I have an unusual way of looking at the world. My wife, Sharon, says I’m weird and truthfully — I am weird. But there’s a reason. Starting from nothing, by the time I was 26 I had a net worth of a little over a million dollars. I was making $250,000 a year — that’s more than $20,000 a month net taxable income. I was really having fun. But 98% truth is a lie, and that 2% can cause big problems, especially with $4 million in real estate. I had a lot of debt — a lot of short-term debt — and I’m the idiot who signed up for the trip.
The short version of the story is that debt caused us, over the course of two and a half years of fighting it, to lose everything. We didn’t tell anyone what was going on, but if we had to do it again, we would learn from the wisdom of others who have been through it. We soon learned that we were not the only ones at the bottom. Barbie and Ken (you know, the couple who appear to be perfect—perfect clothes, perfect car, perfect house) are broke, and I don’t take financial advice from broke people anymore.
After losing everything, I went on a quest to find out how money really works, how I could get control of it and how I could have confidence in handling it. I read everything I could get my hands on. I interviewed older rich people, people who made money and kept it. That quest led me to a really, really uncomfortable place: my mirror. I came to realize that my money problems, worries and shortages largely began and ended with the person in my mirror. I also realized that if I could learn to manage the character I shaved with every morning, I would win with money.
I went back to my first love, real estate, to eat and to get out of debt. Along the way, I began another path—the path of helping others, literally millions of others, take the same quest to the mirror.
I formed The Lampo Group in 1992 to counsel folks hurting from the results of financial stress. I’ve paid the “stupid tax” (mistakes with dollar signs on the end) so hopefully some of you won’t have to. I wrote the book, Financial Peace, based on all that Sharon and I had learned, and I began selling it out of my car. With a friend of mine, I started a local radio call-in show called The Money Game, now nationally syndicated as The Dave Ramsey Show.
Our company history is full of landmarks including best-sellers on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly lists —and we’re not slowing down. The Lampo Group now has more than 400 team members and a variety of products and services to help you reach your financial goals.
Many companies define success based on the dollars coming in, but at The Lampo Group, we define our success by the number of lives changed: listeners getting out of debt, readers taking their first Baby Step and saving $1,000, FPU graduates investing for their future. We learned early on that if we help enough people, the money will come. Our mission statement isn’t just lip service—it’s our mantra.