By Will Fifield
COSTCO MEMBER DAVE Ramsey of
Nashville, Tennessee, is a personal money-management expert and a popular national
radio personality with more than 8. 5 million
listeners each week on more than 550 radio
stations. His five New York Times best-selling
books—Financial Peace, More Than Enough,
The Total Money Makeover, EntreLeadership
and Smart Money Smart Kids—have sold
more than 10 million copies combined.
The Connection recently caught up with
Ramsey to chat about the ups and downs of
his 30-plus-year career as a financial counselor and what to do if you feel overwhelmed
by your finances.
The Costco Connection: You’re a widely recognized financial expert, but you’ve admitted to
having made some big mistakes financially.
What’s the worst mistake you’ve made?
Dave Ramsey: I started buying and selling real
estate when I was 22, and I got rich, at least by
a kid from Antioch, Tennessee, standards. I
had $4 million worth of real estate. The mistake I made was that I had $3 million of debt.
It was commercial debt that allowed the bank,
when it got sold, to call our debts. And for the
next two and a half years of our lives we lost
everything we owned. We were sued. We were
foreclosed on. And finally we were bankrupt.
It was just stupid on steroids. But I learned a
lot in a very short period of time. Getting rich
early and losing everything early, all before I
was 28 years old—yeah, that destroyed my
family. My wife almost killed me.
CC: But there must have been an upside to your
DR: Yeah, definitely. The bright side is that we
learned our lessons. It caused me to go on a
journey to talk to old rich
people. I learned how
money really works.
Common sense started
flying into my life. And
then God blessed us by
opening doors to teach
that same stuff as a career
for the next 30 years.
CC: What were some of
the biggest challenges at
the beginning of your teaching career?
DR: I think the biggest challenge after the
bankruptcy was just that I had no confidence
left. I was pretty arrogant prior to that. I
thought I knew everything. Well, I got all that
knocked off of me. Your biggest strength is
your biggest weakness, and your biggest
weakness can be your biggest strength.
What I was sure of was the information I
had found from interviewing older people
about money, and from Bible scriptures on
handling money. This common-sense information was not mine. It wasn’t something I
invented. I was very confident in the information, even though I wasn’t very self-confident.
It made me broken and humble to relate to
people who were ashamed or felt guilty
because of how they handled their money.
But at the same time, it made me very sure-footed, and very bold with the solution to the
problem, since the solution didn’t come out of
CC: Since you’ve gone on this path, what have
been the biggest rewards?
DR: The rewards have always been watching
people change their lives. Even when I take a
call on the radio show today, my listeners say
one of the favorite things they like is hearing
a caller who is lost. They don’t know what to
do. We can walk them through it, and we can
literally hear the light bulb click over the top
of their heads. And you smile. You go, “Oh,
that one just got it. They’re going to do it.” You
hear hope in their voice.
CC: What advice would you have for somebody who is overwhelmed with his or her
DR: It is over whelming, because money’s a big
subject. It touches our past, our future, our
hopes, our dreams and our fears. It touches
every part of our lives, and it can become very
emotional really quick. Yes, there’s an elephant in the room. That’s overwhelming. But
how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a
time. With finances, you take one step forward, and then the next minute take
another [step] forward, and then take
another step forward. Don’t be overwhelmed by the journey; just take the
next step. C
The Costco Connection
You’ll find Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide
to Money (Item #1034422, 1/4) as part of
an assortment of financial-help books at
your local Costco warehouse.
Financial expert and author
Dave Ramsey talks dollars and sense
In our digital editions
Click here to see Dave Ramsey
talk to a young couple about paying off $126,000 in debt in 34
months. (See page 14 for details.)
One for the money
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