“Better than I deserve,” I heard someone answer at the Brown County Courthouse after another someone had inquired as to his well-being.
Anyone who utters or is familiar with that phrase is most certainly a student of nationally syndicated financial expert Dave Ramsey. He hosts a talk radio show that is heard Monday through Friday from, if I’m not mistaken, 6-8 p.m. Ramsey also teaches a 13-week video course called Financial Peace University, which has had showings at numerous area churches.
You’re in for a treat if you attend one of the sessions, such as the one that’s coming up next month at the Early Church of Christ.
In most cases, I find it dreadfully dull to listen some humorless suit drone on about FUH-nance, as the experts call it. And there are those flamboyant, poolside-sitting yo-yos on late-night TV who claim you can become a millionaire with no work, just by buying their books, CDs or videos.
Ramsey is neither of those.
With Ramsey, you’ll get all the technical X’s and O’s of FUH-nance, but it will be delivered in an entertaining mix of fall-on-the-floor humor, common sense, straight talk and compassion. He’s equally at home talking to the Wall Street executive and the common cat juggler.
And he promises no magic formulas for getting out of debt and/or gaining at least some measure of wealth. Following his advice requires time, patience, hard work and discipline, and in some cases, a total reversal in lifestyle.
Other phrases you’re no doubt familiar with if you’re already familiar with Dave, or you soon will be:
Beans and rice, rice and beans. (If you’ve got a pile of debt, that’s what’s going to be on your menu for a while.)
Sell so much stuff, the kids will think they’re next. (Another strategy for the debt-laden.)
Live like no one else so you can live like no one else. (While the Joneses are busy keeping up with the Johnsons through extravagant spending and debt, you live conservatively, eat beans and rice and avoid debt en route to achieving financial stability.)
The only way to financial peace is through the prince of peace, Christ Jesus. (Speaks for itself.)
I’m debt-free-e-e! (Also speaks for itself.)
People who seek his advice range from those who are overwhelmed with debt to those who just need a little tweak to an otherwise glowing financial picture.
Callers range from the single mom who is struggling to feed, clothe and shelter herself and three kids on $16,000 a year to professionals with millions of dollars in business dealings. Many callers are coping with circumstances such as family dysfunction, death, divorce, health issues, idiot relatives, or all of the above, and the circumstances are either caused or exacerbated by suffocating financial difficulties.
Some have gotten that way through mostly bad luck; others have gotten there through mostly bad decisions, such as running up $100,000 in credit card charges and don’t understand why maybe they shouldn’t have just bought two brand new vehicles that cost $50,000 each.
Ramsey, who is based in Nashville, Tenn., is a riches-to-rags-back-to-riches story, so he knows plenty through personal experience.
His advice is sound, although difficult to follow in its entirety because it does requires a great deal of discipline. Ramsey advocates avoiding debt – above all else, avoiding credit cards – although he doesn’t fuss too much if you borrow for a house and/or vehicles, as long as you do so responsibly.
He’s also big on budgeting, down to the last dollar. If you and Mrs. Cat Juggler decide you’re each going to get an allowance of a particular amount of money to just spend or blow as you like, then that’s what it’s called in the budget – blow money.
Ramsey will acknowledge that budgeting can get horsey if one of you is a free spirit and the other is a tightwad, and he’ll help you navigate those difficult waters. It doesn’t work, Ramsey will tell you, if one of you treats the budget as something to ignore, and the other uses it to self-righteously, unforgivingly, pummel you.
Steve Nash writes his column for the Brownwood Bulletin on Thursdays. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.