Saturday, April 04, 2009

What's Up With Dave Ramsey?

After I blogged about Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope a few days ago, quite a few folks have asked about Dave and what he's all about.

How I Got Started - The Total Money Makeover
As I mentioned in that post, I was introduced to Dave's book "The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" (TMMO) just before Christmas. My friend, Jim, caught Dave on Fox News Business and on the radio and was intrigued enough by what he heard that he bought and read the book. As Jim described to me the six "baby steps" outlined in the book and I read some of the stories by real people, I realized this is what I needed to get my financial house back in order.

A Short History
My wife and I married with some financial baggage left over from our previous lives. She made some bad financial decisions and declared bankruptcy a few years prior. I made some terrible financial decisions with my ex-wife and on my own and had a mountain of debt. I seriously considered declaring bankruptcy myself on more than one occasion.

Shortly after our wedding I was able to settle a fairly large amount of old credit card debt and I paid off a few things. There were still a few financial things hanging over my head, but, as a couple, we were treading water fairly well. We even purchased a new truck and motorcycle because we could "afford the payments." We thought all was going well until I received a rather unpleasant surprise: a call from a collection agency which informed me of a credit card I forgot about after my divorce.

This really woke us up to reality: We were fooling ourselves and living paycheck to paycheck. I knew we needed to do something to get things back on track, and as I spoke with my wife about it she agreed. But, what to do? We didn't know where to start. That's where Dave's book came in.

Our Road to Financial Peace
I ordered the book when I got home after Jim showed it to me. When it arrived, my wife and I sat down and started reading. As we read it, I realized there wasn't a lot in there I didn't already know. The things he teaches are things my mom taught me years ago. But, because I thought I knew better I went against those things and got myself in a mess. TMMO helped us formulate a plan to get ourselves back on track, out of debt, and into financial fitness.

Keep in mind - TMMO is not a "get-rich-quick" scheme. Neither is it a proven way to make more money so you can be rich without working, and it's not affiliate marketing nor MLM. It is a way of changing your attitude about money, learning how it works and how you can control it and use it properly.

Getting out of debt is the biggest part - and the part which takes the most work. We're in the middle of our Debt Snowball, which is step 2 in Dave's 6-step program. After totalling up our debt and starting to pay off those debts one at a time from smallest to largest, we have managed to knock off almost half of our total debt load in almost four months. I can't describe how liberating this is - you really have to experience it for yourselves. It hasn't been easy and we've had to tell ourselves "no" on many things. I can, however, honestly tell you it's worth it. If you are living paycheck to paycheck - or worse finding you have more month than money - I can't recommend Dave's TMMO book enough. It will change your life.

We Believe in Financial Peace
We believe in TMMO so much that we jumped at the chance to help run a Financial Peace University at our church. This is a 12-week program where a group of us meet and watch a lesson by Dave on DVD. It's TMMO, except in more detail and with more specific instruction. After 5 weeks we can already see the lives of some in our group changing for the better. We're already planning to hold another Financial Peace University later this year, this one has been so successful thus far.

Finally - The Big Picture
There's one more aspect of this I want to cover, concerning how our personal financial dealings can impact our nation. If you read some of what I've posted in this space, you've probably caught my attitude about how our government is running things. Over the past few days I've been giving this some thought and I've come to the conclusion that if we're going to change how our government does things, we individuals need to lead that change in our personal lives.

If we, as individuals, insist on living in debt and meandering around paycheck to paycheck, how is our government going to know we are serious about dealing with overspending and indebtedness at a national level? But, if we get our financial houses in order, could we not bring more pressure to bear on Washington to do the same?

You may be thinking I have it backwards. Those in Washington are supposed to be leaders, shouldn't they lead by example? Yes, they should, but they aren't. I think if we're going to change the attitude of Washington, part of the process is changing our own attitudes towards overspending and debt. I believe Dave Ramsey has a way to point us in the right direction. So, please join in on April 23rd and attend a Town Hall for Hope viewing in your area.

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