I’ve taken a good number of trips in my life. In my teens I was fortunate enough to have ventured to Europe and spent time in Germany, London, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium. Across the U.S. I have lived in Los Angeles, Hawaii and New York. I’ve driven from coast to coast in the U.S., and have seen majestic sunsets in mountain and plain settings. My wife and I have together traveled to Florida, Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan, Charlotte, Charleston and the Mexican Riviera. And between you and I, they all paled in comparison to my recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee.
That’s right, yours truly ventured South recently to pay a visit to the man, the myth, the legend himself, Dave Ramsey, at Financial Peace Plaza. Since our marriage has now been a debt free one for almost a year (anniversary date on July 4th!) we decided to pay Mr. Ramsey a visit to share our success with him, and take in a live recording of his radio show.
I should have known from the second we pulled into the driveway that something great was going to happen, even now it gives me chills just thinking about it. As we parked in a spot, exited our vehicle and glared in awe at the house that Ramsey built, I began to notice a man who was walking to his car, and glancing coyly at me. After a minute or so of feeling his eyes on me, I decided to say hello, fully expecting him to ask me about where I was in the baby step process. I then imagined in that moment we would both share that we were debt free and working towards paying cash for a house, and then we would exchange hugs fit for bros and give one another enthusiastic high-fives. After I said hello, the man looked at me with a smile, and asked me probably the funniest question I’ve ever been asked in my life, “Aren’t you Jon Acuff?!?!” I would love to say that I rolled with it and asked him if I could sign a copy of “start” for him but instead I happily said no, but it does beg the question, is this the mug of a quitter?
As we walked through the entrance doors of Financial Peace Plaza, my wife took my hand into hers, looked into my eyes and said, “we made it.” And she was right. We had worked our tails off for three years paying off our $80,000 of debt and said we would venture to Ramsey’s studio when we did. And we were exactly where we wanted to be in life; together, debt free, in love and happy. So with misty eyes we walked through the entrance doors and immediately froze in our tracks, because the first person we saw as we walked in, was my personal hero himself, Dave Ramsey.
During commercial breaks Dave leaves his studio to meet with the financial pilgrim debit-fighting fans that make it to his headquarters. Yes I was as giddy as a child and yes I will remember meeting Dave for the rest of my life. I gave Dave a handshake and told him that his financial program saved my life, strengthened our marriage and that I could not thank him enough. My wife by passed a handshake and wrapped her arms around him in a big hug and I’m pretty sure she felt the same way I did. We captured the moment with this photo-op.
It was a culmination of things really that made this moment so momentous for me. For one I don’t have many heroes as an adult, or figures that inspire me. And to get to meet Dave and share my story, and for him to be so humble, to praise God int eh midst of it all, well meeting Dave was everything I could have imaged and then some. But I also crossed a psychological barrier during this. I realized, truly, how far I’ve come. I went form a clueless kid, and grew into a confident and capable financial samurai. And getting a better grip on my finances helped me learn to communicate and build my marriage into a great one, and it became the catalyst for me to become a better man. Through it I prioritize saving, live below my means, put plans in place and follow through on them, and most importantly – dream!
But that was only just the beginning of my trip to Nashville…stay tuned for part two…coming soon…