“This is the best time on the planet to be graduating.”


The was the message personal money-management expert and national radio personality Dave Ramsey underscored in his message to University of Tennessee, Knoxville, graduates on Friday.


Ramsey, who graduated from UT in 1982 with a major in finance and real estate, was the guest speaker at the College of Business Administration’s commencement ceremony.


He was also there to watch his son, Daniel, get his diploma. Now all three of Ramsey’s children are UT grads.


“This is probably one of the most fun days of our family’s history,” Ramsey said backstage, relaxing with his family before the ceremony. “Just to get to speak at a UT commencement, having graduated from here, is a huge honor. But to get to do it on the day my son is walking, wow, how special is that?”


The financial guru offered plenty of tips for new graduates.


For those with student loans: “My suggestion is that you continue to live like a college student. Don’t go buy a new car, buy a new house … Don’t buy anything. Keep the beanbag chair. Get yourself out of debt. Get six jobs. Sell everything in sight. Work like a crazy person. The faster you get rid of those student loans, the faster you’re going to have a life.”


For those looking for jobs: “Job hunting is not about filling out applications anymore. The days of filling out an application and getting hired are gone. Job hunting is about a connection of some kind. It’s not the good ol’ boy network, it’s just a network.”


For doing a job interview: “When you walk in the door, you’ve got about 30 seconds to make your impression. Have some poise. Look people in the eye. Have confidence. Learn how to shake a hand. Wear a belt. Take a shower before you go.”


Ramsey scoffed at negativity about the economy and job market.


“The opportunity is in the marketplace and if graduates will use the skills they got here, at UT, to go get that opportunity and find ways to serve in the marketplace they’ll create jobs, they’ll create businesses. It’s there. Stuff is popping up all the time,” he said. “Eighteen months ago Instagram wasn’t even there. It just sold for a billion dollars. Don’t tell me there aren’t opportunities. Don’t tell me there aren’t jobs.”


Ramsey continued offering advice during his commencement address, talking about the qualities that make people successful: integrity, continued learning, perseverance and a belief that people matter.


“There’s a difference between learned and being a learner. Learners become successful people. The learned park themselves and their knowledge becomes obsolete in a world that is changing at light speed.”


Brain power and elbow grease are required.


“You’ve got to get up every day, leave the cave, kill something and bring it home, baby,” he said. “Nobody cares how pretty you are. You better bring effectiveness to your organization.


“You better bring it. You are entitled to nothing.”


And, finally, he said, the most successful people are those who care about others.


“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 was born in Maryville, Tennessee, and grew up in Antioch, Tennessee.


His New York Times best-selling books—”Financial Peace,” “More Than Enough,” “The Total Money Makeover,” and “EntreLeadership”—have sold more than 7 million copies combined. He and his daughter Rachel Cruze co-authored the newly published bestseller “Smart Money Smart Kids.”


In 1992, Ramsey founded The Lampo Group Inc. to provide financial counseling, through various means, to anyone who wants to better understand the principles of proper money management. The company now has more than 400 employees and has been voted one of the Best Places to Work in Nashville five times in a row.


Ramsey is the host of a nationally syndicated radio program, “The Dave Ramsey Show,” which is heard by 6 million listeners each week on 500 radio stations across America. In 2009, he was honored as the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award winner.


Ramsey has been married to his wife, Sharon, for over 30 years. They have three children: Denise, Rachel and Daniel. The family resides in Franklin, Tennessee.