Wednesday 17th April 2024

Can Dave Ramsey and the ‘Baby Steps’ get you out of debt and build wealth?

Dave Ramsey has become a household name in the US, and is now making a name for himself here in the UK. Truth be told, he is a man a bit like marmite – you either love him or hate him.  

But one thing is for sure, the baby steps he developed to help people get out and stay out of debt have helped millions of people across the globe secure a brighter financial future. 

So let’s take a look at what these baby steps suggest as the roadmap to a financially peaceful life. 

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Baby Step 1 – Save £1,000 for your starter emergency fund 

The goal of this step is to have something to fall back on before starting the journey, and to try to avoid going further into debt if an emergency crops up. £1,000 may not cover all levels of emergencies, but it probably would cover most types of emergencies. 

Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt (except the house) using the debt snowball 

The debt snowball method requires you to list out all of your debts, from the smallest amount to the largest amount (not taking into account the interest rate on the debt), and pay off the smallest debt first and work your way up to the largest one.  

This is one of those controversial steps as it makes more financial sense to pay off high-interest debt first. However, Dave Ramsey argues that by paying off the smallest debts first, you’re more likely to stay motivated to tackle all your debt. 

Baby Step 3 – Save 3–6 months of expenses in a fully funded emergency fund 

At this point you should still have the £1,000 in your starter emergency fund, and now you would work to top it up to cover 3-6 months’ worth of all your expenses. This means you will need to sit down to actually calculate how much money it takes for you to live month-to-month. This is one of the many reasons a budget is useful.  

Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of your household income in retirement 

Dave Ramsey suggests to not invest until you’ve reached step 4. At this point, 15% of your household income would be suggested to go towards a retirement account. In the US, this would be a Roth IRA or 401k. In the UK, this would be some form of employer pension or self-invested personal pension (SIPP).  

Baby Step 5 – Save for your children’s college fund 

This step is somewhat Americanised as the university loan system is far different in the US than the UK. However, this step could just be considered as savings for your child/children’s future in any capacity you see fit. Of course, if you don’t have children, you would skip straight to step 6. 

Baby Step 6 – Pay off your home early 

This is the last and final debt to tackle on this baby step journey. I think it goes without saying that most people don’t expect to pay their homes off any quicker than the standard 25-30 year mortgage term. However, Dave Ramsey is a big advocate of getting all debt cleared once and for all to completely free up your income. 

Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give 

Reaching this final step would mean you would be absolutely debt-free! The financial focus would be whatever your heart desires. As Dave Ramsey is quoted to say “if you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”  

Photo Credits: Unsplash

Finance Dee

Mouthy Blogger

Finance Dee is a British-Jamaican living in the SE of England. By day she's a research consultant and by night a finance YouTuber and FIRE blogger

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