Whether it's radio, television or print, Dave Ramsey is honest and direct, sharing the financial gospel. A master money manager, Dave's always enjoyed earning a buck.
"I always loved work. Some kids are wired that way I guess," said Ramsey.
In fact, Dave started a lawn care business at age 12.
"I had 20 something yards to cut up and down the street. I had a profit loss statement."
He didn't have to look far for business sense.
"My parents were entrepreneurs. They were in the real estate business. So they always told us hard work was part of the equation to win."
Dave started his college career at MTSU and then moved to UT Knoxville.
"I got my real estate license three weeks after I turned 18 years old. I was just out of high school and started selling real estate while I was in college."
After college, Dave continued selling real estate. And boy, were banks lending.
"I was deeply in debt. I ended up with about 4 million dollars worth of real estate, a little over a million dollar net worth making a couple hundred thousand dollars a year by the time I was 26."
Then, the bank called his loans.
"We spent the next two years of our life losing everything we owned."
A young family in bankruptcy, Dave was desperate.
"I started reading everything I could get my hands on as a new Christian about what the bible has to say about money... people like Larry Burkett."
And a budget was a new concept.
"I didn't see the problem with debt. We were always taught debt was a tool. Use it."
He began using basic, biblical principles.
"Stay out of debt, be on a budget, give money away, help other people with your money, save money, live on less than you make. These aren't tough principles. Everybody understands them, but I just didn't do them."
Dave's new habits began to work.
"It started kind of loosening up for us."
Dave started counseling others, teaching sunday school and selling real estate to eat.
"And then I started doing this little talk radio show on this bankrupt radio station, which is the irony of ironies, our show started on a bankrupt radio station."
Slowly, the audience grew.
"So me and this other guy moved the furniture out of my living room and started a little counseling business based on that."
And, the Lampo Group, Inc was born. An overnight success? Hardly!
"It's been so gradual that it's not overwhelming. We've won death by a thousand cuts."
Overtime Dave and his team developed new products and tools to help hurting people find financial freedom and spiritual guidance.
"And I wouldn't been able to do that had I not gone through the pain."
A painful process, yes, but well worth it. Now, 20 years later, a million families are graduates of Financial Peace University, 4.5 million radio listeners tune in weekly for advice and, four of Dave's 15 books are New York Times Best Sellers including his newest release, Entreleadership.
So, life is good and Dave lives it to its fullest. And, he holds true to his volunteer roots.
"We don't hardly miss a UT home game. It's part of who we are, the fabric of the Ramsey's."
Dave Ramsey, born in Maryville, HomeGrown in Tennessee.
"The media world has almost demanded that I leave Nashville, but truthfully, I like New York about 3 days at a time and then I've got to come home. It drives me nuts. And, Los Angeles is even worse."