Dave Ramsey Tells Millions What to Do With Their Money. People Under 40 Say He’s Wrong. - Kanebridge News
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Dave Ramsey Tells Millions What to Do With Their Money. People Under 40 Say He’s Wrong.

Young adults are rejecting the finance guru’s advice to live frugally while getting out of debt

By JULIE JARGON
Wed, Feb 21, 2024 10:43amGrey Clock 4 min

On their own for the first time, young professionals are craving sound financial advice. They just don’t want to hear it from Dave Ramsey.

Ramsey, the well-known and intensely followed 63-year-old conservative Christian radio host, has 4.4 million Instagram followers, 1.9 million TikTok followers and legions more who listen to his radio shows and podcasts. His message is brutal and direct: Avoid debt at all costs. Pay for everything in cash. Embrace frugality.

Plenty of 20- and 30-year-olds are pushing back, largely on TikTok. The hashtag #daveramseywouldntapprove, for instance, has 66.8 million views. Many say they don’t want to eat rice and beans every night—a popular Ramsey trope —or hold down multiple jobs to pay off loans. They also say Ramsey is out of touch with their reality.

Rising inflation has led to surging prices for groceries, cars and many essentials. The cost of a college education has skyrocketed in two decades, with the average student debt for federal loans at $37,000, according to the Education Department. Overall debts for Americans in their 30s jumped 27% from late 2019 to early 2023 —steeper than for any other age group. And home prices have risen considerably, while wages haven’t kept pace.

“What Dave Ramsey really misses is any kind of social context,” says Morgan Sanner, a 26-year-old who runs a résumé-advice company in Columbus, Ohio, and has shared her feelings about Ramsey on TikTok.

She began paying off $48,000 in student loans (a Ramsey do ) and also took out a loan to buy a 2016 Honda (a Ramsey don’t ). Her rationale was that it was safer to pay extra for a more reliable car than a junker she could buy with cash. She feels these sorts of real-life decisions don’t factor into his advice. Her video about this has 875,000 views.

Through a spokeswoman, Ramsey declined an interview request. Direct messages to Ramsey went unanswered.

For Ramsey—whose TikTok posts often contain incendiary tidbits from his radio show—the pushback might be part of the plan. After all, uncomfortable advice is a key component of his success.

‘Pretty much screwed already’

Naiomi Israel began watching Dave Ramsey’s videos on YouTube when she was in college at New York University, before TikTok became the go-to platform. (He has more than 500,000 subscribers on YouTube.)

“Not knowing about money feels scary, especially when you’re a young adult and have to pay your bills,” she says. “You wonder, ‘Should I go on a trip or invest in the S&P 500?’ I’m just looking for the right answers.”

Israel, who now at age 23 works for a company that develops finance curricula for schools, says she was initially drawn in by Ramsey’s no-nonsense advice. He recommends setting aside some money for emergencies. She did.

But eventually, some of his messages triggered a different response from her: “Wait, what?”

When she saw a comment from Ramsey online about how people receiving pandemic stimulus payments were “ pretty much screwed already ,” Israel felt it came across as shaming people. The pandemic shutdowns ended a decadelong economic expansion for Black Americans , a disproportionate number of whom lost their jobs and relied on those checks.

“Moralising financial decisions is very damaging to marginalised groups,” says Israel, who is Black.

From bankruptcy to broadcasting

Ramsey’s anti-debt evangelism arose from personal circumstances. He says on his website that he took on too much debt while accumulating real estate as a young man. He also bought a Jaguar, jewellery for his wife and a trip to Hawaii. In 1988, he filed for bankruptcy.

How did rich people stay rich? By not paying interest to banks, he concluded.

He started a radio show in 1992 to answer callers’ money questions. It became the top-rated show in Nashville, Tenn., and eventually became a nationally syndicated call-in program with about 20 million weekly listeners.

The radio program begot Ramsey Solutions, a 1,000-person company that encompasses a podcast, 23 money-management books, a budgeting app and personal-financial coaching. Dozens of Facebook groups are devoted to following his methods. Ramsey’s net worth is estimated at more than $200 million.

No credit scores?

Many young adults scratch their heads over his advice that people should let their credit scores dwindle and die .

