Dave Ramsey Delusion :: A Childcare Conversation

Dave Ramsey Delusion :: A Childcare Conversation

If you’re a mom on Tik Tok, you have probably come across this Dave Ramsey post.

I’ll give you a quick summary. A caller located in Philadelphia expressed that he and his wife were having trouble getting by on their combined salary of $180,000. Dave seemed completely flabbergasted at the thought that they could not get by on this salary. After getting into more details of their finances, the gentleman shared that their daycare costs are at about $25,000 per child. 

Dave’s reaction: “That’s dumber than crap.” 

His guest’s suggestion: “Find free summer camp.” “Time to drop the filet mignon.” 

My reaction to Dave: How dare you?!

While there are some principles of Dave’s I agree with, I do think he is incredibly out of touch with today’s culture and costs. And not only is he out of touch, but the way he speaks to people is insulting.

Let’s do some math here. 

Average cost of infant care in Lafayette: $751/month

Average cost of toddler care in Lafayette: $706/month

Average salary in Louisiana: $51,000/year 

Average rent in Lafayette: $1,400/month

There are a lot of scenarios on how this can play out. 

2 incomes; 1 infant; 1 toddler

Monthly income $8,333
Daycare $1,457
Rent $1,400
Leftover for every other bill (health insurance, car insurance, car notes, food, clothing, taxes, etc.)  $5,476

1 income; 1 infant

Monthly income $4,000
Daycare $751
Rent $1,000
Leftover for every other bill (health insurance, car insurance, car notes, food, clothing, etc.)  $2,249

You can play out the scenario a number of ways, but what remains is this: childcare is not frivolous. Childcare is not “dumber than crap.”

Childcare workers deserve a livable wage. 

Child care centers can only take in so many children by law. There is a cap as to how many children can attend school there. 

This means the only way childcare centers can afford to pay their employees fairly AND keep up with the price of inflation AND maintain their facilities is by increasing the fees per child. 

Dave Ramsey Delusion :: A Childcare Conversation

Ask any business owner: if you know you have a ceiling when you go into business, it’s not an easy decision to go into it. 

Ramsey had an attempt on how to afford the high cost of childcare. I thought, how exciting! When I read the advice, it was dripping with privilege and a misunderstanding of the average American’s financial situation. 

“Let family pitch in.” As nice as that sounds, my parents are still working to afford their own bills. 

“Ask your employer about changing your work schedule.” I am fortunate to have a flexible office job, but those who are servers, nurses, car wash attendants, basically any on-site employee, they do not have this option. 

“Take advantage of your workplace daycare.” Oh, so, these exist? For companies that are not multi million-billion dollar corporations?

Let me wrap this up. 

While this video and article are frustrating enough to send me into a tailspin, I’d like to take a moment to affirm mothers who may be in a similar boat as me.

Childcare is expensive. Period. You are not doing anything wrong. The system is bizarre, and we cannot afford (literally) to wait until it fixes itself. 

Debt doesn’t determine your value. Monetary value, that is one thing. But what a lot of therapy has taught me is that not all debt equates to being irresponsible. Seek guidance when needed, but you know what is in the best interest of your family. 

We are not in our parents’ circumstances. Gone are the days when wages and the price of housing and goods rose together. It’s not balanced. It’s not easy. And we are just figuring it out as we go. 

There is no one right way. Do not let anyone, even the great Dave Ramsey, belittle you into thinking there is one solitary way to manage the intricacy of finances. 

We’re all doing the best we can. With a little bit of financial education, a dash of kindness, and some accountability, we could clumsily find a path ahead. And that, Dave, is the best advice you could ever give.

Jessica Hauerwas
Jessica is a nonprofit leader who loves bopping around Lafayette for the best burgers or bands in town. She is the Executive Director of Downtown Lafayette Unlimited where she runs the day-to-day nonprofit. She and her husband Chris have three littles at home (Jane, Clark, and Louise) where there is lots of giggling and always a cup of coffee brewing. Jessica is passionate about community-building and empowering working mothers. Jessica also volunteers for various organizations, is a member of the Lafayette Re-Entry Coalition, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette, and a survivor of being a mother of three under 4.

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