Budget Culture and the Dave Ramseyfication of Money - Deepstash
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The rise of financial advice

The rise of financial advice

Before Ramsey’s call-in talk show, financial advice was mainly for people who were already wealthy. It assumed people with credit card debt who lived from paycheck to paycheck didn’t care about financial education.

Ramsey began speaking to a handpicked group of people that traditional advice ignored. He regularly backed up his financial advice with Bible verses, erecting a clear fence around his target audience.


48 reads

Conditioned to pursue wealth

Dave Ramsey's show encouraged people who'd been conditioned not to pursue wealth to now indulge in the fantasy of being rich. A perpetual brief is that a better life is within your grasp if you can manage your money right.

Other budding financial experts dropped Ramsey's religious exclusivity, and a niche in personal finance emerged in the early 2000s. 

Ramsey and his successors put the "personal" into finance so anyone could find success through a new set of rules, like paying your debt, starting a side hustle and making a budget.


25 reads

The budget culture

The budget culture

The budget culture is the damaging set of beliefs around money that rewards restriction and deprivation and promotes an unhealthy and fantastical ideal of financial success.

Budget culture sees measures like credit scores and debt as signifiers of financial health and prescribes spending restrictions as the first step to getting rich.

However, the problem is that budgeting doesn't work. Restriction and deprivation are unsustainable. Tracking spending is hard. Budgets don't account for the way lives work.


19 reads

The broader problem with budget culture

The emphasis of budget culture is on individual responsibility and insisting that you can ignore access and privilege in our world. It condemns and oppresses anyone who doesn't live up to the ideal.

  • However, the system isn’t designed for upward mobility. Ramsey’s famous “Baby Steps” might start simple and practical but they quickly escalate into investing 15% of your income, paying off your mortgage early and building generational wealth.
  • The budget culture has one secret to getting rich quickly: Aggressive investing. However, the only sure way to make money is to have money.


23 reads

Countering budget culture is a tall order

It needs:

  • Getting comfortable not knowing the “right” answers.
  • Changing how you talk about money and how you use money.
  • Pay transparency — with your friends, communities and colleagues, and in job descriptions.
  • Seeing and acknowledging your privilege.
  • Rethinking how we compensate for all labour.
  • Framing taxes as sharing privilege, not impeding personal wealth.
  • Admitting net worth is an imaginary number.
  • Creatively supporting people with financial needs and protecting them from the tyranny of credit reports.
  • Reckoning with the fact that the dream of homeownership relies on hoarding stolen wealth.


18 reads

Budget culture makes money all about you

Budget culture makes money all about you

It's about your actions, responsibilities and mindset, yet no management method can fix rising housing costs with stagnant wages.

Instead of questioning your mindset and willpower to fix your money, question what's happening around you. Do you feel comfortable and safe in your home, in your clothing, or using your devices? Do you feel empowered with choice? Can you care for loved ones?

Having money can improve life, but that's not the point. Fighting budget culture means remaking the world in a way that lets everyone experience the ease of being "rich" regardless of the numbers.


19 reads



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