Dave Ramsey Takes Insane Call from Couple with Nearly $1M in Debt: 'I'm Getting Ready to Destroy Your Life'


Newlywed Channing called financial adviser Dave Ramsey’s radio show and said she and her husband were nearly a million dollars in debt.

On the video feed of the program, Ramsey’s response was a frown.

Channing wanted to know how to straighten out their finances without filing for bankruptcy. She was 29 and her husband was 32.

Ramsey, a longtime financial solution guru, teaches simple steps to people who want to get out of debt. Some have noted his techniques might not be the most traditionally accepted form of financial advice, but they’re sterling methods of behavior modification that have turned around the finances of thousands of people.

Ultimately, Ramsey looks at the heart of the problem, which is often a problem of the heart.

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Back to Channing and her husband, who called “The Dave Ramsey Show” four years ago.

After learning that the couple’s debt included a $210,000 mortgage (not bad for the D.C. area, where they lived), $335,000 in student loans (both have advanced degrees), $35,000 in car loans, $136,000 in credit card debt and $44,000 in personal loans, Ramsey responded.

He wasn’t subtle.

Hearing that the couple, with a $230,000 annual income, acknowledged the mess they were in and were scared, Ramsey said, “You’ve been living at about 10X where you’re gonna get to live for the next three years.”

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“So, I’m getting ready to destroy your life as you know it,” he said. “Because your lifestyle is considerably above your extremely good income. And has been for a period of time.

“And so you’ve gotten used to spending like you’re in Congress. This is going to be very emotional for y’all. And you’re going to have to look at it through that lens and through a spiritual lens or you’re not gonna make it.”

Ramsey told Channing she and her husband would have to stop caring about what anyone thinks — “including each other.”

“Because you’re not going to spend any money on anything — ever — for the next three years,” he said.

“You’ve been making $210,000, spending $310,000,” Ramsey said. “I’m getting ready to put you on $30,000.”

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Ramsey made a statement similar to what he frequently says to people struggling with debt, that they won’t see the inside of a restaurant unless they work there.

“This is how humbling this is going to be. It’s gonna crush a lot of crap in your soul that caused you to do this,” he said, adding that the bad news was how difficult it will be but the good news was that “it’s going to be great for you guys, relationally, spiritually and financially.”

“But you’re not gonna make the financial unless you make the relational and the spiritual move,” he said, “because I know that — I know you guys because I was you guys. This is exactly what I did.”

Ramsey often refers to highly leveraged real estate deals he did while in his 20s and how he lost everything when his loans were called in. To Channing, he admitted: “I bought and purchased a lifestyle that was 5 to 10X what I had.”

“And it was all because of crap I had inside of me that caused me to do that,” he said. “And all of that has to be destroyed to fix it.”

About the time of his bankruptcy, Ramsey became a born-again Christian and came to see the truth of Scripture about debt: The borrower is the servant to the lender.

As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Since he embraced that perspective, Ramsey has consistently preached against debt and put together a step-by-step program to help people eliminate debt, invest more and give more.

“This is not a math problem,” he told Channing. “The math problem is the symptom. The problem is what’s going on inside of you guys.”

“The lens by which the problem will be solved is through spiritual contentment,” Ramsey said before quoting 1 Timothy 6:6: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

“Translation — you’re going to pull up at a stoplight driving a piece of crap car next to people that have an income a fourth of yours with a nicer car than yours,” he said.

“And you’re not going to care. That’s gonna be the cool part.”

Dave Ramsey knows his stuff. And he’s helped untold numbers of households in changing their finances and changing their lives.

Several decades ago, after my wife and I tried all kinds of ways to get out of debt, seven years of following Ramsey’s principles enabled us to pay off credit cards and two pieces of real estate, including our house.

And they go beyond “Ramsey principles.” They are teachings rooted in Scripture.

Here’s hoping Channing and her husband were able to apply those teachings and have now emerged from deep debt.

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.