A Note from Dave

I have an unusual way of looking at the world. My wife, Sharon, says I'm weird, and, truthfully, I am weird. But there's a reason. Starting from nothing, by the time I was 26, I had a net worth of a little over a million dollars. I was making $250,000 a year. That's more than $20,000 a month net taxable income. I was really having fun. But 98% truth is a lie. That 2% can cause big problems, especially with $4 million in real estate. I had a lot of debt—a lot of short-term debt—and I'm the idiot who signed up for the trip.

The short version of the story is that debt caused us, over the course of two and a half years of fighting it, to lose everything. We didn't tell anyone what was going on, but if we had to do it again, we would learn from the wisdom of others who have been through it. We soon learned that we weren’t the only ones at the bottom. Barbie and Ken (you know, the couple that appears to be perfect—perfect clothes, perfect car, perfect house) are broke, and I don't take financial advice from broke people anymore.

After losing everything, I went on a quest ... to find out how money really works.

After losing everything, I went on a quest to find out how money really works, how I could take control of it, and how I could have confidence in handling it. I read everything I could get my hands on. I interviewed older rich people—people who made money and kept it. That quest led me to a really, really uncomfortable place: my mirror. I came to realize that my money problems, worries and shortages largely began and ended with the person in my mirror. I also realized that if I could learn to manage the character I shaved with every morning, I would win with money. I went back to my first love, real estate, to eat and to get out of debt. Along the way, I began another path—the path of helping others, literally millions of others, take the same quest to the mirror. That path led to starting Ramsey Solutions. We’ve been helping people change their lives for over 20 years, and we’re not slowing down.

I’ve paid the “stupid tax” (mistakes with dollar signs on the end) so you don't have to, and I’m here to tell you that whoever you are, wherever you came from, and however deep of a mess you might be in right now, you can get out of it. You can take control and use the same commonsense principles I did to turn your situation around. And my team and I want to walk with you through it, every step of the way. It’s go time.

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Live Like No One Else - The Dave Ramsey Story

Photo of Dave Ramsey

Who is Dave Ramsey?

Dave Ramsey is the founder and CEO of the company Ramsey Solutions, where he’s helped people take control of their money and their lives since 1992. He’s also an eight-time national bestselling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show. After battling his way out of bankruptcy and millions of dollars of debt, Dave set out to change the toxic money culture for good—making it his company’s mission to provide biblically based, commonsense education and empowerment that give HOPE to everyone in every walk of life.

Photo of Dave Ramsey

Who is Dave Ramsey?

Dave Ramsey is the founder and CEO of the company Ramsey Solutions, where he’s helped people take control of their money and their lives since 1992. He’s also an eight-time national bestselling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show. After battling his way out of bankruptcy and millions of dollars of debt, Dave set out to change the toxic money culture for good—making it his company’s mission to provide biblically based, commonsense education and empowerment that give HOPE to everyone in every walk of life.

   

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Photo of Dave Ramsey

Who is Dave Ramsey?

Dave Ramsey is the founder and CEO of the company Ramsey Solutions, where he’s helped people take control of their money and their lives since 1992. He’s also an eight-time national bestselling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show. After battling his way out of bankruptcy and millions of dollars of debt, Dave set out to change the toxic money culture for good—making it his company’s mission to provide biblically based, commonsense education and empowerment that give HOPE to everyone in every walk of life.

   

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Old photos of Dave

The Full Ramsey Story

When Dave was 12 years old, he asked his dad for some money to get an ICEE. His dad answered, “You need a job. You don’t need money.” So, Dave started his first business, Dave’s Lawns, and got to work mowing lawns in his neighborhood. That entrepreneurial spirit carried him all the way through high school, when he passed the real estate exam right after graduating. He got his Graduate, Realtor Institute designation at 19.

Then Dave went to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, working 40 to 60 hours a week to help pay for his degree in finance and real estate. After graduating from UT, he married an amazing woman named Sharon, and they moved back to Nashville. Dave started buying and selling real estate—and at 26 years old, he was rich. With all the money he appeared to have, he bought his dream car (a Jaguar), fancy jewelry for Sharon, and even a luxury vacation to Hawaii—this was the American Dream!

This was the American Dream! (or was it?)

But that dream soon turned into a nightmare. Dave’s “wealth” was nothing but a house of cards built on debt. He had borrowed up to his eyeballs, and once the banks started calling his loans, he had 90 days to repay millions of dollars. Dave tried hard to outwork all his money mistakes, but it was too late.

