A good thing is a bad thing when it’s forced on you

Dave Ramsey is a good guy. His ministry has helped millions of folks get out of debt.

But my extended family has used him and his materials to beat my husband and I over the head for the past several years. We’re even doing Ramsey’s system, but that’s never enough. We get to hear allllllll about Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey, until we’re ready to vomit at the sheer mention of his name.

So last night, they cajoled and planned and arm-twisted until they got us to go to the Smart Money seminar, which was here in Phoenix. Late on a Wednesday night. They even offered to watch the kids while we went. So here’s how it went:

3:30. The boy I babysit is picked up early. We jump in the car and head to the family members’ who have forced us into this.

4:00. We arrive and drop off the kids. The family have added a stone stream bed to their front yard, as well as a new front walk and resurfaced the porch a bright sunflower yellow. We express wonder to each other about why work on the house like this if they’re moving.

4:30. We get to the park-and-ride metro down in Tempe. Parking is extremely expensive downtown, especially with a Phoenix Suns game, as there was last night. The train arrives about 4:38.

5:05. We arrive downtown. There are skyscrapers. There are weird traffic lanes. There is tons of window shopping. We eat dinner at a burger joint. There are far too many French fries involved.

5:30. We hike a couple of blocks down to the Symphony Hall, where there is a line of people around three sides of the building. They’re all holding Dave Ramsey tickets. Our hearts sink. The line begins moving as we get there, so we get inside fairly quickly.

6:00. We are seated inside plush, cushy Symphony Hall. It’s the kind of theater with a bottom level and a balcony, and it was sold out. We sat toward the back, under the balcony. There were smoke machines and a laser show.

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6:30. Dave Ramsey’s announcer comes out and starts the preshow. They advertise health care and life insurance. They play money-related games like the Price is Right. In general they keep the audience entertained. Ryan and I are moderately amused. We’re also somewhat concerned about the amounts of beer being consumed around us.

7:00. Dave Ramsey’s segment starts. The theater goes dark. There is an impressive light show via the smoke machines. There is a DVD intro for the “Smart Money” seminar thing. It’s slick. When Ramsey comes out, people are screaming and jumping up and down. I’ve been to concerts with less enthusiasm. And beer.

Ramsey says “Spend less than you make”, and that’s the extent of his wisdom. The rest we know from his various books/videos. He’s entertaining, but we don’t really learn anything. The crowd is completely fanboy.

8:00. One of his co-hosts comes on. He’s a black guy named Chris with a really deep voice, and I enjoy him on the principle that he hasn’t been shoved down our throats.

8:30. The seminar breaks for intermission. The class will resume at 9. We have a 30 minute train ride and a 20 minute drive back to get the kids, then another 20 to get home. We bail without remorse.

9:00. We are on the train, listening to people arguing about whether the speed of gravity is faster than the speed of light. Ryan and I listen and shake our heads at the sheer amount of stupidity. The main guy in the argument looks like Jack Sparrow, complete with beads in his hair.

9:45. We pick up the kids, who have spent 4 hours watching Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends. Apparently this is what the parent in charge deems entertaining. Second-youngest is asleep. We haul everyone home. I’m very glad to have my kids back.

10:15. We finally get home, exhausted.

This morning, my husband and I have tried to figure out the point of this exercise. We’re doing the Ramsey debt snowball thing. We’re managing our money with a budget. We own all his books. Why isn’t that enough? These relatives of ours will never be pleased with us.

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Even Dave Ramsey.

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