What I learned at Dave Ramsey’s Smart Conference!

Click through to read what I learned at Dave Ramsey's Smart Conference!

Have you ever had a moment when everything suddenly clicked?

Lately, I’ve been feeling disconnected from my family and friends, and just down generally.  I’ve been praying for wisdom, so I would know what I could do to feel better.  And two weeks ago, as I was praying, these words entered my head:

Put down your phone.”

I thought to myself, “That’s good advice,” and then I checked my Facebook page again.

For the next few days, I began to notice how many hours I was spending staring at my tiny lit screen.  Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit were consuming obscene amounts of my time – and they were wasting most of it on gossip, political fear mongering, and ridiculous pictures of cats.  And in the background were my children, waiting for me to join them in a game or just envelop them in attention and love.

I felt awful.  But I didn’t put the phone down.

The voice didn’t go away though.  “Put your phone DOWN.”  “You don’t need to look at it.”  “Put it in the drawer and walk away.”

I wanted to change my behavior, but I didn’t know how.  Would it take time?  Did I want it enough?  Would I have to hit rock bottom, and what would that even look like?

Thankfully, I don’t have to find out.  I’ve learned how true change happens – and it doesn’t take time, a ton of desire, or even, thankfully, hitting “rock bottom.”

Last Saturday, Chris and I attended Dave Ramsey’s Smart Conference here in Los Angeles.  Throughout the day, we waded through an ocean of wisdom from eight different speakers that ran the gamut of expertise – from marriage and raising kids to money and retiring with dignity.  There’s no way I could synthesize everything we got out of the conference into one blog post (unless it was a few dozen pages long), but I can tell you what affected me the most.

First, I should say that none of the speakers addressed social media or the Internet explicitly.  But, as I listened to each speaker, I found that I was able to apply their wisdom to my problem.

One after another, each speaker came onstage and offered common sense to the crowd.

Rachel Cruze, who writes and speaks about raising kids to be smart with money, taught us that kids are much more likely to follow your example than to do what you tell them to do, especially if you aren’t doing it yourself.  As she put it, “More is caught than taught.”  That hit home for me.  Someday my children will be old enough to have their own phones – do I want them turning the tables and ignoring me when I want their attention?

Then Emerson Eggerichs took the stage, and gave Chris and I profound advice about how communication breaks down in marriage.  As he stated, men are most powerfully motivated by respect, and women are most powerfully motivated by love.  When couples argue, communication breaks down because without love, a wife reacts without respect, and without respect, a husband reacts without love.  It’s called “The Crazy Cycle,” and it severely damages marital relationships.

The key to ending the cycle is to decode – to try to understand where your partner is coming from and what they intend to communicate.  Emerson’s daughter, Joy Eggerichs, underlined what he said, then discussed the unique challenges millennial couples face today.

This advice is invaluable for Chris and I – who, like all married couples, argue from time to time.  If your marriage could use a tune-up – or if it’s in deep trouble – you should check out Love and Respect Ministries.  It could save your marriage.

Dr. Henry Cloud spoke about setting clear boundaries for yourself in relationships.  He teaches that boundaries clarify the law of sowing and reaping – in other words, when clear boundaries are set, consequences can follow behavior.  As he put it, “Love respects ‘no,’ control does not.”  That got me thinking: what are my boundaries on social media?  We all are only given a set amount of time each day – do I really want to give that precious commodity away to political demagogues and gossip sites online, without getting anything back in return?

Then Dave Ramsey spoke and discussed all of the benefits of being on a written budget.  Chris and I started keeping a written budget several months ago, and I can say from experience that initially, it felt like we were given a raise.  We’d had no idea how much money we were wasting every week, and now that we know what we’re spending, it’s a lot easier to be frugal.  I can say for certain that our written budget was the main tool we used to afford my decision to stay at home with our kids.

When Chris Hogan took the stage, he emphasized the importance of saving for retirement.  If you aren’t saving any money for the future, you must start as soon as you can.  Most people don’t, and when it comes time for them to consider retiring, they find that they can’t afford it.  I don’t know about you, but I want to have options when I hit my golden years.

If you start right now, you will be able to afford to retire!  Check out Chris’s calculator to get excited about what you can do!  And remember – it’s never too late to start saving!

At this point, I’d already learned a lot, and I had considered my conference ticket money well spent.

Then, Andy Andrews came on, and he rocked my world.