The Ramseys declared bankruptcy on September 23, 1988. That was the same day the sheriff was supposed to take all their furniture—including their daughter Rachel’s crib—to settle one of their many lawsuits. They had a new baby, a toddler, and a marriage hanging on by a thread. Sharon was terrified and furious. Dave was broke and broken.

After the bankruptcy, Dave had an "I surrender all" moment.

After the bankruptcy, Dave had an “I surrender all” moment. “I had met God on the way up, but I absolutely got to know Him on the way down,” he said. He handed everything over to God, including their finances. That decision changed their lives.

As time passed, people would ask how he’d gotten through such a tough time—and those conversations opened the door for him to start counseling others in their finances. Dave knew God had given him a passion for sharing His message of hope and that he could now help hurting people because he’d been there. He knew the heaviness of shame and the sting of regret, but he had escaped and could show others the way out.

An old photo of Dave hosting The Dave Ramsey Show

Starting the Show

In 1992, Dave launched a radio show called The Money Game on one struggling local station (for no pay). This show turned out to be a great way to help people with their money questions, and within two years, it became the top-rated radio show in Nashville. This would become The Dave Ramsey Show, later renamed The Ramsey Show—the nationally syndicated radio show, podcast and YouTube channel it is today.

And fun fact: The iconic tradition of the Debt-Free Scream got started around the year 2000 when a woman called in to The Dave Ramsey Show and was so excited about finally becoming debt-free that Dave could barely get a word in before she screamed “I’m debt-free!” at the top of her lungs. A few days later, another caller wanted to do the same thing, and eventually, Dave invited any listener who had ditched all their debts to call in or come to the studio in person for their own Debt-Free Scream. This has given thousands of families a powerful motivator and something to look forward to in their own debt-free journeys.

An older photo of Dave hosting Financial Peace University

The Books and Financial Peace University

The same year he got started on the radio, Dave wrote and self-published the book Financial Peace based on all he and Sharon had learned. He started selling it the old-fashioned way: from the trunk of his car. It soon became a bestseller.

Then, frustrated with lame, confusing, jargon-filled finance seminars, Dave created a practical class on money called Life After Debt, which he taught in person with an overhead projector. It was six months long, and the first class only had five families. Over time, the course was streamlined and updated to become the nine-lesson course we know today as Financial Peace University—and almost 10 million people from all over the world have taken it! That’s a lot of family trees changed and a lot of cut-up credit cards.

Dave went on to write other books too—including #1 New York Times bestseller The Total Money Makeover—and Ramsey Solutions has now published 23 bestselling books on everything from leadership to teaching kids about money.

An older photo of Dave hosting The Dave Ramsey Show, and a staff meeting photo at Ramsey Solutions

Starting Ramsey Solutions

When Dave started his early financial counseling sessions, his office was just a rickety card table in his living room. It was called The Lampo Group, LLC back then because “lampo” means “light,” and Dave wanted his company to be a light in the world (Matthew 5:14). While the name has since changed to Ramsey Solutions, that purpose and meaning is still alive in the company today. Ramsey has grown to more than 1,000 team members (including Dave’s three kids, Daniel, Rachel and Denise) and has helped people pay off a total of over $1 billion in debt and change their lives for good.

Many companies define success based on the dollars coming in, but at Ramsey Solutions, Dave defines success by the number of lives served: listeners who get out of debt, readers who take their first Baby Step and save $1,000, Financial Peace University graduates who invest for their future, and beyond.

A photo of Dave hosting The Ramsey Show with his daughter Rachel Cruze

The Ramsey Personalities

Dave has built a team of America’s top experts—known as the Ramsey Personalities—who are passionate about bringing hope and encouragement to everyone who needs it through their own books, shows, social media and live events. And after decades of hosting his radio show alone, Dave made the Personalities his official cohosts in 2020. What used to be a show focused only on money issues now covers every spoke of life from career to mental health to family and relationships, allowing them to serve as many people as possible.

Older photos of Dave and his family

The Full Ramsey Story

When Dave was 12 years old, he asked his dad for some money to get an ICEE. His dad answered, “You need a job. You don’t need money.” So, Dave started his first business, Dave’s Lawns, and got to work mowing lawns in his neighborhood. That entrepreneurial spirit carried him all the way through high school, when he passed the real estate exam right after graduating. He got his Graduate, Realtor Institute designation at 19.

