Thursday, April 8, 2010

Channeling Financial Advice

I was driving home from work one day surfing the a.m. radio dial when I came across such a mishmash of messages that I stopped in my tracks. A talk show host named Dave Ramsey was talking about everything from mutual funds to Jesus Christ. On the one hand, he was chastising callers for falling to their impulses. On the other, he was encouraging them to do better.

I listened to Ramsey for the next two weeks as sort of a goof. It was like an audio train wreck that I couldn’t turn away from. In retrospect, I think there was a pretty good reason I was drawn to Ramsey’s show.

Ramsey talked about living within your means, including driving used cars and eating rice and beans. He also talked about paying cash, tearing up your credit cards and building up an emergency fund. He talked about having the right kinds of insurance at the right price. It was commonsense stuff. As Ramsey would be the first to admit, it’s the kind of advice you’ve probably heard from your grandmother or read in best-selling books like The Millionaire Next Door. But Ramsey has an interesting “rags to riches” history and a compelling way of telling the story.

At the time I was listening to this, I was doing pretty well. I had a job I liked making decent money. Nevertheless, his message resonated with me. It wasn’t a goof anymore. I started worrying about things like an emergency fund.

I tried to get things in order. All the while, the program served as a daily booster shot. When people called in with the wrong priorities, I shared Ramsey’s frustrations. When people called in with success stories, I was motivated to join them as debt free.

Later, I lost my job. As it turned out, I needed Ramsey’s message even when I didn’t know it. Having that emergency fund paid off in spades. Boy was I happy that I found that quirky little program.

In the years since, I’ve lost touch with Ramsey’s show. But now, having lost a second job, I’m thankful I never lost touch with his message.

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