People need a good credit score, says Mandy Phillips, a 39-year-old residential mortgage loan originator in Redding, Calif. She uses TikTok and other social media to educate millennials and Gen Z about home buying. Scores are vital when applying for mortgages and rentals.

She also takes issue with Ramsey’s advice to only obtain a home loan if you can take out a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage with a down payment of at least 10%. Few younger buyers can pay the large monthly bills of shorter-term mortgages.

“That may have worked years ago in the ’80s and ’90s, but that’s not something that is achievable for the average American,” Phillips says.

Ramsey acknowledges on his website that his views aren’t always in step with conventional economic thinking. “I have an unusual way of looking at the world,” he notes, nodding to his past debt troubles.

Housing is a particularly hot-button topic. He advises people to only buy a house with their lawfully wedded spouse. Yet many young adults are pooling their finances with partners, friends or roommates to buy their first homes.

The debt snowball

Ramsey is perhaps best known for advocating a “ debt snowball method ”: People with multiple loans pay off the smallest balances first, regardless of interest rate. As you knock out each loan, he says, the money you have to put toward larger debt snowballs. Seeing small wins motivates people to keep going, he says.

Conventional economic theory would be to pay off the highest-interest loans first, says James Choi, a finance professor at the Yale School of Management, who has studied the advice of popular finance gurus.

“What Dave Ramsey would say is, ‘I don’t care if paying down the highest-interest debt first is cheapest, because if you give up midway through, that’s more expensive.’ I think the jury is out on that,” Choi says.

Ramsey’s advice has helped a lot of people reduce their spending.

A University of Copenhagen researcher conducted a study that found that when Ramsey’s radio show entered new markets between 2004 and 2019, households in those cities decreased their monthly expenditures by at least 5.4%.

Embracing debt

Ramsey’s save-not-spend message sounds logical, young adults say. It’s his all-or-nothing approach that doesn’t work for them.

Kate Hindman, a 31-year-old administrative assistant in Pasadena, Calif., who has taken an anti-Ramsey stance on TikTok, ended up with $30,000 in credit-card debt after she and her husband faced income-reducing job changes. They’ve since turned it into a consolidation loan with an 8% interest rate and pay about $1,200 a month.

She wonders if the debt aversion is generational. Perhaps younger people are less willing to make huge sacrifices to be debt-free. Maybe carrying some amount of debt forever is a new normal. Hindman’s video about her credit-card debt journey—and how it doesn’t align with Ramsey’s perspective—has more than 745,000 views.

Hindman said in the TikTok video: “I’m sorry, I’m not willing to do anything to get out of debt. I’m not willing to eat rice and beans every day.”



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Some chocolatiers and coffee makers say they will have to pass on the extra cost to consumers

By JOSEPH HOPPE
Sun, Apr 14, 2024 4 min

Global prices for cocoa and coffee are surging as severe weather events hamper production in key regions, raising questions from farm to table over the long-term damage climate change could have on soft commodities.

Cultivating cocoa and coffee requires very specific temperature, water and soil conditions. Now, more frequent heat waves, heavy rainfalls and droughts are damaging harvests and crippling supplies amid ever growing demand from customers worldwide.

“Adverse weather conditions, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, have played an important role in sending several food commodities sharply higher,” said Ole Hansen , head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

The spikes in prices are a threat to coffee and chocolate makers across the globe.

Swiss consumer-goods giant Nestlé was able to pass only a fraction of the cocoa price increase to customers last year, and it may need to adjust pricing in the future due to persistently high prices, a spokesperson said.

Italian coffee maker Lavazza reported revenue of more than $3 billion for last year, but said profitability was hit by soaring coffee bean prices, particularly for green and Robusta coffee, and its decision to limit price increases.

Likewise, chocolatier Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Spruengli said in its 2023 results that weather and climate conditions played a major role in the global shortage of cocoa beans that led to historically high prices. The company had to lift the sales prices of its products and said it would need to further raise them this year and next if cocoa prices remain at current levels.

Hershey ’s chief executive, Michele Buck , said in February that historic cocoa prices are expected to limit earnings growth this year, and that the company plans to use “every tool in its toolbox,” including price hikes, to manage the impact on business.

In West Africa, where about 70% of global cocoa is produced, powerhouses Ivory Coast and Ghana are facing catastrophic harvests this season as El Niño—the pattern of above-average sea surface temperatures—led to unseasonal heavy rainfalls followed by strong heat waves.