Then Dave went to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, working 40 to 60 hours a week to help pay for his degree in finance and real estate. After graduating from UT, he married an amazing woman named Sharon, and they moved back to Nashville. Dave started buying and selling real estate—and at 26 years old, he was rich. With all the money he appeared to have, he bought his dream car (a Jaguar), fancy jewelry for Sharon, and even a luxury vacation to Hawaii—this was the American Dream!

This was the American Dream! (or was it?)

But that dream soon turned into a nightmare. Dave’s “wealth” was nothing but a house of cards built on debt. He had borrowed up to his eyeballs, and once the banks started calling his loans, he had 90 days to repay millions of dollars. Dave tried hard to outwork all his money mistakes, but it was too late.

The Ramseys declared bankruptcy on September 23, 1988. That was the same day the sheriff was supposed to take all their furniture—including their daughter Rachel’s crib—to settle one of their many lawsuits. They had a new baby, a toddler, and a marriage hanging on by a thread. Sharon was terrified and furious. Dave was broke and broken.

After the bankruptcy, Dave had an "I surrender all" moment.

After the bankruptcy, Dave had an “I surrender all” moment. “I had met God on the way up, but I absolutely got to know Him on the way down,” he said. He handed everything over to God, including their finances. That decision changed their lives.

As time passed, people would ask how he’d gotten through such a tough time—and those conversations opened the door for him to start counseling others in their finances. Dave knew God had given him a passion for sharing His message of hope and that he could now help hurting people because he’d been there. He knew the heaviness of shame and the sting of regret, but he had escaped and could show others the way out.

Photos of Dave hosting the show over the years

Starting the Show

In 1992, Dave launched a radio show called The Money Game on one struggling local station (for no pay). This show turned out to be a great way to help people with their money questions, and within two years, it became the top-rated radio show in Nashville. This would become The Dave Ramsey Show, later renamed The Ramsey Show—the nationally syndicated radio show, podcast and YouTube channel it is today.

And fun fact: The iconic tradition of the Debt-Free Scream got started around the year 2000 when a woman called in to The Dave Ramsey Show and was so excited about finally becoming debt-free that Dave could barely get a word in before she screamed “I’m debt-free!” at the top of her lungs. A few days later, another caller wanted to do the same thing, and eventually, Dave invited any listener who had ditched all their debts to call in or come to the studio in person for their own Debt-Free Scream. This has given thousands of families a powerful motivator and something to look forward to in their own debt-free journeys.

Photos of Dave teaching Financial Peace University and his book The Total Money Makeover

The Books and Financial Peace University

The same year he got started on the radio, Dave wrote and self-published the book Financial Peace based on all he and Sharon had learned. He started selling it the old-fashioned way: from the trunk of his car. It soon became a bestseller.

Then, frustrated with lame, confusing, jargon-filled finance seminars, Dave created a practical class on money called Life After Debt, which he taught in person with an overhead projector. It was six months long, and the first class only had five families. Over time, the course was streamlined and updated to become the nine-lesson course we know today as Financial Peace University—and almost 10 million people from all over the world have taken it! That’s a lot of family trees changed and a lot of cut-up credit cards.

Dave went on to write other books too—including #1 New York Times bestseller The Total Money Makeover—and Ramsey Solutions has now published 23 bestselling books on everything from leadership to teaching kids about money.

Photos of Dave hosting the show, and past and present photos of staff meetings at Ramsey Solutions

Starting Ramsey Solutions

When Dave started his early financial counseling sessions, his office was just a rickety card table in his living room. It was called The Lampo Group, LLC back then because “lampo” means “light,” and Dave wanted his company to be a light in the world (Matthew 5:14). While the name has since changed to Ramsey Solutions, that purpose and meaning is still alive in the company today. Ramsey has grown to more than 1,000 team members (including Dave’s three kids, Daniel, Rachel and Denise) and has helped people pay off a total of over $1 billion in debt and change their lives for good.

Many companies define success based on the dollars coming in, but at Ramsey Solutions, Dave defines success by the number of lives served: listeners who get out of debt, readers who take their first Baby Step and save $1,000, Financial Peace University graduates who invest for their future, and beyond.

Photos of the different Ramsey Personalities

The Ramsey Personalities

Dave has built a team of America’s top experts—known as the Ramsey Personalities—who are passionate about bringing hope and encouragement to everyone who needs it through their own books, shows, social media and live events. And after decades of hosting his radio show alone, Dave made the Personalities his official cohosts in 2020. What used to be a show focused only on money issues now covers every spoke of life from career to mental health to family and relationships, allowing them to serve as many people as possible.

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