Following Ramsey’s principles, meeting the man himself

Following Ramsey’s principles, meeting the man himself

In the past couple weeks we went down to Nashville for my wife’s birthday. We have friends who were great hosts and tour guides, but there was one thing I wanted to do, and that was to watch a live taping of “The Ramsey Show,” the nationally syndicated radio program with host, author and businessman Dave Ramsey.

I was super lucky that Ramsey was there along with another personality, Dr. John Delony. Both are all-stars in the Ramsey world. It was hard to believe what we saw when we showed up to the sprawling Franklin campus. It was paved all the way back with a roundabout or two and seemingly endless parking.

While we didn’t see everything, Ramsey boasts a 223,000 sq. ft. office building and a second measly 192,000 sq. ft. building. While I was there, the 2,300-seat auditorium was being built. The mind-blowing thing about all of this is that there is not one bank sign out by the road and the company never had to worry about where interest rates were because everything was paid for by cash. It’s borderline mind numbing when you think about it, because it seems like a fantasy that strictly cash was paid for all of this.

As we were driving in, my friend who was driving and I started talking about the Ramsey Baby Steps and what Ramsey would recommend on how to buy a rental. I mentioned that the primary house would have to be paid off and then you would just have to save to pay for a rental house cash. Keep in mind we were driving through Franklin, close to Nashville, where rundown buildings that most of us couldn’t imagine living in are going for upper $300,00’s and up to over half a million. That’s where the sticking point came with my friend — the length of time you would have to save to first pay off your house, and then have to save for what would seem like eternity to pay cash for your next rental. I agreed with him.

He kept coming back to good debt and how the Bible definitely mentions how toxic bad debt is — borrower is slave to the lender. It would feel nearly impossible to save up for a rental, but where Dave makes a good point is after that first one, things start rolling. It takes discipline, plain and simple. That’s why Dave Ramsey allows people to do their “Debt Free Scream,” even if their house isn’t paid off, because it’s a motivation to get out of the medical, credit card other consumer debt. In the case that we heard, it was an $8,000 bed that the couple had gone in debt for. Ouch.

I was happy to see both sides of the coin, but like I wrote before, I will always say there is good debt. Debt that won’t cripple you or hinder your future, but the best kind of debt is no debt. Seeing everything Dave Ramsey has built without debt is amazing, but it seems unattainable, at least for a person who isn’t airing a show across the country and who doesn’t have multiple New York Times best sellers. So how does the average person do it?

This is a great question, and one that is tough to answer, because Mr. Ramsey is probably seeing numbers on his balance sheet that most of us could only dream of. It goes back to very cliché actions: work hard, take calculated risks, learn everyday and get outside of your comfort zone. I know that is bland advice, but it is tried and true. It has traversed generation after generation and Dave Ramsey is the epitome of it. Starting a huge radio show from nothing proves it.

The cherry on top of this was of course meeting Dave — we’re now on a first-name basis — and being able to take a partially socially distanced picture with him.

Holmes County native BJ Yoder is an insurance agent by day and a finance enthusiast by night. This column is for informational purposes only. He can be emailed at