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Radio host,
best selling author

Dave Ramsey
on battling his own debt crisis and lessons about money from the Bible

~ By John Kapetaneas and Pavni Mittal - ABC News ~

  In the pantheon of financial gurus, Dave Ramsey holds a unique position.

  Known for his pull-no-punches, sock-you-in-the-mouth take on finances, Ramsey is one of the most listened-to talk radio hosts in America with 13 million listeners weekly -- trailing only Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

  He doles out his brand of financial discipline to people desperately in need over 600 radio stations across the country. His daily dose of tough love has also racked up more than 100 million views on his YouTube channel.

  "Debt's not the problem, it's the symptom," the host from Antioch, Tennessee, told "Nightline." "Debt is the result of being disorganized, immature, buying things I can't afford to impress people I don't really like."

  In a year that has seen historic levels of household debt in the country -- the average American has nearly $30,000 in student loan debt according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel and over $6,000 in credit card debt according to Experian's State of Credit study -- Ramsey is an anti-debt crusader who uses his platform to help Americans become debt-free by any means necessary.

  He said that currently, the American economy has no overarching theme.

  "There are pockets that are doing worse. There are pockets that are having the best years of their lives. There's pockets that are taking control of their own destiny for the first time ever," he said.

  There's a lot of good happening, Ramsey said, but, he said, "All of us, particularly those of us in the media, we're experiencing and watching and walking in this toxicity that's out there, too."

  "There's this tremendous hatred and visceral stuff that's going on that's not causing people to win and it's affecting their money," he continued. "That sounds very philosophical, not economic, but it affects the economics."

  In today's polarizing political and cultural climate, Ramsey isn't known for coddling his listeners.

   "If you call me up and say, 'Well, I need to do this dumb thing, I need to do this dumb thing,' I'm like, 'No, do this instead, not do this dumb thing,'" he said. "I'm going to increase the heat, but it's not for the entertainment value, it's for the good of that person. Because if I don't get through to them, they're going to do that dumb thing. It's going to hurt them."

  Sometimes, he makes an exception.

  "I had a lady call me yesterday, her husband had just passed away. I'm certainly not drill instructor with her. I'm going to be right there with her and walk with this lady. Her heart's broken. I just say, 'Hey, here's what we're going to do with money for a little while. Nothing. You need to just cry a little. It's okay,'" he said.

  But when it comes to doling out his thoughts on the government's finances, he doesn't hold back.

  Ramsey, an Evangelical Christian, said he supports some of Trump's policies.

  "I support his policies, some of them. But as a person of faith, I can't support his behaviors or sometimes his attitudes," he said. "The tax law that passed, if you can just back away from all the Trump part of it and just say, 'Look at what has occurred,' as a small business person, I'm able to hire a lot more people. I'm able to do a lot more things to help people, because I'm not being taxed as heavy."

  He added that he doesn't spend time on "merging those two worlds."

  "I don't care who you are. I don't care what your religion is, I don't care what your politics are, I don't care what your orientation is, I don't care what your race is. I'm going to help you. That's who I'm for," he said.'

Battling his own debt crisis

  One of the first people that Ramsey helped was himself.

  Forced to declare bankruptcy after losing most of their money in real estate, Ramsey and his wife hit rock bottom in the 1980s.

  "I was stupid. I borrowed money out my ears, man, and out my eyeballs and everything else. We were so far in debt we couldn't breathe. Ruined our lives and it made our lives," he said.

  But Ramsey battled back.

  And after lecturing about financial responsibility at his local church, he tried his hand at giving financial advice at a local radio station.  His style wasn't rooted in complicated financial equations or investment strategies but simple, easy to understand principles applied with ruthless execution.

  "You go through something like that you have some 'no matter what' moments where you say, 'I used to do that, but no matter what, I'm never doing that again, it hurts. No matter what, I'm putting myself or my family in this position again,'" he said.

