Does Dave Ramsey Want Me to Retire Early

If you have not heard who Dave Ramsey is and are part of the personal finance world you just might be living under a rock.  The man is a saint to millions who have scraped and clawed their way out of debt to make the debt free scream heard around the world, or at least to those listening on the radio and podcast that day.  Dave Ramsey preaches to never go in debt for any reason(he has some flexibility with a mortgage) and pay cash for everything, even the theme song of his show says “where debt is dumb and cash is king” how is that for a message to engrave in your mind.  For those living under that rock or those not reading every personal finance article and podcast I can get my hands on, Dave Ramsey has a template of sorts to walk you right through your financial life in what he calls the Baby Steps.  Here is a look at his plan. I’m not here to argue any of the points made by Mr. Ramsey, I’m just here to find the answer to a simple question.  Does Dave Ramsey want me to retire early?




To answer the question I did what any red blooded American would do and went to Google for answers.  OK, let’s try “Dave Ramsey retire early” that should get the ball rolling.  I’m not going to go through the 170,000 results that came up, but I am going to dive in and see what’s out there.

First off let me say I have never heard Dave Ramsey mention early retirement in a positive light, I have heard callers mention the thought of retiring early and Mr. Ramsey goes into dramatic theater performance asking “What are you going to do with your life if you are not working”? As if once the 9-5 job is stopped life ceases to exist.  He’s definitely hard on those who mention it, so I’m not expecting great results in my search.

Well I’ll be wrapped in bacon, I found one,

The name of the article is Can You Retire 10 years Early?  I’m getting excited over here, let me start writing my Dear Dave fan mail thanking him for the early retirement plug, I can’t wait till this goes mainstream!  Tongue in cheek I think is the correct term on what that sentence was all about, maybe sarcasm might be better, I’m just a 9-5 finance guy, not sure if I nailed that one.

In the article they use a hypothetical guy name Joe, which is the picture of the every day common man or the average Joe.  In the example Joe has made 50K each year in salary his entire life starting at 25 (most likely for simple calculations) and will make that same amount his entire life.  Joe is investing 15% of his money or $625 per month through all 40 years until he hits retirement age at 65, which will put Joe with a 8% return at 2 million dollars and at a 12% return at 6 million dollars, based on Joe’s 50K salary and the first time I have ever seen Dave Ramsey mention the common 4% rule, that will give Joe $80,000 based off of a 12% return, an even higher salary than he currently has in place.  Life is easy when you make 12% on your money, but I’m happy to see Mr. Ramsey dial it back a notch, but he did fail to mention that even for 30 years at 8% return Joe will have $900,000 or a 4% withdrawal rate of $36,000 if you plan to retire 10 years earlier.  I’m not here to argue about the return on your investment, I’m here to figure out if Dave Ramsey has given his blessing to The Money Mine, Frugalwoods, 1500 Days, Done by Forty, and Even Steven Money to retire early!

The article itself does not say specifically to retire early, instead it asks Joe to make a choice, more money or early retirement.  In most cases when the personal finance community talks about early retirement we tend to lean towards an extreme early retirement of 30-45 years of age.  Dave Ramsey will not be endorsing Even Steven Money on his Early Retirement Adventure to retire before 40, he will look at the results and I’m sure be very pleased, but his baby steps don’t lead towards early retirement in a way the Even Steven Money Early Retirement Baby Steps™ do, in my humble Midwest opinion.


7 Baby Steps, Except Picture a T-Rex Doing the Steps!

  1. Pay off all Personal Debt-Snowball, Avalanche, Mr. Freeze, I don’t care how it gets done, just do it.  Oh yeah Debt Tornado!
  2. Have a Catalyst Investment-Stocks, Bonds, Real Estate, Peer to Peer Lending, Small Business, once again which ever one is your preference
  3. Create a Secondary Investment Income Stream-Choose one from above and invest.
  4. Have Tax Deferred Accounts for Retirement Age-This is seen as a bonus account, for example if you retire at 40, most calculations are based on 25 years of retirement, this is the bonus account or the chocolate on your ice cream.
  5. Have an Emergency Fund That Fits Your Comfort Level-3 months, 6 months, 1 year, just make it acts like the ocean waves and helps you sleep well at night
  6. Retire Early-Psychologically hard for some to do, but it’s the next step once your investment income or 4% withdrawal rate is greater than your expenses and you have that emergency fund tucking you in at night, you are there my good man or woman, YOU DID IT!
  7. Enjoy your Life and Give to Others!

Dave Ramsey says to think about taking retirement 10 years early, well like many of you out there I want more, shooting for 27 years! It’s funny in the article the question is asked is it worth more than a million dollars to retire 10 years early?  Looking at it only down that specific lens I would want 10 years of my life to enjoy and experience the freedom rather than 1 million dollars, especially when in the scenario the nest egg is 2.9 million dollars sitting comfortably next to you.  If you have made great investments along the way and built yourself up to a point of early retirement the question becomes “When is Enough”?  Should I work 10 years or 12 years because my money would grow an extra $200,000 and as you get closer to financial independence, that’s the decision you are making, I’m looking straight at you Mr. 1500 Days in this special call out edition on your upcoming decision.

