Dave Ramsey

UT Knoxville, ’82

Dave Ramsey

Part of the Tennessee Alumnus’ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.

In 2014, when Dave Ramsey spoke at the Haslam College of Business commencement ceremony, he offered graduates a wealth of advice.

From his own story, he told them, “Find ways to make people’s lives better. Find a problem and fix it for people. Fix it for a whole bunch of them, and you’ll get wealthy.”

Ramsey is a Tennessee native who was born in Maryville, raised in Antioch and now lives in Franklin. His UT Knoxville bachelor’s degree is in finance and real estate.

His own story is often a teaching moment: By age 26, he’d built a rental real estate portfolio worth more than $4 million. Then the Tax Reform Act of 1986 dealt a blow to the real estate business, and Ramsey scrambled to pay debts. He ultimately filed for bankruptcy.

“Debt caused us, over the course of two and a half years of fighting it, to lose everything,” Ramsey says. “If we had to do it again, we would learn from the wisdom of others who have been through it.”

Ramsey decided to share what he’d learned—and his money-management empire was born.

In 1992, he founded the Lampo Group, now called Ramsey Solutions, to provide financial counseling and teach principles of proper money management. The company has nearly 600 employees and repeatedly has been voted one of Nashville’s best places to work.

Ramsey hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show, heard by 12 million listeners weekly on more than 575 radio stations across America and a variety of digital outlets. He won the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Marconi Award in 2009 and was inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2013 and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2015.

Ramsey and his wife, Sharon (Knoxville ’88), have three children, all UT Knoxville grads: Denise (’08), Rachel (’10) and Daniel (’14).