specific products and services, leading to biases. But with thorough research on credibility, you will find a lot of valuable content all at no cost.
Follow These Podcasts
Just like books and blogs, personal finance podcasts are easily accessible and often free or at least low-cost. There are tons of podcasts out there, so it may take some time to find one best suited for your specific needs. Not only the quantity of podcasts, but the quality of them is exceptional.
Eric Brotman has been in the financial planning and wealth management industry for nearly twenty years and has had his own firm for over fifteen years, managing $400 million for families across the U.S. Brotman compiled a list of the top personal finance podcasts to listen to in 2020 that was published in Forbes. Find the list below:
- Bigger Pockets Money
- Afford Anything
- HerMoney with Jean Chatzky
- The Personal Finance Show with Beau Humphreys
- Millennial to Millionaire
- Don’t Retire… Graduate (Brotman’s podcast)
These podcasts are all found in the iTunes app and can also be listened to through Google Podcasts. And keep in mind, the podcasts will oftentimes be partnered with and will interview other professionals and services in the personal finance space, giving you an opportunity to explore other alternatives and resources.
8. Direct Financial Coaching
If you like taking more of a hands-off approach to financing and want to get direct help, there is nothing wrong with finding a qualified professional to help guide you. The good news is that it is probably not as expensive to do so as you might think.
A very traditional way to control your finances is to work one-on-one with a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP. Many large financial advisory firms are making this an accessible option. Some of the largest and most well-known firms include Edward Jones, Fidelity Investments, and Wells Fargo. Many metropolitan areas also have local, privately owned firms.
Choosing this route, you will contract with a personal advisor who will guide you on the most effective ways to pay off debt, invest your money, and continue saving. Often, CFPs will charge you a percentage of your total assets, usually something around 1%, as their annual fee. So while this is a great option, you might be wondering if you can pursue financial coaching without any assets.
Luckily, some CFPs charge by the hour or even have a flat fee for providing a financial plan. Finding a CFP with this sort of compensation model will take some shopping around. There are also some online options you can pursue when considering financial coaching.
A simple Google search will help you find the many financial websites you can choose from for financial planning. One of the most common uses is Mint.com, which you can use for free. But it is important when choosing a financial planner, whether it be one you meet one-on-one or something you use online, that you do ample research.
Steer away from anything that promises any get-rich-quick scheme, as it likely is too good to be true. Be sure to find a trusted professional. This approach to financial freedom of course will be the most personalized and could likely be the most effective method as you are able to create a personal relationship with your advisor who will have a true understanding of your unique goals.
About the Ramsey Method
If you have found this article, it is likely you already are somewhat familiar with the work of Dave Ramsey. Millions of Americans have used Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover and his program Financial Peace University. His program strictly follows seven baby steps that include starting an emergency savings account, paying off all debt by starting with the smallest payment, and then filling your emergency savings account with 3-6 times your monthly income.
This approach works, but many people start to seek alternatives because Ramsey’s approach is very one-size-fits-all. His approach is not practical for many. One reason is that he has a very strict belief in the dangers of credit cards. Many people struggle with credit card debt, but many people also depend and benefit greatly from credit card rewards. The way Ramsey denounces credit cards can be off-putting to the millions who benefit from them.
As mentioned, the Ramsey method includes paying off all debt, starting with the lowest payment. This is referred to as the debt snowball method. However, this method has received criticism from others in the personal finance space. Although the steps he shared in his books and taught in Financial Peace University will help people pay off debt and grow their savings, there are other ways to pay off debt more quickly.
Others will argue the best way to pay off debt is by paying off accounts with the highest interest. Ramsey argues that the debt snowball method is more effective because of the accomplishment people feel when they completely pay off credit cards. He argues this accomplishment is what leads people to commit long-term to his program. But again, the efficiency is still questioned.
And finally, many Americans do not find Financial Peace University and other Ramsey teachings to be the most reasonable or practical. His program leaves little wiggle room to tailor based on an individual’s or family’s specific needs. The Ramsey program’s intensity leads people who choose his method not to dedicate long-term, and then they end up in the same situation they started in.
Again, although Ramsey has helped millions of Americans who are up to their ears in debt, there are other options that you may find more reasonable. Let us start discussing some of the other approaches you may take control of your finances.
Just keep in mind that there are other personal finance gurus out there with books, blogs, and programs designed for success. A few preferred experts were listed here. Again, depending on your financial situation, different advice may be more helpful for you. Doing some thorough research and trial and error will hopefully help you find advice that best aligns with your situation.
Although Dave Ramsey may be the most well-known option for tackling debt, luckily, the quantity and quality of other options are growing more and more. And all of these options allow you to seek out a variety of views. From one-on-one financial coaching to books, blogs, and podcasts by other experts in the personal finance space, there is no need to wonder if a one-size-fits-all approach will work for you.
Remember the importance of taking time to research the approach and expert whose advice you are using. And take time to find an approach that best aligns with your financial goals. With nearly limitless options, it can quickly become overwhelming, but hopefully, this guide helps you on your way to achieving financial peace and freedom.
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