Today’s guest post is from: Joe Plemon, a retired engineer, financial counselor and blogger, lives in Southern Illinois with Janice, his wife of 39 years. Joe likes online Scrabble, St Louis Cardinal baseball, blues music, power naps, high school football, short term mission trips and Sunday family dinners. You can read more from Joe at Personal Finance by the Book.
When Lakita learned that I am a Dave Ramsey certified counselor, she asked me to write a guest post about the training experience. Because it has been four years since I have had this training, keep these two caveats in mind: the curriculum has undoubtedly changed and my memory isn’t all that good.
I live less than four hours from Brentwood, TN, where Dave’s headquarters are located, so I had plenty of time to drive down and get checked into my room before our introductory session began at 2:00 on Tuesday. I met the other 45 members of our class and from that moment until our graduation at 11:00 Saturday, we didn’t have too many moments to call our own. But I wasn’t complaining. I paid for this and I wanted to get my money’s worth. I have no doubts that I did.
How much money?
$3,750. What did it include? My motel room, some of my suppers and all lunches, several great book giveaways, the training itself, and a lifetime affiliation with Dave Ramsey ministries as a certified counselor. This affiliation includes references for those who want counseling, a liaison rep I can contact any time I need help working with a client and email updates on current issues such as credit card reform, etc. Our class consisted of some who, like myself, were planning to be paid counselors and others who were going to be volunteer counselors.
What did the training consist of?
Everything! Or at least it seemed. Russ Carroll, our trainer, had been a full time counselor with Dave for many years, so he was highly qualified to teach counseling. Russ started each day with a great devotional and then jumped into the session. Because we were there to learn how to counsel, everything Russ taught us was focused on how we can help others with the information. Role play was a big part of the training, as we would practice counseling individuals and couples in all sorts of financial predicaments. Of course we would give or receive critiques from other trainees and then Russ would debrief us; explaining what we did right and how we could have done better. We even had a recorded session of an actual Russ Carroll counseling session with a married couple (piped into our hotel room TVs) as homework to watch in the evenings.
The training information covered what you might expect: retirement and college planning, understanding insurance, debunking debt myths, dealing with collectors, communicating with creditors, foreclosures and forbearances, various types of bankruptcies, investment guidelines, estate planning, living trusts, and estate taxes. We were also taught how to set up our own businesses, how to structure our fees and how to market ourselves. Of course we got to keep the 3 ring binder which contained every detail of our training. I still use it for reference info.
Did I meet Dave Ramsey?
Yes, but I am sure he doesn’t remember me. Dave did come into our class a couple of times to say “Hi” and encourage us. He also taught one session and shared in our informal lunch every day (meaning that whoever wanted to sit next to him was welcome to do so). Of course we each got the obligatory photo of Dave presenting our graduation certificates to us. We had a great view of his radio show studio right across the hall from our training room (and Dave doing his radio show when it was live). I understand that Fox paid to upgrade the studio for Dave’s nightly show on Fox Business, but that happened after I was there.
We also got to meet Dan Miller, career counselor and author of “48 Days to the Work You Love” and “No More Mondays”. Dan was very gracious and spoke for about 30 minutes. If you are not familiar with Dan, you need to subscribe to his blog 48days.net.
Just being at the Lampo group (The Name of Dave’s Business) headquarters was a memorable time. The team spirit was infectious as we met person after person who enthusiastically believed in and reinforced the Lampo Group Mission Statement, “The Lampo Group, Inc, is providing biblically based, common-sense education and empowerment which gives hope to everyone from the financially secure to the financially distressed.”
I went because I wanted to be able to give financial hope to others. I came away with the tools and the inspiration to be able to do that. It has been four years now and I have been able to give that hope to many, many people. I plan to continue to do so as long as I am able.