Any experience with Dave Ramsey's financial counselors?

I’m trying to get a grip on my finances and debt, and have been considering various alternatives. Years ago when I went to Consumer Credit Counseling services, they couldn’t help me because I didn’t make enough money at the time to pay anything back, and the sum total of their advice was to tell me to tell my husband (who had recently left me) to stop being an idiot and move back home to take care of his family. That didn’t happen.

Now I’ve been listening to The Dave Ramsey show, and am reading his Total Money Makeover book, and I really like his philosophy. I’m considering making an appointment with one of his local affliated counselors, but I thought I’d ask the most informed group in the world…you all…for your opinion. Has anyone here done his program, or used one of his counselors? Was it a good experience? How much do they charge for the initial sessions? In your opinion is this a good program to follow?

I’m trying to avoid declaring bankruptcy. I’ve tried to get a loan through that would clear up the worst, immediate problems and allow me to pay back people while still eating and driving my car, but I’ve had no luck so far. I really could use some input, but I don’t want to get taken advantage of, and would like to meet with someone in person…and Consumer Credit Counseling seems to be doing everything online.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this guy. I looked, briefly, at his web site and the counseling offer I think you’re referring to, I see that they’re offering a “free” “Financial Peace University Member Kit” w/ the session. Looking on the “store” page of the site. that kit is listed at $139.00 (marked down from $244.00). Based on that, I’d guess that a personal counseling session is probably going to cost several hundred dollars.
Do you know the cost of the personal counseling? How long is the session?
This guy may give solid advice, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s doing this to make money, nothing inherently wrong w/ that, if you can afford it and the advice is worth what he charges. Since your finances are already tight, it seems counter productive to spend very much on financial advice.
I’d suggest you educate yourself on basic money management and I think the best place to do that is at your local library. There are tons of books on the subject, but it shouldn’t take a reasonably intelligent person very long to determine which are helpful and which are BS.
There are only so many things you can do when you’re in debt. The basic strategy is to increase income, while decreasing spending. To do that you have to make some tough choices, giving up things, often things that you really don’t want to forgo, or even think you must have, getting a second job, selling assets, car, jewelry, house. If you’re way beyond that, in debt more that 2 to 3 times your annual income, and behind on payments, it may be time to consider bakruptcy. If you’re hoping that this counselour will come up w/ some revelation that’s going to solve your problems in a very short time, then I’d bet you’re in for a disappointment.

You don’t have to go to a counselor.

We’re currently doing his Total Money Makeover. I got one of his books at the library and we’re chugging along. We’ve got two credit cards paid off, I’ll have the bill at the dentist paid off probably next check, and we’re chopping away at the Lowe’s bill right now.

Step 1) $1000 emergency fund. Have a garage sale, get a second job, whatever, but get that $1000 as quick as you can into a savings account. If you have to dip into the emergency fund (emergency, such as car repairs, not a long weekend vacation) then you stop Step 2 and get your emergency fund back to $1000.

Step 2) Organize your debts, smallest to largest, and start paying them off in order of smallest to largest. It doesn’t matter about interest rates, what matters is the psychological YES! you get when you pay off a bill. You make minimum payments on everything else, but put chunks toward the one you’re paying off. It’s called the Debt Snowball, the theory being once you get a bill paid off, you can put the money you were paying on that one to the next biggest bill. Do this until everything is paid off until your mortgage.

Step 3) Add to the emergency fund until you have 3-6 months worth of expenses saved. Since your bills are gone, this will be fairly easy.

Step 4) 15% (do not include employer contribution) into retirement savings. This can vary depending on how much debt you have. Some people can afford to take 18-24 months off from investing to do Step 2, some can’t. It depends on how much you already have invested.

Step 5) Fund the kids’ college education.

Step 6) Get the mortgage paid off

Step 7) Keep building your nest egg.

I cut my 401k contribution to the lowest I can have it and still have my employer match it, we’ve stopped using credit cards and are paying cash for everything. As soon as Step 2 is done I’ll put my 401k contribution back to where it was. We have our rental property on the market, and as soon as that sells we will be able to pay off all of the credit cards and put a big chunk against one of our loans.

My point is, you don’t have to pay a counselor. Get the book and read it yourself. E-mail me or PM me if you’d like more info.

We’re doing the same thing. I figured he’d be proud I was so prudent with my money as to check it out of the library instead of buying it. LOL!

We had been on Step 2 for a while when we needed our emergency fund. So we’re back to Step 1. After next paycheck, we’ll be back on Step 2. We have a projected completion date for Step 2 of Spring 2010. That includes paying off our home equity loan of $20k.

It is really great to feel in control of my money instead of the other way around. We’re not suffering or feeling deprived.

Neither are we. I found the book very inspirational (if a bit heavy on the Christianity at some points) and it’s very empowering to know we’re not continuing to incur debt. We paid off the first two credit cards in about six weeks (granted, they were both under $1000, but still…YES!)

This week I had to dip into the emergency fund. I might have to take a vacation from paying Lowe’s but I should have the emergency fund back up to $1000 and pay off my dentist bill next payday.

Thanks for the input. I borrowed the book from the library, too…have to renew it, though! and am starting to set up the steps. I’m really only in debt about 1/4 to 1/2 of my annual income, have no credit cards, and currently working two jobs, so I shouldn’t need too long to get squared away, if I can just get to the point where no one else is spending my money…long story.

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I didn’t know if going and talking to a counselor would help me get organized more…I suppose if I had huge debts and complicated things, it would be worth it. But we’re talking pretty small stuff in the grand scheme of things…way, way less than $10,000 total. I’d just like to be able to convince some of my creditors to take less penalties…the actual amounts of the actual bills are relatively small…it’s the interest and penalties that are pushing everything up into the hard-to-do range.

Hell, that ain’t nothin’. You can get hold of that in no time. I don’t understand someone else spending your money, but you’ve gotta’ do whatever it takes to put a stop to that. Have faith in yourself and your abilities, you can put this behind you. Good luck.

Missed your second post. It’s 90% that you can get the first late charge reversed w/ a phone call. Second one takes some wheedling, but still a 50/50 chance. Most of these people will work w/ you, but you may have to insist on speaking to a supervisor. The process seems humiliating, but it’s much, much better than ignoring them. Pay something and keep objecting to the late charges, that way it’s very unlikely they will put the debt into collections. Squeeze every penny, live close to the bone and you’ll get back to even before you know it.

Whuh? Who is spending your money?

My son has just moved back in with me after losing his job and spending a brief time in jail. While he was in jail, his roommate left town (this was known about in advance, but my son was trying to find another roommate) so I had to help clean out his apartment, pay off his bills and get his stuff into my storage unit. He got released from jail over a month ahead of schedule, and I wasn’t prepared to start feeding another person yet. As soon as he secures another job, he will be able to move out again, but for now he’s here with me…and no income. They didn’t even get the cleaning deposit back from the apartment…and we cleaned that place!

So, hopefully, this is just a bump in the road and not a detour that will take you years before you get back on the highway?

I hope your son pays you back for getting him out of a jam.

I’ve been on this detour since before my divorce…I want the road to improve!

Well, not to hijack the thread, but give your son a time frame to get a job and get out, say 30 to 60 days. If he’s an adult, it’s time he stands on his own two feet and accepts the consequences for his actions.