Don’t be ishy.
That term describes those who say they are doing the Dave Ramsey plan...ish. In other words, they are semisortofthinkingoftryingtomaybedo some of the things he talks about, but not really. They’re doing Ramsey-ish.
For example, you might be ishy if:
You say you do a budget, but it’s not written down and your spouse is totally unaware of it.
You do a budget but you never track your spending to make sure you are sticking to the budget.
The only things you put in the budget are the regular bills that come in the mail.
You put the credit card bills in the budget, but use the credit cards for indiscriminate, unbudgeted spending.
You fail to budget for saving for a car and then go back into debt when you finally need to buy a car.
You pay extra on all your debts instead of focusing on the smallest one.
You don’t follow the baby steps in order.
Your Baby Step 1 is more than $1000.
You have a Baby Step 3 size emergency fund while you are still in Baby Step 2.
You are saving for retirement (Baby Step 4) while you’re still in debt (Baby Step 2).
You are saving for college but not for retirement.
You are paying extra on the mortgage while you still have other debt.
And so on.
The trouble is, it doesn’t work.
“Ishys” have made at most meager attempts to change the money habits that got them into trouble in the first place. It's just enough to make them feel better, like they are actually doing something. But nothing much really changes and they finally throw up their hands and say “This Dave Ramsey stuff doesn’t work!”. Well, it works if you do it. All of it. The plan works if you work the plan. If the words “except” and “but” enter into your description of how you’re going about this, you’re not doing it right, which is the same as not doing it at all.
I see this most often, to my dismay, with FPU grads. Folks who have taken the class, sometimes more than once, but never really committed to the process. It’s not lack of knowledge of the plan that’s holding them back, but usually some notion that they are somehow “different” than other people in some unique way. But they’re not unique. Helping these folks consists of finding the things they think make them different and convincing them otherwise.
Sometimes it’s just being overwhelmed by what seems like enormous debt (“enormous” is a relative thing), and inability to absorb all of the components of the plan. I can sympathize with that. I like helping those folks prioritize the most important elements to focus on, but that still doesn’t mean deviating from the baby steps.
Ishy doesn’t work in personal finance and it doesn’t work in much of anything else in life either. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. You’re not different, and your plan is not better (or you’d have your own radio show). You just haven’t committed to change. Yet.
Don’t be ishy. Go big or go home. Take a leap of faith.