Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall For Hope Review


My wife and I just got back from attending Town Hall For Hope at our local church.  We tuned in for an hour and a half, along with around 250 other people, to watch Dave Ramsey host the event live from Oklahoma City.  Although it contained no new, magic formula or special insight to solve our current economic woes, I found it to be a very uplifting event. It was more of a back-to-basics pep rally, which was made extremely entertaining by Dave’s unique style, wit, and humor.

Actually, I was surprised it wasn’t a little more political.  They did an amazing job of keeping the message focused on “hope” and not on bi-partisan bickering.  If you’ve ever heard Dave speak, you know he’s a walking, talking quoting and referencing machine. He was at the top of his game tonight.  I would wager that he quoted or referenced forty or fifty different books and/or famous sayings.  Most importantly I found myself continuously laughing out loud, which always does wonders for bringing out the true spirit of hope.

Before we dig into some of the meat and potatoes of the actual webcast.  You should head on over to the newly updated Town Hall For Hope Website. They’ve got some of the main content up on that site and I’m sure they will be releasing the video at some point down the road.

How We Got Into This Mess

Dave started by first reviewing how we got into the current situation we are in.  His basic point of view was that over the last 25-30 years we got sloppy in dealing with all of our prosperity.  I couldn’t agree more. He also threw in one of my favorite Dave Ramsey’s quotes:

“Even a turkey can fly in a tornado!”

He later reviewed how the Bush administration had decided to engage in “Bailout Stupidity” and how the new administration just decided it should “Stimulate Stupidity,” which of course drew a big laugh from the audience.  Again, it was good to see him dishing it out to both parties.

A Background On 20th Century Economics

I wish a little surprised when Ramsey switched tones and starting talking about 20th century economics.  He started by giving a brief overview of John Keynes meeting with FDR and the resulting American polices.  He then argued that the majority of the success of Keynesian economics actually was a result of the start of World War II, which boosted the United States economy after a year or so.  Ramsey then pointed out Milton Friedman’s believe that the Great Depression was a result of government mismanagement and not failed economic theories.

He also admitted he’s a huge fan of capitalism, but not the type of capitalism that has been going on in recent years.  He sighted that success in general relies equally on Political Stability, Economic Stability, and Moral Restraint.  It was the latter that was missing over the last few years of our history.  He even finished by quoting Ghandi:

“Commerce without morality will destroy us.”

Thoughts On Failure

Dave segues by giving his opinion on what should happen to a restaurant whose “food is cold, service is bad, and prices are high.” As he so eloquently puts it:

“We shouldn’t bail you out…  You’re freakin’ lame!”

He points out that we are adults and need to start acting like it.  He said we need to get to a point where we can love people enough to let them fail. When we create a culture where no chance of failure exists, then no one has any reason to do their best.  Lastly, he talks about reintroducing “NO” into our culture. I can’t say I disagree with any of these points he made.

Personal Responsibility

Ramsey talks at length about stepping up and taking responsibility for our own problems.  He discusses he own failures early on in his real estate career.  He reflected on how he whined for about the first 6 months, until a good friend sat him down and pointed out it was his fault and his responsibility to learn from it and bounce back.  As he quoted, his father used to say:

“You shot it Tarzan…  You eat it.”

In addition, any listener of Ramsey before knows he proudly interjects his faith into everything he does.  I’m not super motivated by this aspect, however I certainly appreciate someone who is able to really stand up for what they believe.  He does also keep it in perspective:

“Prayer is not an excuse to do nothing…  You can pray while you’re working.”

Audience Questions!

Somewhere a little after the halfway point, Dave started fielding questions from audience members, phone callers, Facebook messages, tweets, and texts.  By the way, the guy who moderated called tweets, “twitters.”  Completely unacceptable if you ask me!

Note:  Questions and answers are all summarized based on my notes

Is this our generation’s Great Depression?

  • Dave discussed how this is nowhere near the Great Depression.
  • Outlined how it wasn’t even the worst recession (pointing out 1973 and 1982).
  • Discussed how only an additional 3% have lost jobs, yet 47% say they are scared of losing their job.

The Stock Market seems scary, what other options are there?

