A while back, my wife and I took a Dave Ramsey personal finance course. If you don’t know Dave Ramsey, he’s a personal finance guru with a national radio show, heavy online presence, and nationwide seminars. I was resistant about taking the course at first, because I always resist my wife’s good ideas initially. She knows she’s always right, and I know she’s always right. God forbid though she knows that I know she’s always right. After some hemming and hawing on my part (mostly hemming, because I’m not great at hawing) I agreed. I actually folded like a cheap suit the second she said they may serve cookies.
We signed up and attended the six week course. It had quite a bit of good information. Some of the tips were new to us, some were not. The most sinister part though of the entire Dave Ramsey course related to monthly budgeting. Any personal finance course worth its salt will encourage you to budget your monthly income and expenses. This was not just the handy budgeting worksheet of your average personal finance course. Heir Ramsey took it to another level.
The course materials consist mostly of workbooks and dvd’s. These resources are chock-full of Dave’s sage advice and folksy finance wisdom. But wait! There’s more! Also included in the price of the course is a large, powder blue, awkwardly puffy wallet-type thing for monthly budgeting. It’s about the length of a checkbook (as if anyone still knows what a checkbook looks like.) It’s about as thick as six Hershey bars stuck together (don’t ask why I know the thickness of six Hershey bars.)
Inside wallet-zilla is a series of paper envelopes that are intended to hold cash. The envelopes have labels on them so you know what monthly essential budget category each one holds. i.e. Groceries, Entertainment, Gasoline, Ferret Food, Twizzlers, etc. In theory, this is a good way to keep track of your monthly expenses and make adjustments to that end. In reality, it is a way for Dave Ramsey to satisfy some sick sadistic (though folksy) desire to embarrass and shame men like myself.
I’ll illustrate my point about Dave Ramsey and his sadistic streak using a recent trip to the grocery store. I was shopping by myself because my wife was home either making a stew, or watching Real Housewives of Boise. Either way, I was doing the week’s shopping. First of all, I had to walk around the entire time with this giant bulge in my side pocket. For some reason, the check-book sized wallet had to have the same amount of padding as a linebacker to protect the paper envelopes inside. This uneven bulge in my pocket made me self-conscious. Since I’m already a little “hippy” to begin with, the wallet made me even wider. Once I actually made it to the cashier, the real hijinks began.
“That’ll be $121.14” the cashier said. I looked to my right. Directly behind me were two construction workers getting some cold drinks on their way home from work. Behind them was a 20 something hipster guy getting hair gel and Trojans. Finally, behind him was a likely Vietnam vet wearing a leather biker jacket.Perfect. Just the audience I wasn’t hoping for. I began to pull the wallet out of my side pocket. “clink clink clank” went all of the change that had been in the same pocket, jammed up against the side of the wallet. “Sorry!” I said as I tried to pick up the coins as quick as possible. Now even people in the next row over were looking at me as I scrambled around the floor for the change. There is NO WAY Dave Ramsey uses this damn thing at the grocery store.
“$121.14” Velma stated again as she became impatient with my nonsense. “OK. Sure.” I replied as I opened my giant puffy blue wallet/lady-bag. I was so flustered that I started looking at the wrong envelope and had to scroll through each one reading the label as I moved on to the next. “Groceries! Groceries! Where the F#$@ is the grocery envelope?” I thought to myself.
Eventually I got to the grocery envelope and grabbed about half of the stack of 20 dollar bills that were inside. As fate would have it, the other half of the stack just happened to stick to my hand on its way out of the envelope. They flew out like little green doves, landing all over the floor where the change had just been. “F#$@ you Dave Ramsey!” I thought as I scurried around the floor for the twenties.
Now I was holding enough money for a month’s worth of groceries, crumpled up in my filthy hands like an allergic dork holding a pile of snot rags. I could feel the other men in line laughing at me. Did I say feel? I meant hear, see, and smell. These bastards had no sense of decency for their fellow “man.” So I counted all of the cash and put it in her hand. She gave me my change, which I crammed into the paper envelope, splitting it down the sides.
The wallet was now twice as big as when I started and took even more torque to shove it back into my side pocket. I waddled out of the store with a giant bulge sticking out of my left leg that looked like some type of malignant tumor. Throwing the bags into the back of the car, I slinked into the driver seat while the laughter from inside reached a roar. I made it back home and told my wife the entire ordeal, expecting some sympathy, or maybe a hug. I got even more laughter than I had endured from total strangers.
This was all Dave Ramsey’s fault. He has taken my dignity and my sense of masculinity.I will never forgive him for irreparable damage he has done to my reputation, and my insecurity about my wide hips. I hope it was worth it, Dave.On the other hand, the budgeting has worked wonders for our bottom line every month. My wife and I seem to argue less about money, and have more left at the end of the month for spending on whatever we desire. Come to think of it, my life has been so much better ever since we started using those god-forsaken envelopes. I guess I can probably just buy more dignity and masculinity. Seems like I owe you some gratitude Dave Ramsey (you folksy sadistic brilliant bastard.)
If you’d like to read another post about me struggling with personal finance, read The Only Roth IRA Article You’ll Ever Need.