Those who have put themselves on a path to financial independence have made a plan to make “Enough” because if they kept on the same savings track they really could become multi-millionaires and each individual has made a decision that Freedom is more important than Money at that point.  Deciding to buy a Toyota Camry is enough for them, rather than buying a Range Rover, the difference financially can be mind blowing, but it’s a simple choice of freedom over possessions.  We in the Even Steven household have decided that we do not need 2 vehicles and are perfectly fine with one and taking the train and bus to work.  The vehicle is paid for and fits the 10% car rule for those looking to reach financial independence, but it’s a decision we made in the pursuit of Freedom, not material possessions.

In conclusion, Dave Ramsey has not sent me his blessing to purse early retirement via Twitter or Facebook in fact there is a very good chance the man does not know I exist.  It does turn out that he knows that many of us will come to a point in our lives where we ask ourselves to choose more Money or more Freedom.  Those on the path to financial independence, all 27 of us and growing have made that choice already and will continue to strive to reach our financial dreams and the pursuit of happiness and freedom from a cubicle, desk job, or whatever environment is taking you away from your version of Freedom.  Dave Ramsey and society may not believe extreme early retirement is possible or have a website like Even Steven Money dedicated to the journey, but either way I wish you the best of luck on your path to financial independence, I know you have my approval to retire early.



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35 Responses to “Does Dave Ramsey Want Me to Retire Early

  • I give you my blessing to retire early buddy 🙂
    Fervent Finance recently posted…The Cost of an EducationMy Profile

    • I second the blessing! I don’t think this type of thinking is on too many people’s radar.

      • EvenStevenMoney
        2 years ago

        Yeah sometimes I get caught up in my own little section of financial independence and early retirement and wonder why everyone wouldn’t want to do the same.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      That’s nice of you, haha!

  • Wanting to achieve financial independence is such an internal thing for people. If you are going to make the type of commitment needed, you have to be able to have thick skin to avoid the sorts of opinions out there against the idea. The idea of not having to work until you are 65-70 is so foreign to people, it is almost hard to actually explain it is possible! I’m glad we don’t need anyone’s blessing to do it 🙂
    Thias @It Pays Dividends recently posted…3 Simple Changes to Start Saving MoreMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Very true probably don’t need a blessing for early retirement, I think some of me wants it to be main stream, but who knows if it was I would probably like it less.

  • Who cares what Dave thinks? He’s great for average joe, looking to stop living paycheck to paycheck and get out of debt. He’s certainly not the patron saint of early retirement or 50%+ savings rates and side hustles.

    I believe our real patron saint, MMM, would happily endorse you.
    Adam @ recently posted…Book Review: Mastermind Dinners by Jayson GaignardMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Adam that’s a fabulous point, Dave Ramsey gets you to a certain point and it’s time to break off from following the crowd.

      50%+ savings and good old MMM are much more in line with my financial goals.

  • The great thing about working towards Financial Independence is that it is about the FREEDOM to do what you want.
    Maybe Mr Ramsey is concerned that his readership would lose interest in his blog if they would one day retire 🙂
    TheMoneyMine recently posted…4 articles that made me smarter this monthMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Haha you just might be right, if everyone retires how are they supposed to buy his books and take his classes, everything is already accomplished.

  • Thanks for calling me out! I need the encouragement! Can’t wait to discuss it more at FinCon.

    I’ll bet Mr. Ramsey would happily endorse early retirement in the form of a paid ad on his radio show! I think it’s great that he’s helped so many people, but I’m thoroughly annoyed that he’ll endorse just about anything. How can he be impartial?

    “Ladies and gentleman, let me tell you about the Even Steven Early Retirement Course. Can I hear an Even Steven Early Retirement Scream?”

    Mr. 1500 recently posted…Hermione, Holden and the Best Thing that happened to me LatelyMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      I look forward to the discussion at Fincon, beer in hand.

      There is certainly a reason the man can pay cash for everything including his multi-million dollar house, endorsement accepted.

      Oh Man best idea ever! You have no idea how much I would want to hear and do an Early Retirement Scream, I think you would be one of the first, so start practicing!!!

  • I guess the ‘mass market’ might see retiring 10 years earlier as something feasible with baby steps, which no doubt drives Dave’s strategy. The Even Steven ‘Giant T-Rex steps’ plan is perhaps just a little too hardcore for most of the mass market to fathom – but would no doubt have a far more passionate following!! For the record, the freedom is worth waaaaaay more than the extra money in my books….
    Jason @ Islands of Investing recently posted…Flight Centre – Welcome (back!) to Growth Island!My Profile

  • You know this is a great post. I have often wondered the same thing. What would happen is someone calls in and talks about ERE or just FI? I think you are right he would castigate them about what are you going to do with your life and the biblical notion “idle hands are the work of the devil” stuff. But I do like your seven FI steps. YOu should market that. In fact, copyright it, write a book and become famous. Then you can really won’t have to worry about FI.
    Jason recently posted…A Way To Get An Instant Return on Your MoneyMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Yeah I really do want to hear a call about it, anything that doesn’t specifically follow Mr. Ramsey’s plan tends to get slammed during the show, so I would expect the same.

