Is Caleb Hammer Actually Helping People?

A few months ago, I discovered a YouTuber named Caleb Hammer. He’s kind of like Dave Ramsey, showcasing mostly young people’s dire financial situations and striving to help them reach prosperity. While Ramsey has a proven track record stretching back about three decades, Caleb is more of an unknown quantity.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt as I watched his unorthodox method of berating people over their poor spending habits and lack of discipline. Ramsey does the same thing, after all. 

However, I started to wonder if there’s some fundamental flaw in Caleb’s approach. He puts together nice budgets for people, but I don’t know if the people he’s talking to are being helped to change according to what he sets up for them. Let’s examine why that is and what Caleb should do differently to be more of a benefit to people drowning in debt.

How Caleb Hammer Tries to Help People

People don’t change purely by knowing what to do, but why to do it. If I’m convinced that something is the right thing to do, I will do it. Nothing will stand in the way of me working hard and achieving whatever it is. That comes from a moral judgment. Sadly, moral judgments have a bad name these days because they’re looked at as purely negative.

I’ve realized that Caleb’s methods of persuading people fall flat because they boil down to shame, guilt, and fear – all of which are negative and emotional, not positive and rational. He tells people they should be ashamed of their spending habits by calling them babies, he makes them feel guilty for being a burden on their parents and children, and he warns them that they’re going to drop dead on the Walmart floor because they’ll have to work until they die.

The only positive thing he has to offer people are promises in the far-off future about retiring and getting out of debt. The problem is that he’s talking to people who are obsessed with pleasures or problems in the moment, and they don’t want to worry about hypothetical situations down the line. Looking to the future causes stress to them, and it’s beyond their capacity. Caleb hasn’t sold them on the idea of why the future matters. What 20-something is worried about retirement or thinks that that should be their top priority?

Everything Caleb says is about being self-centered. He wants people to win with money so that they will be more comfortable in the coming years. But that still doesn’t answer why they should care. Is there nothing more than the self? Unfortunately not to Caleb because he says many times that all we are is our brain. That’s not looking any higher or seeking to get to the heart of morality. If all that matters is our own comfort, there is really no reason to do anything except to avoid pain and maximize pleasure.

What Caleb Needs to Change

I think the reason why Dave Ramsey is so successful is because he requires sacrifices of people and convinces them of the rightness of those sacrifices. We’re not just living for our own sakes, but we’re striving to live a higher law that demands we put a Being who is greater than us first.

What if Caleb asked his interviewees to set aside 10 percent of their income to give to charity? What if he asked them to take time to go to church every Sunday? What if he invited people to take a leap of faith? Would they do it? There’s one lady who was giving to charity, and Caleb told her to stop that immediately because she couldn’t even provide for her basic necessities. I was shocked by his statement. It demonstrated that his priorities are completely backwards from what they need to be to find happiness.

Yes, it is foolish to spend money with abandon and not take care of our own needs. But think of the widow’s mite. Did Jesus Christ criticize the widow for giving all she had to charity? No, He told His apostles that she had demonstrated more faith than anyone else that day and given more than all of them, despite the meagerness of her offering. I’m sure she was blessed by God for that sacrifice, similar to the way the starving widow was blessed for feeding the prophet Elijah before her own son.

We see miracles after the trial of our faith. If Caleb isn’t willing to ask people to put God above all else in their lives, how can he expect them to see the kind of miraculous changes he’s calling for? God heals our bad habits better than any psychologist or financial expert. That is an understatement. He’s the Perfect Healer.

If Caleb told people to put 10 percent of every paycheck they receive aside to give to a church or some noble charity, that would change everything. After that, they could set aside money to savings and lastly begin paying for necessities and paying down debts. If we force ourselves to make do with less, we’ll find that we’re capable of much more than we ever thought possible. It would put people’s overspending on frivolities in the proper context. By looking outside of themselves and thinking of others’ needs, it would inspire them to change far more effectively than focusing on their current budget.

Telling someone not to give anything until they have a lot of money saved is like telling newlyweds not to have kids until they’ve got fully funded college funds. There will always be uncertainty when it comes to doing the right thing. In fact, it’s often harder and requires much more of us than if we took the usual path of self-indulgence. 

Feeling Inspired

I never see someone leave Caleb’s show appearing inspired and excited to change. They all come across as beaten down, oblivious, entrenched, and/or pitiable. He’s not changing people’s lives for the better. I doubt he’s even having an uplifting effect on his viewers. It’s sad. The kind of contentious spirit he brings is calculated to make viewers feel vindicated that others are in their same position, or feel superior that they’re doing better than the participants on the show.

Imagine if Caleb changed his approach to be more Christlike, humble, patient, and kind instead of berating, mocking, and putting down. What if he tried to get to the root of why people feel the way they do about money because of trauma, poverty, and deep-seated doubts about themselves? If people could look up with hope instead of down with shame after talking with him, they would be much more likely to want to change.

Caleb’s current approach isn’t helping people. He recently had two guests return after many months to check up on them. He had laid out perfectly sensible plans for them to get out of debt and achieve financial stability. But they barely made any progress. One was deeply depressed about her situation while the other was defiant and defensive. There was no hope or inspiration in either of them.

And Caleb wasn’t convinced that either of them would be willing to change after their second meeting, either. He felt like they had both failed, but I think he should take those follow-up interviews as a chance to self-examine just as harshly. If the people he’s trying to help aren’t accepting his assistance, perhaps he needs to do something differently. He doesn’t necessarily need to be a Dave Ramsey clone, but he sure does need to help people feel inspired if he wants to see results.

Ramsey’s whole point is that people need to live way below their means for a while so that they can one day be outrageously generous with their abundant wealth. Think of all the good that one could do when freed from the chains of debt and other financial struggles. In addition, it’s important to give what we can at every step so when we’re finally unshackled, we already have those patterns in place of being charitable.

I love offering hope, optimism, and interesting insights on this website. I apologize if any of this has come across as negative. I think that having faith in God is what truly sets people up for success in life. That’s not to say that every follower of Christ will be wealthy or live comfortably, free of earthly cares. But God always blesses those who follow Him. That’s the best financial (or life) advice I can imagine. Get right with God, and He’ll never lead you astray.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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