  He added, "Every time I come up to the edge of borrowing money, or lowering our level of generosity, or not living on a plan... Those are all 'no matter what's' for us. Some people talk about it like it's a negotiable principle or something. When you've been through what we've been through, it's not negotiable anymore."

  His best-selling book, "The Total Money Makeover," breaks down his philosophy into easy-to-learn "Baby Steps," as he calls them.
  (It's currently #4 on the ECPA Christian Booksellers Top 25 list while it's accompanying "The Total Money Makeover Workbook," is #19.)

  For instance, "Baby Step 1" is save $1,000 cash for emergencies while "Baby Step 4" is to invest 15 percent of your income in retirement.

  When asked about merging his faith with finance, Ramsey explained, "The Bible talks about money a lot. Even if you're not a Christian, what the Bible says about money is mostly common sense. It's live on less than you make, save money."

An expanding family business

  Ramsey's anti-debt empire, in suburban Nashville, is expanding. Scattered over five buildings, he has a staff of 750 people, which he said he hopes to increase to around 800 by the end of the year.

  Business, he said, was "very good."

 The walls at his headquarters are full of photos of him with a diverse group of, what he calls, "Ramsey personalities."

  "They're the brands out front. So Anthony's [O'Neal] in the youth and millennial space. Christy [Wright] has a number one bestseller called 'Business Boutique: Equipping Women to Make Money Doing What They Love.' She's in the women in leadership and business space. [Ken] Coleman has a show on XM on careers, a brilliant young guy," he explained.

  The heir apparent to his vast empire is none other than his daughter, Rachel Cruze.

  "It is a family business," Cruze told "Nightline." "Thankfully we're all loving it. And really called to each of our positions. So I get to travel and speak and do my YouTube show all while helping people with money. So carrying on the legacy of dad's message but in my own way."

  She described her style as "I'm your friend, I will walk beside you," as compared to her father who she said was "more like everyone's fun loving uncle, but will hit you with the truth if you need the truth."

  While the walls of his office are littered with success stories, some in the financial spheres have criticized Ramsey for setting unrealistic expectations for investing and debt repayment.

  "I am one of those guys, if you asked my critics, that I ripped off a bunch of poor people [by] selling them books. Those poor people who got out of debt don't think I ripped them off. We aren't ashamed of succeeding by helping," he said.

  His message of helping people clicked with Julia Huellemeier and her husband, Robbie Huellemeier.

  After graduating college and graduate school and then buying their first house, the couple found themselves swimming in debt of over $250,000.

  Then, Julia Huellemeier stumbled across a book with Dave Ramsey's face on it.

  "We actually found it at a yard sale for a dollar so we picked it up and read it very quickly. Then we paid off all of the student loan and the car within the first couple of years," Julia Huellemeier told "Nightline."

  The couple managed to pay off their home mortgage within five years - a feat they credit Ramsey with.

  "That was probably the best dollar I've ever spent," she said.

  The couple recently went to Ramsey's headquarters to participate in "A Debt-Free Scream," a tradition involving newly debt-free people from across the country to visit the office and shout their joy at their financial guru.

  "One of the things we put on the wall around here, if you help enough people, you don't have to worry about money," said Ramsey. "So, the secret to our success is that we've helped a bunch of people."

~  portions from abcnews.com ~

Dave Ramsey
"The Money Answer Book"



The Money Answer Book offers quick answers to more than 100 of your everyday financial questions. Written in a Q & A format, these questions are the most frequently asked questions on the Dave Ramsey Show. Topics include budgeting, retirement planning, college savings, spending, charitable giving, credit cards, debt, and many other important concerns. This is a quick and easy reference when you don't have time to do a lot of research. Paperback.
Dave Ramsey
"Financial Peace: Revisited"