The first thing he said that spoke to me was this: “Our thinking determines our choices.”  In other words, our belief systems determine the choices we make.  That forced me to ask myself, “At my core, what is my thinking around social media?”  My answer came quickly: social media allows me to stay connected to friends and family.

But does it really?

For some, it can, but for me, it doesn’t.  I’m much more likely to feel connected to my loved ones after a phone call than after reading an Internet post.  The only times I get anything deeper than surface level communication on social media is when a friend announces their marriage or pregnancy – and I don’t need to spend more than five minutes on social media to get the news.

Andy’s second point helped me figure out what to do next.  He discussed how true change happens, and how it doesn’t.  Although most people believe change occurs through time, desire, or hitting rock bottom, that isn’t the case.

True change occurs when these two questions are answered:

1. What’s in it for me?

2. What’s the proof?

So I asked myself, if I stop wasting my time each day on social media, what’s in it for me?

More time to play with my kids.  A mind less cluttered with gossip and useless information.  More opportunities for meaningful interactions with my family and friends.

Then I tackled the second question.  Could I prove this to be true?  In that moment, I wasn’t sure.

As if on cue, parenting expert Dr. Meg Meeker took the stage, and gave me my answer.

In her words: “Good parents ask the right questions.  Rather than asking how many activities their kids should be in or what school they should go to, they ask how much time is my child spending face-to-face with me.”

Hearing a renowned pediatrician telling me in person that my kids have a deep need for face-to-face time with me was all the proof I needed.  I deleted the Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit apps from my phone the next day.

I’ve decided since then to set clear boundaries around social media so that I don’t get lost on it again.  Basically, any time I spend on social media will be purposeful – and if I don’t have an important reason to be online, then I won’t be.

Have you ever had a moment when everything suddenly clicked for you?

For your information: This is not a sponsored post.

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7 thoughts on “What I learned at Dave Ramsey’s Smart Conference!

    1. Rebecca Post author

      It was one day – from morning till early evening with a lunch break. Absolutely worth it – worth every penny plus more. Would have paid double the price, honestly.

      1. Gaby

        Hello I’m going to the conference in Los Angeles. I’m planning my evening accordingly. Would you say this conference lasts until 5pm or earlier ?

  1. Pat

    Appreciate the article above; however, most of the advice provided by these “experts” can be found in the Bible. The difficulty is going to a church which actually teaches the Bible.

    Oh yeah, church usually is free to attend weekly and sometimes more often…a real bargain compared to some offerings.

    I saw the trap of social media quickly after watching my wife dive into it as soon as FB came online mid 2000s. Too much time wasted and too little getting done in the realm of responsibility.

    If you go back to the garden of Eden in the Bible, the Woman listened first because Satan knew that she is a follower and the Man is the leader. Every good general knows you must find the weakness of the leader to best over take him. Satan didn’t waste any time.

    My advice is this. Go to a good church that teaches the Bible, spend time focusing on it. If you tell me that it isn’t practical, then I question your heart, or your ability to read…one of those isn’t working.

    Regarding Dave Ramsey, he is a salesman; I have listened to his messages for several years off and on. I am not impressed as he has a general answer for everything and when a special circumstance arises, he tends to shorten the call and move on, simply restating the “baby steps.” Think about that term….”baby steps.” Do you see a problem? If you need “baby steps” then you are a BABY!

    Public education, milquetoast churches, Dr. Spok, Freud, Timothy Leary, etc… have resulted in a culture that leaves young people today with no reason to live, so why not simply play the choking game.

    1. Rebecca Post author

      Your comment is a little scattershot in philosophy – I agree with some of it and disagree with a lot of it. First, in relationships, the Bible says that when it comes to men and women, we are called to “submit yourselves to one other.” And when it comes to godly women and their husbands, the Bible also says “the heart of her husband safely trusts her.” So clearly there is some shared leadership going on. 🙂

      As for Dave Ramsey, there is nothing wrong with being a salesman. And he has changed many lives for the better. You have to consider the medium – he’s on the radio taking phone calls. He isn’t going to have time to go into depth on one call, but he takes lots of different calls on similar subjects so he can discuss different angles on the same issue. And everyone needs baby steps when they are changing their lives and implementing good habits.

      I’d be very careful about falling into fear and anger when it comes to our culture. I’ve been there. We should be sharing the gospel in our lives with love and compassion. That doesn’t mean we change the message – but we have to remember that Jesus loves everyone – and those we disagree with are not our enemies. Anger will only alienate.

      Take care!

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