  • Dave sites that 100% of 15 year periods in the stock market’s history have been positive.
  • Don’t invest using a “Thank God It’s Friday” – “Oh Crap It’s Monday” attitude.
  • Continuing to invest based on faith in American companies over a 15 year period.
  • Believes the market is artificially low due to “fear”

When will home prices rebound?

  • Economic forecasters exist to get weather forecasters credibility.”
  • However, Dave thinks housing will actually lead us out of the recession.
  • 60% of the foreclosures are in 5 states.  Some markets are doing very well.
  • Great time to buy a house, if you are debt-free with an emergency fund, etc…

How can a single mother start investing?

  • Walks through the baby steps
  • Dave talks about how he doesn’t bank with large institutions, because they’ve lost their souls.
  • Bank with credit union and local banks so you can still “find someone where you can get your hands around their neck.”

Is huge inflation coming?  What can we do?

  • “I’ve been hearing the end of the world predicted for years”
  • However, if we don’t reign in government spending we will see big-time inflation

What do you think about Gold?

  • Gold is the Snuggie of the investment world…  It’s sold on midnight cable and if you buy it, it’ll make you look silly.”
  • Gold is volatile and averages low returns over time.
  • In a “failed economy,” no one uses gold.  Goods and services are the currency in emergencies.

Is this a good time to start a business?

  • It’s a really tough time, but also a really fantastic time to start a business.
  • All the “duds” are out of business and only the “studs” remain.
  • Be prepared for a fight, but when the economy recovers it’ll be worth it.

I’m 55, how do I catch-up on retirement?  [From Greenwood, IN… Woot Woot!]

  • Don’t make decisions when emotional or when chasing quick results.
  • Take it slow and use your income as your greatest wealth building tool.
  • Take advantage of special benefits of investing over age of 50.

When is the job rate going to improve?

  • Jobs are a symptom and not the actual problem
  • Jobs will come naturally after the economy bounces back and shouldn’t really be the focus.
  • Don’t wait on the economy or your government.  Adjust your attitude and go attack the job market.

How close are we to a cash-less society?

  • Although we’ve certainly become more digital, not really that close to being cash-less
  • Not a sign of the end times.

3 Steps For Those Struggling With Hope!

  1. Get Up! Take action.  Get moving.  At least start doing something to get some momentum.  “There’s a great place to go when you’re broke…  To work!”
  2. Don’t participate in loser talk! Surround yourself with positive influences and people.  Studies have shown your net worth is usually within 10% of the average of your 10 closest friends.  “The average millionaire can’t tell you who got thrown off the island.”
  3. Learn to give again! America is #1 in giving, but we can do even better.  When you give, you take the focus off yourself, which does wonders for hope.  We as a country can give the government out of business.

Conclusion and thoughts from friends…

Overall, I felt it was well worth my time.  I think Dave is a fascinating speaker and genuinely cares about changing people’s lives for the better. I think this type of media is an amazing venue for any idea and/or speaker.  It’s awesome to see so much energy and enthusiasm built around a common cause.

Kyle over at the Suburban Dollar is also posting a review at the same time this morning.  I strongly suggest you stop over and check out his thoughts on the event, as well.

NOTE:  After posting this I’ve also found some other great reviews from my friends around the community.  For more perspective, check out Free Money Finance’s review and Gather Little By Little’s review.

In addition, I received an e-mail from an Joe Ingersoll, a Man Vs. Debt reader, whom also leads a local group here in Indianapolis called Indy Debt-Free Dads.  Joe writes:

“Here are some of the highlights that I took away from this evening’s Town Hall for Hope:

  • It’s okay to fail.  Failure is healthy, and the possibility of failure pushes us towards greatness.
  • The best place to go when you’re broke is to work!
  • Some of our biggest and brightest companies were started during the previous recessions.  Microsoft, Dell, Wal-mart, Hobby Lobby, Chick-Fil-A, just to name a few.

3 things you can do to get involved right now:
1. Get Up & Take Action – Don’t rely on Washington D.C., or anyone else to solve your problems.  Take control of your future, your money, your household, your economy.
2. Stop Listening to Loser Talk – Avoid negative people that suck the life out of you.  Surround yourself with positive people that will lift you up and hold you accountable.
3. Start Giving – Giving of our time or money changes our mindset.  When we take our eyes off of ourselves we become more selfless and selfless people make better spouses, friends, employers, employees, etc.”

