I’m a huge fan of Dave Ramsey. Thanks to some of his teachings, my husband and I are almost debt free and a lot more responsible with our money. We have two paid off vehicles, no mortgage, and have cut our lifestyle back enough that we don’t have to worry about too many bills that we can’t afford. My husband even once took his advice about working two jobs, much to my chagrin, and worked evenings at a gas station. Right now, when my husband is home and can watch the kids, I am working part time at a grocery store. Yeah, it’s minimum wage, but it’s money. Every little bit helps.
There’s really only one thing about his teachings that sticks in my craw. It’s not the debt snowball – that’s brilliant. Pay off a small debt, roll that payment into the next largest debt, pay off that one, and keep rolling payments together until you have everything paid off. It’s not the gazelle intensity – that’s genius. Attack your debt and don’t let anything get in your way. No… what irritates me the most is how he responds to people when they ask him how he’s doing. He says, “Better than I deserve.” I thought that was pretty cool when I first read his books and we were on our way. I mean, I once felt like I didn’t really deserve much good coming my way because of the financial mess I was in. But now? Now we’ve done a complete 180 and I honestly feel like we DO deserve a bit of good after all our sacrifice and hard work.
It just doesn’t make sense to me. Better than I deserve. What does that mean, anyway? Well, taken in the context he says it in, I’m guessing it’s a religious sentiment meaning that we all fall short of the glory of god and should be thankful that this glorious god sees fit to grant us existence in his wonderful world and bless us all with things like food and shelter and life insurance. But wait… is that really how some people think? Do they really attribute any effort they put in to bettering their lives as some sort of divine interference that never would have happened if this benevolent deity had decided not to take pity on their poor, wretched souls? Is it really the consequence of some random blessing instead of hard work and sacrifice?
I’m not a big believer in karma or divine intervention. What goes around doesn’t always come around. Sometimes you’re lucky, and sometimes you’re not. But I do believe that if you work hard for something and really strive to do the best you can, then you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. I see so many lazy indigents these days who blame some invisible god for all their suffering or piously celebrate each little unearned victory in their life and attribute it to some god or another blessing them. I see people who have strove for excellence in their lives, people who have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into a life of achievements… yet the credit all goes to some non-existent eye in the sky. Why? Why is it so scary to think that we as humans can EARN and DESERVE a good life?
Why is it shameful to think of yourself as a good person deserving of the love, admiration, and praise of other people?
There’s too much hate, fear, and shame in this world. People hate themselves. People hate each other. People hate anything different. They fear the unknown and the wonderful. People who ascribe to this “better than I deserve” mindset don’t value themselves as highly as they should. If you respect yourself, if you have not fallen prey to greed, hate, laziness, disrespect for other people, and any other indicators of a poor morality, then why not walk with your chin held high? Be proud of all the things that you and you alone have accomplished. Respect yourself enough to give credit where credit is due: you.
In my opinion, the only time it’s okay to use the “better than I deserve” line is if you truly don’t deserve good. If you are an abuser of help via your community, your friends, your family, your government, or your church… you don’t deserve good. When good happens to you, you are undeserving. If you harbor hate in your heart for people who have done you no harm but are of a different race, creed, religion, gender, culture, or sexuality… then you don’t deserve good. If you are in a hole that you dug yourself and you blame everyone but yourself while you wallow in your self-made misery instead of doing something about it… you don’t deserve good.
I know he’ll probably never read this, but Dave Ramsey DOES deserve good things. He’s helped not only himself and his family, but thousands upon thousands of other people. Dave, and anyone else who has worked hard to achieve good things in their life, you deserve better. You’ve earned better.
When people ask me how I am, I smile and tell them, “Fantastic!” because I am confident that I am responsible for my own happiness and my own self-worth. Right now, I’m pretty happy and feeling very worthy. So, how are you?