Extreme heat has weakened cocoa trees already damaged from heavy rainfall at the end of last year, according to Morningstar DBRS’s Aarti Magan and Moritz Steinbauer. The rain also worsened road conditions, disrupting cocoa bean deliveries to export ports.

The International Cocoa Organization—a global body composed of cocoa producing and consuming member countries—said in its latest monthly report that it expects the global supply deficit to widen to 374,000 metric tons in the 2023-24 season, from 74,000 tons last season. Global cocoa supply is anticipated to decline by almost 11% to 4.449 million tons when compared with 2022-23.

“Significant declines in production are expected from the top producing countries as they are envisaged to feel the detrimental effect of unfavourable weather conditions and diseases,” the organisation said.

While the effects of climate change are severe, other serious structural issues are also hitting West African cocoa production in the short- to medium-term. Illegal mining poses a significant threat to cocoa farms in Ghana, destroying arable land and poisoning water supplies, and the problem is becoming increasingly relevant in the Ivory Coast, according to BMI.

The issues are being magnified by deforestation carried out to increase cocoa production. Since 1950, Ivory Coast has lost around 90% of its forests, while Ghana has lost around 65% over the same period. This has driven farmers to areas less suited to cocoa cultivation like grasslands, increasing the amount of labor required and bringing further downside risks to the harvest, the research firm said.

The Ivory Coast’s cocoa mid-crop harvest—which officially starts in April and runs until September—is expected to fall to 400,000-500,000 tons from 600,000-620,000 tons last year, with weather expected to play a crucial role in shaping the market balance for the season, ING analysts said, citing estimates from the country’s cocoa regulator. Ghana’s cocoa board also forecasts a slump in the harvest for this season to as low as 422,500 tons, the poorest in more than 20 years, according to BMI.

Neither regulator responded to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, extreme droughts in Southeast Asia—particularly in Vietnam and Indonesia—are resulting in lower coffee bean harvests, hurting producers’ output and global exports. Coffee inventories have recovered somewhat in recent weeks but remain low in recent historical terms. Robusta coffee has seen a severe deterioration in export expectations, while Arabica coffee is expected to return to a relatively narrow surplus this year, said Charles Hart, senior commodities analyst at BMI.

The global coffee benchmark prices, London Robusta futures, are up by 15% on-month to $3,825 a ton. Arabica coffee prices have also surged 17% over the last month to $2.16 a pound in lockstep with Robusta—its highest level since October 2022. Cocoa prices have more than tripled on-year over these supply crunch fears, and risen 49% in the last month alone to $10,050 a ton.

“Cocoa trees are particularly sensitive to weather and require very specific conditions to grow, this means that cocoa prices are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events, such as drought and periods of intense heat, as well as the longer-term impact of climate change,” said Lucrezia Cogliati, associate commodities analyst at BMI.

Cogliati said global cocoa consumption is expected to outpace production for the third consecutive season, with intense seasonal West African winds and plant diseases contributing to significant declines.

Consumers hoping for a return to cheaper prices for life’s little luxuries in the midterm may also be in for a bitter surprise.

“There is no sugarcoating it—consumers will ultimately be faced with higher chocolate prices, products that contain less chocolate, and/or shrinking product sizes,” Morningstar’s Magan and Steinbauer said in a report.

“We anticipate consumers could respond by searching widely for promotional discounts, trading down to value-based chocolate and confectionary products from premium products, switching to private-label from branded products and/or reducing volumes altogether.”

The record-breaking rally for cocoa and coffee is likely more than just a flash in the pan, according to Citi analysts, as adverse weather conditions and strong demand trends are likely to support prices in the months ahead. The U.S. bank estimates Arabica coffee futures in a range of $1.88-$2.15 a pound for the current year, but said projections could be lifted if the outlook for 2024-25 tightens further.

At the heart of it all, climate change is set to play a major role, as the impact of extreme weather events could exacerbate the pressure on cocoa and coffee supplies, according to market watchers.

“I don’t expect prices to remain at these levels, but if we continue to see more unusual weather as a result of global warming then we certainly could see more volatility in terms of cocoa yields going forward, which could impact pricing,” said Paul Joules, commodities analyst at Rabobank.