Three Things I Learned as a Dave Ramsey Financial Coach

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I am excited to have Mr. LifeOnFire.tv guest post on my blog about his experience as a Dave Ramsey financial coach! Mr. LifeOnFire started with a negative net worth and is now on the road to financial independence!

LifeOnFire’s experience is an inspiring story and will help you stay motivated to reach your goals!

Introducing: Mr. LifeOnFire.tv

Let me tell you how in the course of three years, I accidentally paid off $230,000 in debt, became a Financial Coach, and shook Dave Ramsey’s hand!

First, let me introduce myself. I go by Mr. LifeOnFIRE, and I blog anonymously about Financial Independence over at LifeOnFIRE.tv. There, you can find additional personal finance strategies, book recommendations, tips to save money, and more!

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Accidentally Paying off Debt

Using the Dave Ramsey method, my wife and I paid off $230,000 in debt in just under seven years. The funny thing is, we didn’t set out to get out of debt, we stumbled on his class by accident!

Unbeknownst to us, the course was offered at our church. One night, before class started, a friend of ours grabbed my wife and told her she needed to go with her to class. I had some other commitments so I couldn’t join her. However, I later went to pick her up and was able to watch the last 10 minutes or so of the lesson.

After class, my wife was trying to decide how best to talk me into taking the class. At the time, we had only been married for 8 months. How do you say to your new spouse, “I know you’re handling the finances, but I’m not sure you know what you’re doing,” in a nice way? Well, she didn’t get the first words out of her mouth before I said, “we’re in!”

In case we missed a class, the facilitator handed us an audio CD kit. The CD’s must have contained 13 hours or so of audio. I binge listened to them ALL in the span of two days!

Becoming a Financial Peace University Instructor

Needless to say, we were hooked! Our course facilitator took note of our enthusiasm and progress during the course. I sold my sports car and paid off several thousand in debt.

They approached us in the last week and asked if I wanted to help teach. For me it was a no brainer. I love to help others and I wanted to keep expanding my personal finance skills!

I went on to teach the course over the next seven years, while we worked to pay off our student loans and our primary residence. 

Meeting Dave Ramsey

When Dave traveled to our area for a Financial Peace seminar, we received an invitation to a private session for his top coaches! In that session, we enjoyed a nice meal, received some SWAG, and a lot of thanks.

He shared the future direction of his organization, new product launches, etc.. He also spent time at each table talking with the coaches. I was very thankful for the opportunity to speak with him, shake his hand, and say thanks for the inspiration and the instruction.

By that time, we had enjoyed a near $300k change in our financial position and were almost completely out of debt. My wife and I had toyed with the idea of traveling to Nashville to do a debt free scream, but after meeting and speaking with him in person, we felt we had scratched that itch!

I taught at Financial Peace University for 7 years. Over that time I picked up on some very clear trends. I want to share three of my favorite takeaways:

  • There is always an opportunity cost
  • Partnership in marriage is very important
  • You need a “Why”

Opportunity Cost

I mentioned earlier that we made the decision to sell our sports car. The choice was simple when I looked at paying out $30,000 over the next 5 years versus cutting a $10,000 check to get out of the debt.

When you consider the opportunity cost of paying $635/mo in car payments, or investing that same money in mutual funds, the better choice is clear!

For example, let’s use Dave Ramsey’s Retirement Calculator at his iconic 12% rate of return. Moving the $635/mo car payment over to an investment is worth $2,219,302 over 30 years!

Once I understood this concept, I began to look at everything this way. For instance, if the opportunity cost of $635 a month, over 30 years, is $2,219,302, then the opportunity cost of $6.35 is $2,219,302/100 or $22,193.

Taking that to an extreme, you find that the opportunity cost of ONE DOLLAR per month is nearly $3.5k!

As a financial counselor for seven years, I had the chance to see the opportunity cost concepts play out in the lives of my students. For the young, I saw the delight in their eyes when they realized they could retire wealthy if they could stay committed to their goal.

The more experienced classmates tended to use their own life stories as a testament to the young to make wise choices. At the same time, they realized what they needed to do to course correct and get things back on track.

Partnership in Marriage

Being a FPU instructor allowed me to provide guidance to individuals with very high incomes as well as those with no income. Regardless of income, one very clear predictor of success was the body language of the couples in the room.

You can always spot the reluctant spouse, because they found reasons to be on their phones, they took frequent breaks, and they “couldn’t make it to class.”

Very predictably, these couples never gain traction on their finances. Dave famously shares a quote from his grandmother: “People convinced against their will, are of the same opinion still!” Singles usually did better, as they typically took the course by their own volition. 

Just as easily as you can pick the reluctant spouse out of the room, you can spot the couples that are going to win with money. These couple are engaged and ask good questions. They come to the class, having done the homework. They build each other up in the language they use to describe themselves.

Working with so many people on their finances really taught me the importance of choosing your spouse well. You may have heard the old adage that you need to ensure you and your prospective spouse are aligned on money, faith, raising kids, and how close to live to the in-laws! It is so true!

It is very difficult to win with money if you’re married and moving in opposite directions. Don’t lose heart though if this describes your situation, as there is hope!

You need a “Why”

One way to break through the financial stalemate in a marriage is to find a common “Why.” I have counselled quite a few couples over the years. More often than not they come to me with differing ideas on what they should do with their money.

The ones who are successful are able to talk it out and find a shared goal for the future. Once they do this, everything clicks into gear and they are able to really transform their lives!

I am fortunate to have married up. My wife is incredibly supportive and our goals for the future are 100% aligned.

For that reason, we have been able to go from a starting -$130k net worth, to now over $1.5M in just 13 years. I share that, in hopes to motivate you to change the dialog with your spouse.

Take these lessons of opportunity cost, the power of shared goals, and defining your why and go transform your financial future! 

Your Turn

Now, we want to hear from you:

Which of the topics, did you find applicable to your life? Opportunity Cost, Partnership in Marriage, or You need a Why? Do you need a Dave Ramsey Budget?

Let us know by leaving a quick comment!


  1. Excellent article!
    I love how the opportunity cost of a single dollar highlights the impact of even the tiniest decisions. Plus the partnership on marriage as a great indicator of success regardless of the income. That’s why getting our partners on board willingly is more important than winning every battle ❤️🙏🏼

    1. Thank you for your comments. A firm understanding of opportunity cost can really help drive good good decision making when faced with those every day life decisions! My wife is not as firmly rooted in the math as I am. Nonetheless, she is often the one to question each and every expenditure. So important to leverage each others strengths to magnify your outcomes!

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