When my wife and I moved to Nashville, Tn a few years ago we had nothing but some debt, a few barely marketable skills and a toddler. We weren’t sure now the new life we were living together and the new value system that we were trying to implement married the idea of money to our daily lives. I am a sucker for talk radio, and shortly after we moved I began to listen to the Dave Ramsey show, which is hugely popular in Nashville since it is the home of the show and the host. We bit at the bait and my wife and I became fanatics, we sold stuff. we worked hard. We built an emergency fund and haven’t used a credit card since. it is amazing how fast you can climb out of a hole once you STOP DIGGING. We also met some friends and began a conversation about simplifying our life. We decided that it was just as much a burden to us to keep moving all of our stuff as it was to keep hauling around the debt we had accrued. Once we got rid of our stuff and most of our debt, we realized that we liked spending time together as a family, and that our faith grew stronger the more we practiced it together.
That’s when the disparity of our values and the Dave Ramsey message began to drift. Dave does nothing to challenge the virus of consumerism in our culture. He only suggests that you buy you stuff with cash. Valuable advice, given that America is a country out of control with debt. But, we are out of control with stuff, too. It is the essence of self indulgence to believe that we are somehow entitled to a lifestyle that caters to our every whim. We spend so much money on junk food that it tokes just as much spending on diet programs to combat our country’s obesity. We drive tanks for vehicles that cost us a third of our income and wonder why wars are fought over oil. Jesus rode, in all his glory, on a donkey. I see fish emblems and Jesus bumper stickers on Saabs and Audis. In a road trip with my cousin a few weeks ago I saw a shiny black 1 ton Dodge Ram pickup in the parking lot of a Taco Bell with a church logo on the door. It was the pastor’s truck.
I still follow the advice of Dave Ramsey. We are done with debt. We will never borrow any money for anything again, and if we choose to buy a house with borrowed money, that money will be paid back in full in as short a time as we can possibly manage. We will also choose naps together whenever the opportunity presents itself, even if it conflicts with the opportunity to make money. Our house will be small, and relatively empty. Our cars will be small, old, and paid for. Our sleeper couch will be with us as long as it remains in one piece. Our goal for our grocery budget is $120 a month, and we come pretty close. The Goodwill is our Target, and I haven’t been inside a Wal-Mart in over two years.
I am glad that we had the opportunity to take advantage of Dave’s plan. I am just as glad that there were others on our journey that challenged us further, and I believe I know a little more today of what it means to own the consequences of my faith. Shouldn’t we challenge ourselves, if we claim to follow Jesus. to make our lives look a little more like his today than they did yesterday?
See: Dave Ramsey Provokes