      I need more catchy steps and I need to be angrier, once I get that done you are correct, write book and become famous. 🙂

      • YOU should call him up! Tell him you are no longer a baby, so his Baby Steps don’t apply, And really, Baby Steps? What a ridiculous name. Again, I think it’s great that he has helped so many people, but he annoys me. Clark Howard gets my ear.

        Anyway, tell him about Stevie Steps. They are for graduates of Baby Steps who wish to proceed with their education. He’d probably tell you off, but if he embraces it, you too can have a 50,000 square foot mansion!
        Mr. 1500 recently posted…Thursday Non-Rant: Sunshine Award/Garden Weasel EditionMy Profile

        • EvenStevenMoney
          2 years ago

          I need to change up my listening habits, I have one that I really like, but they don’t yell at me the same way Mr. Ramsey does.

          Stevie Steps now we are on to something. I’m not sure I would know what to do with that, any chance I can exchange it for 49,000 sq feet of beach front?

          • I never understand people who have huge mansions, but don’t live on the beach. I’d MUCH rather have a tiny shack on an ocean somewhere. I could watch the waves all day, every day for a long time.

            • EvenStevenMoney
              2 years ago

              There is talks about a Nicaraguan beach house in our future……we can add a guest house if you would like;)

  • I think the first thing to remember about Dave Ramsey, is that his emphasis is financial peace not financial independence. Once you’ve achieved financial peace, I don’t think that Dave believes that there are many relevant personal financial goals. What are you going to do with the rest of your life is a really valid question in my opinion. If your life is devoted to something selfish, you will probably find that your life is not that life giving at all.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      I like the comment with financial peace vs financial independence. I think one thing that Dave says is that you need to take care of yourself before you help others and that I certainly agree with especially as it applied to FI. Thanks Hannah.

  • Thanks for writing this. Not only are we looking to retire early, we want to do it before 40! We’ve come up with an aggressive savings plan, got rid of all debt (no mortgage or student loans yippee!) and finally got a non retirement brokerage account in place to start contributing to. Early retirement for us means that we don’t HAVE to work for money. My husband wants to coach sports and DJ and I want to continue writing and speaking. That is what early retirement will look for us. I think more people are starting to see the mathematical feasibility of this approach.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      All of this sounds amazing Aja! I have a page dedicated exactly to the early retirement community and reaching your very own Financial Independence Day, I would love to have you included, check it out it’s on the top of the page.

  • When most people talk about early retirement, they usually mean a few years before 65. Heck, a lot of people don’t even thing they can retire at 65. So I think many of us are in the minority. Baby steps for them first…T-Rex steps for those of us who have already gotten past that. I’ve mentioned early retire semi-jokingly to people and they look at me like I’m crazy.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      It’s because we are all crazy…….Or at least I am viva la early retirement!

    • Haha! Can totally relate to this…I took a mini-retirement to travel around the U.S. in an RV for a few months and when my coworkers found out I wasn’t leaving to take another job, I got so many puzzled looks.

      Now I’m waiting for the moment I can retire indefinitely (shooting for early 30’s). I’ll gladly take all the incredulity if it means I get my freedom! 🙂

  • We have a lot of respect for Dave Ramsey, and think he’s motivated a lot of people to tackle their debt. But the man is not the messiah. It’s so puzzling why not a single mainstream finance person will talk seriously about early retirement. The “but what will you do with your time?!” response is irrelevant if the question is simply, “can early retirement work?” Let us figure out to do with our time, Dave. You just tell us if you think our math is valid!
    Our Next Life recently posted…Craving the Open Road // Our Early Retirement Travel VisionMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Agreed and Agreed. Early retirement gets very little main stream media attention, it’s mostly like a freak show of some sort, look what this crazy man with 8 heads did, he retired at 30.

  • For me, early retirement would mean doing the type of work I want rather than being committed to a full-time job. I don’t think I would ever stop working, or want to. Rather, I would like to have enough money to focus on more creative endeavors. I think we all have our own views of what retirement should be – but it sure helps to save some money for it!

  • Cool and nice pick up here with Mr Ramsey ESM. I must say that in reading a few of the things that Dave has put out he doesn’t seem particular focused on FIRE, which is a shame and disappointing. There’s probably multiple reasons why i.e. not enough followers (at this stage) for it to be profitable mentioning it along to perhaps it not serving his best interests..

    I like your ideas though and looking forward to seeing you FIRE’d 😉

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