Well, today was the day. I attended a Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover Live! event this afternoon.
Actually, I attended only half of it.
Thanks to a searing headache that became unbearable around the halfway-point of the show, I most certainly did NOT get my money’s worth ($20 per seat) out of the deal. But that wasn’t Dave’s fault. Stupid me forgot to have painkillers handy for just such an emergency. That’s what I get for not planning ahead, right?
I will say this: Dave Ramsey (talk-radio host, creator of “The Baby Steps”, and author of Total Money Makeover, among others) is an energetic guy, a great communicator, and a salesman of notable ability.
“The world we live in today is pretty strange,” he told the audience early on. “It is one where common sense has become a marketable commodity. I’ve simply packaged it better than anyone else in my generation.”
He may be right. The auditorium was wall-to-wall full, with extra fold-out seats crowding all aisles. Lines at his book- and media-product-sales tables outside the auditorium were heavily populated, too. Most of the people around me seemed excited to be in attendance. I got the distinct feeling that most folks were there due to ties with churches and other religious groups. No big surprise, as Dave leans heavily upon these groups for readership and networking of sales. And readers of Ramsey’s books know he does not shy away from outright religious overtones and missives in his financial advice. (“God’s and Grandma’s system of managing money,” as he describes it.)
If you’re willing to look a bit beyond all that, you get to hear a pretty good and entertaining fiscal sermon delivered by a guy who’s obviously had lots of practice. Much of his live message duplicated the content of Total Money Makeover, but there was enough fresh material thrown in to make the hours of sitting in not-so-comfortable pews a little more bearable. Would it have been worth the $20 if I’d have been able to stay for the duration? Yes, probably so.
One anecdote of Dave’s that I found rather interesting:
Ramsey offered the following what-if to the audience: Suppose your young child at home has been diagnosed with a terminally ill condition. She will die in exactly one year unless a $5,000 vaccine can be purchased and administered. Your insurance does not cover this vaccine in any portion. You must pay for it yourself, but you cannot under any circumstances use any funds which you already have. You may not borrow the money for it; you may not pay for it with credit in any way. You may use only what cash you can raise over the next year.
“How many of you,” Dave then asked the audience, “would find a way — somehow, some way — to raise that five thousand dollars?”
As you might imagine, the number of arms raised was … extremely high.
The point behind this macabre scenario? According to Ramsey, one reason for why debt has become such an out-of-control problem in this country is that people have become almost entirely ambivalent to the ramifications of it. Debt, he said, obviously causes consumers varying degrees of financial discomfort for years and years. Yet until things get so painful that drastic change is the only way out, people simply do not care about paying off their debts, because it doesn’t matter enough to them on a personal level.
“If the end result matters enough to you,” Ramsey said, “then you will do whatever it takes to get it accomplished. Failure will not be an option. You would take any action necessary to save your daughter’s life. Yet people will not do the same to save their financial lives.”
There is significant truth in that, I think. If it matters enough to you, you will do it.
Unless, of course, your headache is just too bad. 🙂