Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Total Money Makeover Live

A few months ago, Dave Ramsey had a deal on tickets for his Total Money Makeover Live! show in Long Beach, CA. I scored two tickets for $14.50 each during one of Dave's one-day sales. So yesterday M and I woke up bright and early to make the two hour trip to the Long Beach Convention Center despite gas prices approaching the $5 mark. The event began at 1pm but doors opened at 11:30. We parked the car at 11am and took our place in the already forming long line to get in. When the doors opened we were able to find great floor seats right behind the VIP section (typically priced at $69 each).

Although the official event started at 1pm, the emcee Joe Leavitt (one of Dave's team members) came out on stage around noon and promptly began warming up the crowd by giving out $300 to one person and $500 to another. Nothing like seeing hundred dollar bills being passed out to get you motivated!! Next Rachel Cruze (Dave Ramsey's daughter) came out and talked to the crowd about growing up in the Ramsey household. My favorite story was when she ended up bouncing three checks and was told by Dave to apologize to the head of the bank for what she had done. For some reason, hearing that Dave's kid had been less than perfect with their finances made me feel a little better.

After Rachel wrapped up her story, Jon Acuff of Quitter fame entertained the crowd with his story of eight jobs in eight years and his never ending search for work he could be passionate about. He talked about how this is the "I'm, But" generation - where most people say "I'm a teacher, but I really want to be a ____". Everything he said really hit close to him and seemed to resonate with many in the audience.

Then at exactly 1pm Dave Ramsey came out on stage. And with the exception of two twenty-minute breaks, went through the Baby Steps and his Total Money Makeover philosophy for the next five hours.

The Positives.
Dave is an exceptionally dynamic speaker. Dave is simply an excellent speaker - passionate, intelligent and entertaining. His presentation includes a giant screen so everyone can see him up close, and also a slideshow presentation for all to see. In addition, you are given a workbook with fill-in-the-blanks to complete as he talks. If you are seeking motivation, this is the place to find it.

High energy message. If you want an intense introduction to the Baby Steps and haven't taken Financial Peace University, this is the place for you. Be prepared for a six-hour immersion into Dave's world of finance. Dave's upbeat message would be difficult not to take home with you.

The audience. I found that speaking to the people around me about their financial stories was almost as motivating as listening to Dave speak. People from all walks of life were there to better their lives. A couple in line with me talked about beginning Dave's program and buying tickets to the event, but then ending up with the guy being laid off soon after. But they were still upbeat and hoping for a better financial future. The couple sitting behind me had been working the baby steps and were now focused on paying off their house in the next five years. It was motivating to be surrounded by people with similar goals and know that you're not alone in your successes and failures.

The Negatives.
Sponsors Constantly Pushing Their Wares. If Dave wasn't talking about the Baby Steps, then somebody else was trying to get you to buy a book, open a checking account, or put all your gold into a plastic bag and send it away for some cash. Standing in line, walking around at the breaks, or just sitting in your chair you will be constantly bombarded by some type of sponsor deal. Although some of the items being promoted may help some of the attendees, it just seemed so excessive that many people (including myself) end up feeling irritated rather than motivated.

Session Length. This is a looonnnnggg day so be prepared. I found it a little difficult to focus the last two hours and I could tell the rest of the audience was also a little restless. Needless to say, you will get your money's worth, especially if you can score some of Dave's lower-priced tickets.

Overall Score: B+
Despite the infomercial style and 6-hour long session, I think it was time well spent. Dave lays out a clear and attainable path to debt freedom that has worked for many people. He also may create the spark in you and your family to help you get started on improving your finances.

Dave's next Total Money Makeover Live! events will be held in Denver on October 25th and Seattle on November 7th.

Have you attended a live Dave Ramsey event? What did you think? Would you recommend it to anyone?

Stay tuned,

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