Did any of you attend Town Hall for Hope?  Have you talked to anyone who has?  What are your thoughts?  Share with everyone by commenting below!

26 thoughts on “Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall For Hope Review”

  1. I enjoyed reading this and I’m glad that there are a lot of positive messages to take away from what seemingly is being hyped up by the media and our friends as a fear-filled, horrible time to live. In the larger scheme of things, it definitely doesn’t look that bad.

    I would tend to shout a big “Amen” to bailing out stupidity. How long can we do it and where is the money coming from? But I’m not here to debate politics…

    Finally, I completely agree with the stock market being depressed by fear. That’s why I’ve thrown a large amount of my retirement and personal savings into leveraged index funds that will hopefully rebound even faster than the rest of the market.

    Thanks for the awesome review!

    Wojciech @ Fiscal Fizzle’s last blog post..Optimizing Your Contact With Money

  2. Good write up this event was full of ideas that could be discussed for a long time.

    I thought he hit keynesian economics pretty hard.

  3. Thanks for the overview! I love Dave Ramsey’s one liners. I got a laugh out of ‘Gold is the snuggies of the investment world…” 🙂

    Philosophically, I agree with Dave Ramsey, especially when it comes to personal responsibility and taking a look in the mirror. I disagree with him on the politics (Keynes vs Friedman). But, that’s a story for a different day. 🙂

    Cathy’s last blog post..Financial Network Maps Roundup

  4. That is a great review. I think they were holding one of these in my neighborhood. I totally agree with Dave about the bailout and that people (and businesses) need to be left alone to fail so they can actually learn something. I still makes me angry that greedy people getting bailed out could end up with a lower mortgage interest rate than me because I did everything right and bought something I could actually afford.. Annoying.

    Honestly, Dave annoys the crap out of me and on the rare occasion that I have turned on his show, I usually end up switching it off because he just makes me angry how condescending he is to people. I know some people probably need to hear it, but he still annoys me. I used to listen to Dave in the early 90s when he was only on local radio and he was a different guy, let me tell you.

    But, off that soapbox…he does have a great message and has helped a ton of people.

    MB’s last blog post..Following Your Heart

  5. “60% of foreclosures are in 5 states”. Out of curiosity, what is the population of those 5 states? If it’s 60% (which I don’t think is mathematically possible), then this wouldn’t be surprising (it would be expected, as it would be proportional). I’m assuming the states are California, Texas, NY and some mixture of other big states (I’ll guess Ohio and Michigan).

    kosmo @ The Casual Observer’s last blog post..10 tips for novice bloggers

  6. Man Vs. Debt

    If you don’t mind:

    1) if anyone is interested I did a REALLY REALLY BASIC Keynes 101 post (and trust me I even explained it to the wife who hates this stuff!):

    2) Kosmo:
    Here are the five (as of Feb 09)

    My Journey’s last blog post..Colleges are the Next Big Bubble to Burst

  7. @Kosmo: Top 5 states are California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and I think Michigan. That makes up ~25% of the US population

  8. I thought the show was wonderful and informative. Does anyone remember the book Dave said to read. I know one was Who Moved My Cheese, but he mentioned another one that I can not remember. Thanks for your help.


  9. Does anyone know the name of the book that was recommended by Dave on this show.
    I heard Who Moved My Cheese, but there was another book he recommended that I missed the name of? If anyone knows, please reply. Thanks, Anne

    1. Jeff pointed out above that he also mentioned “48 days to the work you love” by Dan Miller. He also mentioned his other book “No More Mondays!” In fact, you can enter for a chance to win the first one this week on my Free Book Giveaway Thread.

      Thanks Jeff for reminding us!

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    1. I agree that a lot of these principles transcend personal finance, altogether. By the way, thanks so much for stopping by from 31DBBB… I absolutely love what’s Darren’s doing!

  12. I think Ramsey is quite good at what he does best, and that’s training and counseling individuals to live within their means … and that means, “free of debt.” Indeed, we are 10 weeks into his 13-week Financial Peace University at our church. In the past, we had only worked Dave’s approach to family finances about 65-70% of the way — but now we’re trying to seal the deal and take it all the way: no credit cards, month budgets on paper, saving like fiends, etc.

