Monday was the day Maria and I have been waiting for. The day we got to go on the Dave Ramsey Show and do our Debt Free Scream! We practiced on our drive down to our long weekend in Nashville and again in the space of our rented bungalow in East Nashville (that time with Maria's iPhone recording so we could watch and critique our performance) just so we could be sure to get it right. I'm sure glad we did because even I got a little nervous knowing that my words were being broadcast all over the country at that moment. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let me walk you through our Debt Free Scream experience.
The Dave Ramsey Show is aired from a studio the first floor of Dave Ramsey's main building. Right when you walk in, you can see a big sign announcing that you have arrived in the right place.
Beneath the sign is a window right into the studio, so you can watch Dave as he hosts his show, interviews guests and talks to callers.
Directly across from the studio is Martha's Place, a little coffee shop that serves free coffee and treats to visitors, as well as selling many of Dave's books and resources. You can actually see the words “Martha's Place” reflected in the studio window in the upper right corner.
The lobby is always abuzz. Some guests come to scream “We're Debt Free!” and others come to meet Dave, see the studio and watch the Screams. When Maria and I arrived at the studio, the first couple of the day was just starting their Debt Free Scream. We talked to them afterwards and instantly connected. They were Scott and Addie, who had paid off $63,000 in 20 months. Imagine Maria's surprise when she learned that Addie was also a fellow Stitch Fix addict!
During the broadcast, Dave will occasionally come out of the booth into the lobby to meet with people, sign autographs and just say hello. Maria and I marveled at how he just bounced from broadcasting, to meeting five people rapid fire in the space of a couple minutes, and then heading back into the booth to resume broadcasting. The man is seriously focused and is “on” for every moment of his three-hour radio show.
Even though our Debt Free Scream wasn't for another forty five minutes, we couldn't resist the opportunity to meet the man himself! Maria got out our Debt Free Chart and brought it over to show Dave.
He loved it! We took a picture with him holding it up and then asked him to sign it.
If you are on your own debt free journey and want to visualize your progress, Maria made a customizable version of the On Our Way to Debt Free chart that you can download by clicking on the image below.
After taking the photo, Dave walked right over to a table to give put his John Hancock on our Debt Free Chart, complete with a reference to Romans, Chapter 12, Verse 2: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
I must say, in the couple minutes we spent with him right there, you could tell that he was a genuinely outgoing, personable and kind-hearted man. We were even more excited to do our on-air interview and Debt Free Scream now!
After talking with Dave, we headed over to Martha's Place to enjoy a cup of coffee. While there, we spoke with Dorothy, who runs Martha's Place now that Martha is retired. Dorothy was a lovely lady with a fascinating story of her own. She and her husband had been Dave Ramsey fans and FPU coordinators for many years. When Martha retired and her job opened up, Dorothy's husband encouraged his wife to apply for the job, even though they had to move out of state for her new employment. Talk about dedication.
Finally, after all our waiting and nervous anticipation, it was time for us to get ready. Kat is the person who gets the Debt Free Screamers set up and ready to go on the air, as well as managing the crowd of people in the lobby during the show. She brought us over to the door in Martha's Place where the Screamers stand, gave us our headsets and walked us through what would be happening. First, we had to wait for the commercial break to finish up.
While that was happening, the camera got set to record our Scream.
Then an announcer (Ken Coleman) came out to record a little teaser. The funny thing for Maria and I (which is why we are looking at each other like we have an inside secret) is that all this was going on and we could not hear a darn thing with those headphones on. We had no idea what was going on, what Ken was saying, nothing.
We didn't even know that our pictures were being broadcast on the TV in the lobby.
And then our interview with Dave started. I'd say it was just like any test I've ever taken. You get more nervous as the test gets closer, no matter how much you study for it. But then the teacher tells you to flip your test over and get started, you just do it. Nerves are gone and you put the pen to paper and start writing.
Dave was great. He was really easy to talk to. And, heck, this was our story. It's not like we haven't told our story a whole bunch of times. We're used to it at this point. So, we just talked. About how much debt I had and how I got into it.
About how we sold my house to help pay it off.
And how Maria put her savings toward my student loans.
And the excitement of making that final payment.
And then, it was time for our Scream. We started counting down: three,
WE'RE DEBT FREE!!!
And everyone watching in the lobby clapped and cheered along with us.
Oh, heck, why am I describing this when you could watch it? If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be an entire novel. Click the image below to see our interview with Dave and Debt Free Scream in their entirety!
Maria and I love re-watching that video almost as much as we love watching our wedding video. What an experience this whole thing was.
After our Scream, we stopped by the wall to sign our names along with so many other people who have reached their debt free goal with the help of Dave Ramsey. Apparently, there are so many people who have signed the wall, that they now have smaller pieces of plexiglass for people to sign and, when they're full, they put up a new piece of plexiglass and display the full one somewhere in Dave's offices.
At the next commercial break, Dave came out again to meet with us, congratulate us, and share a joke. I can't stress enough how nice a guy he was. We truly had a great time.
Going on The Dave Ramsey Show and doing a Debt Free Scream was like nothing Maria and I have ever done. Thanks so much to Jodi Southard for giving Maria (and thus me) the kick in the pants to apply for the Debt Free Scream, it was well worth it. We had a blast and it was a good excuse for a little vacation.
As a fun surprise, we decided to post a clip from one of our practice videos (yes, we did it more than once). We recorded it on Maria's iPhone in our Airbnb room while our host was downstairs, so we tried to be quiet so she didn't think we had completely lost our minds. It's a good thing we practiced because it took a few tries before we were finally able to get our numbers straight, as you'll see in the video. I hope you enjoy Maria's impersonation of Dave as much as I did!
We would like to thank Cody Harris of Cody and Allison Photography for taking these wonderful photos of our time on The Dave Ramsey Show. Cody was a pleasure to work with and, as you can see for yourself, quite talented. Also, fun fact, Allison is Cody's fiancé and Maria and I have special places in our hearts for couples that run a small business together. If you're looking for photographers in the Nashville area, Maria and I highly recommend that you check out Cody and Allison.
Our experience on The Dave Ramsey Show is one we will not forget. It's quite a journey we've been on so far and we can't wait to see what our debt-free future has in store for us.
You can read more about our journey out of debt by clicking on any of the images below.