The #1 Formula for Defeating Debt


I only have one famous friend—his name is Dave Ramsey—and I will forever be in his debt.

Which is a funny statement, actually, since Dave is all about … getting out of debt!

Truly, though, I’m thankful we found each other.

Dave tells the story of how he stumbled across us at QBQ, Inc. whenever I’m on his radio program (recent interview here). He was wandering an airport when he found QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. Like many do, he stood in the book store reading. After getting through most of QBQ!—a one hour read—he “felt so guilty” he decided to buy it.

That began our friendship.

But why did the QBQ! book intrigue him so much? Well, because Dave knows this:

Without PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY, there will be financial problems.

As many of you know, in April 2012, I began walking more and eating less. I’ve lost 43 pounds—and kept it off. Ask me what I’m eating and I’ll say “less.” The story here …

Why do I mention my weight loss—again? Because of the formula I used to melt fat from my body. Most people won’t use it. Why is that? Too simple.

My formula, which I plan to sell for billions, is this:

Burn off slightly more calories than I take in each day = Amazing Results!

This commonsense formula, when applied to our finances, looks like this:

Spend slightly less money than I earn each day = Amazing Results!

Sounds simple because it is simple. And as we said in our last blog (with a book give-away), simple works.

So let’s not complicate (or defeat) simplicity with a bunch of blameand excuses like these:

  • Nobody takes cash anymoreI must have credit cards … and I get points!
  • My spouse spends too much.
  • My children need to have what their friends have or they’ll feel left out.
  • Our growing family needed more bathrooms.
  • We deserve to get away, so we really needed that Aruba vacation!
  • My kid just has to go to that college to succeed in life.
  • The politicians aren’t turning the economy around.
  • My employer doesn’t pay me enough.
  • ______________________________________?

(In the “Comments” section below, can you add another excuse to our list above?)

Excuses. They’re a fool’s way of thinking. Yes, I said FOOL. Because, as I know Mr. Ramsey would agree, being in debt is a foolish way to live life. In fact, one of his favorite phrases is, “Debt is dumb!” 🙂

Ben Franklin said, “If it hurts, it instructs.” Truth hurts. So after reading this message, look at your financial situation, and if you’re not where you want to be, take a mental inventory and count the excuses in your head.

Go ahead … I’ll wait …


Can’t find any? Outstanding! You will succeed in getting where you want to go!

Oh, my—you found lots of excuses?!? Hmm, must be time for change.

And just like simplicity, change is good.

Discussion Questions:

What excuses have you heard from others about money? 

What excuses have you made? 

What one excuse will you now delete from your mind and never use again?

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13 Responses

  1. John – I don’t know Dave Ramsey like you do (But I know you!), and I’m in Dave’s debt as well! The wife and I are almost debt free (just 1 student loan left) and we’ve made plenty of excuses:

    Eating Out: “It’s too much work to cook. I’m tired (Even though I have a fridge FULL of food).
    New Car: “I got a raise, shouldn’t I be able to enjoy it?”
    30 year Student Loan: “The interest rate is not THAT bad…and it’s a 30 year loan. It must take 30 years, right?”
    in 2007: “We MUST buy a house NOW or we’ll NEVER be able to afford one” Ouch.

  2. I too live debt free – including my house. It’s such a wonderful feeling! When I was a bank branch manager, I heard all of these plus more from my customers:

    I need to borrow some more money. I have to give my kids money or my grandkids will starve. (Will they? If you keep giving them money, the parents don’t have to figure it out and it will bankrupt you – I’ve seen it too many times)

    I’m working overtime, so I’ll be able to pay off that 3 year-same-as-cash loan for my furniture next year. The overtime will continue, right? WRONG! (You will keep putting off paying that debt and it will soon be 3 yrs from now and you’ll be paying interest on furniture that you now need to replace because it was junk to begin with)

    I need to borrow money – My refrigerator broke – I NEED a new one (not used). My furnace broke – I need a new one (not just repair it). My car has had so many repairs lately, it makes sense to just trade it off and buy a new one. I can afford the payment, so it’s ok to go into debt for $20 or $30 thousand dollars. (instead of buying older but good)

    I need to refinance my home and payoff these credit cards. I just can’t pay all my bills, the payments are too high. Refinancing my home will lower my payments. (it will also allow you to use those credit cards again and you’ll be right back in here in 2 years to do it again because you haven’t learned the lesson you need to learn)

    What’s really happening is that they really NEED to lower the cable bill, disconnet the cell phone/home phone, buy used but good, save money for those known repairs, and just plain follow Dave Ramsey’s proven plan of success! Live simpler and beneath your means. Find a bank or credit union or church nearby to take the Dave Ramsey course. It will change your life!

  3. John,

    Though hardly a practitioner of the principle himself, Mr. Micawber from Charles Dickens’s novel David Copperfield said pretty much the same thing 160+ years ago:

    “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.”

  4. Right on, again, John! I really enjoy and find great value in your posts. Even being an “accountable” kinda guy, I still default to the easy many times versus the correct. Thanks again! Shawn Young

  5. We don’t make excuses anymore. Granted, Tara (my wife) used to work for Dave Ramsey and I’ve been listening to him for 12 years now (I still remember your first interview with him John).

    There is no excuse for debt. None. I’d rather own everything I have.

  6. John-
    I remember when my son was about 5 years old. He’d ask for something at the store, and I’d reply, “We don’t have the money for that.” To which HE would reply, “Just go to the ATM!” That was out of the mouths of babes, but sadly, I know some adults that seem to think their debit cards are linked to an unlimited supply of cash, and that credit cards are some magical, painless way of getting what you want. Buy now, pay later! I’ve always tried to live on the premise that if I can’t afford it, I don’t need it.

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