    Unfortunately, Dave he falls flat when he bad-mouths precious metals as “stupid.” His mantra that “metals are never used in the barter economies that follow disasters” is a straw man argument (though somewhat understandable, given that some metal and coin dealers seem to imply that metals will be money when the feces hits the fan).

    Precious metals shouldn’t be bought/held primarily for a “social meltdown” scenario, but as an historically-reliable store of value.

    A couple of ignorant things I’ve heard Dave say recently about precious metals:

    • “They have no more intrinsic value than a shoelace.” (IOW, precious metals only have value because man assigns it value and does so arbitrarily — we could just as easily assign similar value to dirt!) I’m utterly amazed that Dave doesn’t grasp fundamental principles of value found in precious metals such as world-wide recognizability and desirability, ease of divisibility and transportability, and high value in relation to volume and weight.

    • “Precious metals haven’t been a medium of exchange since the Roman empire.” This is simple ignorance of history. What does Dave think the value of US currency was pegged to — by law — until 1971? (Not to mention the fact that US quarters, dimes, and dollar and half-dollar coins were 90% silver until 1964!)

    It is a paradox that, while preaching so faithfully against personal indebtedness, Dave won’t/can’t preach against our government’s indebtedness and the central-bank-issued fiat currency that aids and abets it. Dave is a Bible-believing Christian, and the Bible vehemently condemns theft by the use of unjust weights and measures, which is precisely what fiat currency is: “faith-based” money that is backed up by absolutely nothing and which results in that most insidious and invisible of taxes: inflation.

    (Oh, incidentally, Dave has defined “inflation” as the increase of prices due to variables such as supply and demand. Yes, prices do indeed fluctuate as a result of supply and demand, but that is not inflation! Inflation is an increase in the money supply — i.e., the amount of money in circulation — at the hands of central banks and government-run printing presses and computers. When more money is pumped into the system via the printing press or electronic credits, it devalues the money already in circulation. Prices increases are merely in response to more money chasing the same amount of goods. Thus, long-term price increases are not inflation, but rather they are a symptom of inflation. The best example I can point to is the recent artificial boom in home values earlier this decade. This was the direct result of the ease with which more and more people were able to get loans. I.e., more money — in the form of credit — chasing after a fixed supply of houses. Greater demand = price increases.)

    For a different — and more reliable, IMO — take on our current economic mess, I would urge you to spend some time reading the articles and watching the videos of Peter Schiff. Just Google him … you’ll find him. Like Dave, Peter is also “anti-debt” — but a few years ago, he predicted the current financial mess based on the fact that Americans and their government borrow endlessly to buy things they simply cannot afford. I.e., rampant consumerism and seemingly endless lines of credit.

    BTW, Barry Broome wrote an excellent piece at his DebtPrison.net blog last year: “Dave Ramsey, Peter Schiff, and decline of U.S. Economy.” Broome also likes Dave alot — he features one of Dave’s books right at the top of his home page. But by way of comparison to Peter Schiff, he levies some fair (and gracious) criticism of Dave’s economic presuppositions. The article is great in itself, but be sure not to miss the 80-some comments that follow — lots of valuable insight there, as well.

    I love Dave for what he does well, but he has a ways to go to understand the government-monetary-policy basis for the dire straits in which our nation currently finds itself.

    Frank in Spokane’s last blog post..You don’t say …

  13. We hosted the Town Hall for Hope in a state in desparate need of hope – Michigan. We were pumped afterwards, but sometimes you have to wonder, “what did other people think?” After we cleaned everything up, I went to pickup our daughter from the neighbors. The event had ended 20 minutes prior and already our neighbor had heard – third-hand – how great it was and how much one of her freinds had gotten out of it.

    So yeah, I’d say it was pretty awesome. I was realy only disappointed when it ended. I could have watched for a few more hours!

  14. “When is the job rate going to improve?

    * Jobs are a symptom and not the actual problem
    * Jobs will come naturally after the economy bounces back and shouldn’t really be the focus.
    * Don’t wait on the economy or your government. Adjust your attitude and go attack the job market.”

    Point #3 seems to be wholly contrary to Points #1 & #2. First he says “it’s the economy, stupid!”, then he says “it’s you, you lazy bastard!”.

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