Want to get out of debt and stay out? Financial Peace Revisited gives you the tools to understand why you are in debt, create a budget you can stick to, set goals you can achieve, and make things right for you and your family emotionally, spiritually, and financially, for good. Updated version of the bestseller Financial Peace includes new chapters on marriage, singles, kids, and families.
Dave's Radio Program
Hear his live call in radio show
in metro Atlanta...
Monday-Friday, 2-5pm
in Atlanta on
WGST, 640AM

Monday-Friday, 6-7pm
in Gainesville, GA on
WDUN-AM, 550AM
Monday-Friday, 2-3pm
in Gainesville, GA on
WDUN-FM, 102.9FM

Monday-Friday, 3-5pm
in Rome, GA on
WLAQ, 1410AM, 102.9FM

Monday-Friday, 7-8pm
in Hartwell, GA on
WKLY, 980AM, 104.1FM

Monday-Friday, 9am-12pm, 9pm-12am
in Dalton, GA on

WBLJ, 1230AM

Monday-Friday, 2-5pm
in LaGrange, GA on

WLWE, 1360AM, 94.7FM
Monday-Friday, 2-5pm
WLAG 1240AM, 96.9FM

Monday-Friday, 9am-12pm
in Cleveland, GA on

WBAC, 1340AM

Monday-Friday, 3-5pm
in Cleveland, GA on

WRWH, 1350AM

 
 Dave Ramsey
"The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan
for Financial Fitness
"


 Is your "owe" starting to show? Shrink your waste line, bulk up your bank balance, and get into financial shape with money expert and radio host Ramsey's comprehensive---and simple---plan for debt-free living. You'll be fiscally fit in no time! This revised edition of the bestseller features all-new "Dave Rants" and forms; and updated statistics. 288 pages, hardcover from Nelson.
 
Dave Ramsey
"The Total Money Makeover Workbook,
Classic Edition:
The Essential Companion
for Applying the
Book's Principles
"

 In this updated workbook, Dave Ramsey combines recent statistics about debt, credit cards, bankruptcy, and wealth with a straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits. The exercises will change your spending and saving habits so that your mind and your money are working to make your life free of financial stress. Ramsey will motivate you to take immediate action so you can: Set up an emergency fund, Maximize your retirement investing, Prepare for college funding, Pay off your home mortgage, Build wealth!
 
Dave Ramsey & Rachel Cruze
"Smart Money,
Smart Kids:
Raising The Next Generation
To Win With Money"



Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze teach parents how to raise money-smart kids in a debt-filled world in their brand new book, Smart Money Smart Kids. Starting with the basics like working, spending, saving, and giving, and moving into more challenging issues like avoiding debt for life, paying cash for college, and battling discontentment, Dave and Rachel present a no-nonsense, common-sense approach for changing your family tree.
 
Dave Ramsey

Ramsey Smart Conference Live Event Experience Video

Take a front-row seat for the life-changing Ramsey Smart Conference - right in the comfort of your own home!
The
Ramsey SMART Conference is a DVD Set consisting of talks by leading experts on the subjects of marriage, parenting, money, career, leadership, and personal development.
These power-packed talks by Dave Ramsey, Henry Cloud, Les Parrott, Meg Meeker, Chris Hogan, Christy Wright, and Anthony O'Neal challenge listeners to break away from "normal" and find a deeper purpose for your life. The SMART DVD set includes:
Two
Smart Conference participant workbooks
Three DVDs with 4.5 hours of talks recorded at recent
Smart Conference events
One copy of Dave Ramsey's personal story on CD (30 minutes) One access code for streaming
Smart Conference to your favorite device.
 
Dave Ramsey
"Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money: The Handook of Financial Peace University"



Covering everything on how to budget, save, dump debt, and invest, Ramsey's A-to-Z guide answers all your "How?" "What?" and "Why?" questions about money! A collection of what he teaches in his Financial Peace University program, this all-in-one resource also explores insurance options, mortgages, marketing, bargain hunting, and the most important topic
of all - giving.
 
 
Go to our Dave Ramsey page for financial advice - Click Here

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feature story

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