By Rabbi B.
After being tens of thousands in debt and almost fully maxed out on my credit cards, I was forced to reconsider my financial dysfunction that was stealing my sleep at night.
My wife did some online research and purchased a book called “The Total Money Makeover” by radio host and author Dave Ramsey.
Being forced by circumstance to crack open the book and read, I feared my life evolving into a joyless ride of material curtailment. To my surprise, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of hope. Optimism returned and replaced that cloud of fear that had encompassed me.
To be in a position to win financially, one must be deliberate. You can’t rely on faith alone and expect G-d to do the work.
The Torah (m’lashon horaah) teaches us through Pharaoh’s dreams to be financially deliberate to accumulate emergency assets in times of prosperity. The necessity of stockpiling a safety net + reserves is so much greater when you’re barely getting by. Nobody is going to provide that for you but yourself, or at the very least, not with dignity.
In a nutshell, Ramsey’s book delves into his concise philosophy (with lots of interspersed nuggets of inspiration for positive reinforcement) for crawling out of gloom and eventually retiring as an affluent winner by executing this Seven Step program:
Baby Step 1: $1,000 cash in a beginner emergency fund
Baby Step 2: Use the debt snowball to pay off all your debt but the house
Baby Step 3: A fully funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses
Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into retirement
Baby Step 5: Start saving for education
Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early
Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give generously
Interestingly, maintaining “tithe” (maaser) throughout the seven steps is part of the program.
Thank G-d, we’ve succeeded in shedding our entire debt through denying gratification and lots of hard work.
I have no question that this method would be of immense benefit to the multitudes and untold amounts of families who quietly suffer and probably tell themselves it’s normal, and the way most live. I certainly hope it’s not! Be deliberate and crawl out.
Ramsey’s battle cry is, if you wish to live like nobody else, you must first live like nobody else. Spending your way to prosperity almost never works. Debt accumulation does not pay off—hard work does! You could live the life you’ve always wanted if you are willing to rethink your modus operandi.
May we all have an abundance of gezunt, parnosso and Yiddishe – Chassidishe – nachas.
Note: Mr. Ramsey, the architect of the above personal finance method, adheres to a religion not shared by us, so please exercise discretion while listening to him and reading his books to sort his beneficial finance advice from his personal religious theologies.