Story and photo by Dustin Senger
Dave Ramsey hosted a free financial seminar for servicemembers at Fort Carson March 25, the day before his sold-out “Total Money Makeover Live” event in Colorado Springs.
“We’re very pleased to have one of the greatest common sense financial advisers in our country here,” said Brig. Gen. James H. Doty Jr., acting senior commander, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, while introducing Ramsey to a military audience of more than 1,300 people.
Servicemembers, retirees and their spouses assembled in bleachers and folding chairs inside the Special Events Center to hear Ramsey’s advice. Most participants carried notepads; several held copies of the money expert’s best-selling books “Financial Peace” and “The Total Money Makeover.”
“I’ve seen so many Soldiers struggle financially,” said Sgt. Dale Harris, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., who had recently returned from a yearlong deployment to Iraq. “This kind of talk is what they need to get ahead … what parents need to tell you before leaving the house.”
“They call me ‘Dale Ramsey,'” said Harris, who frequently preaches Ramsey’s money-saving tactics to other Soldiers. He first heard Ramsey’s advice live in April 2009, after paying general admission to the World Arena. After formulating a plan with his wife, they spent the next 18 months clearing $19,500 of debt.
“We are happy to be here tonight and serve you guys, as you serve us,” said Ramsey, after the financial author, radio host and television personality walked onto the Fort Carson stage, greeted by loud applause.
“You guys have very unique struggles for handling your money,” said Ramsey, explaining that financial concerns are a top problem for military Families. Servicemembers are three times more likely to take out high-cost, short-term payday loans than nonmilitary populations, he said.
Excessive and unpaid debts often cause revoked security clearances and troubles in relationships, and other combat readiness issues, said Ramsey.
“Wealthy people tend to think in long blocks of times,” he said. “Poor people have short attention spans and make impulsive decisions.” He urged his military audience to avoid car loans, which triggered the clicking of hundreds of pens. Vehicles are the largest purchases that lose the most value, he said.
“I don’t do rich quick,” said Ramsey, a caveat to an upcoming list of consistencies witnessed in wealthy people. “If you do the things I tell you, it will work 100 percent of the time, eventually – it won’t do it by Friday.”
Ramsey outlined five money-management strategies, starting with “get out of debt, stay out of debt.” He said most millionaires have never leased a car and the best wealth-building asset is income, until debts are paid.
With a big grin, Ramsey held out a $100 bill. He waved the cash at the crowd to represent the monthly equity loss caused by car loans. He unfolded several more bills for credit cards: “if you cannot pay for it in cash, you don’t need it. Chop them up, close the accounts. When you start carrying more cash, you’ll spend less.”
“Act your wage,” he said. “Live on less than you make … spend less and make more. You are not going to build wealth spending more than you make. Don’t buy a second car if you cannot afford it.”
“Be on a budget – get on a written plan,” said Ramsey, clarifying that married couples must agree to an outlined household budget. “On paper, on purpose – you change it every month, for that month’s mess.”
“You must learn to save, you must learn to invest,” he said. Ramsey recommended saving three to six months of emergency funds to turn a crisis into an inconvenience. Most people are too quick to start saving and investing, he said. The hardest part is first getting out of debt.
“Give money away,” said Ramsey, laying out his fifth piece of financial advice at Fort Carson. “I don’t meet wealthy people, who are mentally healthy, that do not give.” He explained how an individual gave millions of dollars in real estate away to ministries and another left a $600 tip for a restaurant server.
“The most fun you’ll ever have with money is through systematic giving,” said Ramsey, adding that generous people attract good people. “The kind of person you are attracts opportunity.”
After a one-hour discussion, audience members lined up in front of the stage to ask military-specific questions. He reiterated the need for an emergency fund prior to a military separation, and then warned against buying a home while stationed in one place for only three years.
“It was really fun to see him – he’s so genuine,” said Corrie McClure, a military spouse who routinely listens to Ramsey’s advice on his radio show. “He put everyone at ease with his humor. You get more inspired with a group of people, where everyone is smiling, agreeing and nodding their heads.”