I just got back from my volunteer stint in Tampa for the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover live event on September 6, 2008, and I am tired! I’ve been up since 5:45, and it’s now almost midnight. Needless to say, no workout today, and I was at the mercy of the benevolent TMMO volunteer management staff as far as food went because we weren’t allowed to bring so much as a bottle of water into the St. Pete Times Forum where the event was held.
My friend and fellow Financial Peace University classmate Colleen and I left Orlando around 7:30 AM and arrived at the venue in downtown Tampa just after 9:00 AM. We were given our choice of Large or X-Large volunteer t-shirts in the lobby (the early birds snagged all of the smaller sizes) and handed some pre-printed name tags, a TMMO Live workbook, and a voucher for one item (~$20-$30 value) from the Dave Ramsey product line. From there, we joined the rest of the volunteers on the stadium floor to get our general orientation regarding duties, meals, and the show, then split up for specific training on our assigned tasks.
While the primary duty of each volunteer was to man one of the many product tables selling FPU kits and non-FPU Dave Ramsey books, CDs, DVDs, software, and product bundles, some of us also were drafted to scan the tickets of incoming attendees, hand out pens, flyers, and workbooks, and sell bundled kits as walking vendors in the stands. At the end of the event, the women, armed with latex gloves and trash bags, were assigned to trash detail in the stands while the men packed up the remaining merchandise and loaded the boxes on the trucks.
We were given a lunch break around 1:00 PM when the event started, and dinner was provided at around 7:00 PM when the show was over.
All in all, the food was pretty good, and I survived the long gaps between lunch and dinner without collapsing in a heap. We were on our feet for much of the day (including many trots up and down the Forum’s back stairs and around the perimeter of the bowl), so I know that my total calorie burn was higher than an average sedentary work day even without dedicated exercise.
We were expected to man our product tables for an hour and a half prior to the start of the show, during the two 20-30 minute intermissions, and immediately after the show. The rest of the time, we were free to find our own seats in the stadium to watch the event ourselves. Because we weren’t limited to the paid seating areas, we actually got so sit VERY close to the stage at the front left.
The material covered was like a Cliffs Notes version of the same things I’ve learned in greater detail already in FPU and from the TMMO book, but it was really interesting to watch Dave Ramsey perform live and see how folks who were new to his personal finance philosophy reacted to his mix of humor, plain-speaking, and common sense–very entertaining as a whole. I’m sure he changed a lot of minds today about the nature of credit, debt, and sound financial practices. At the very least, he gave many people the hope that, however bad their money issues may be at the moment, there was a workable plan to get them to a better place within 2-5 years as long as they were willing to take responsibility for their own fates.
Now for the stuff you really wanted to know — What we got for donating our time!
As one of the cadre of over 100 volunteers, I scored:
- free admission to the show ($35 value) when I wasn’t passing out workbooks to entering guests or working at the book bundle table; we missed the first 30 minutes of the show while we were at lunch, and about 8-10 minutes before and after each intermission.
- a heather blue volunteer ringer t-shirt (size L) with “Live Like No One Else” printed on the back and a “Dave Ramsey Volunteer” logo on the front left pocket position
- a coupon for one $20-$30 value item from the merch tables (I got one of the deluxe envelope systems. Other options included a Financial Peace Jr. kit, a choice of one of DR’s books, $30 off the $99 FPU kit, the financial management software, and several other items in the same price range.)
- a box lunch (sandwich, chips, oatmeal raisin cookie, peach, and ham or turkey submarine sandwich) with ice water or iced tea
- a catered dinner (strawberry cheesecake, salad, bread, bean casserole thingie, seasoned new potato wedges, and sliced pork loin) with water, iced tea, and coffee
- the opportunity to chat with lots of other motivated people working through the same financial baby steps
- a real live handshake with Dave Ramsey himself, LOL! 😉 (He came around to greet and shake hands with all of the volunteers about 30 minutes before the doors opened.)
(Alas, no pics with the Dave since my camera was at the product table with Colleen when he came by to shake the hands of the volunteers handing out course materials at the entrance.)
It was a great experience overall, and very much worth the $15 in gas and parking money Colleen and I both chipped in for the trip.
Back to regular workouts (including a catch up back/bi/abs one) tomorrow morning!
I’m going to do my 100 Push Ups workout now and then hit the sack.
If you are at all interested in seeing DR live for free, and there is a TMMO Live! event coming to your town, look into volunteering like I did. The staff members are very cool and friendly, you’ll get to watch a good 80-85% of the show, you will be fed two meals, you will get to meet and possibly help a lot of folks on their journeys to financial prosperity, and hey–SWAG!
Some more random pics from the event: