on January 15, 2012
I must admit, I was pretty cautious when I first picked up Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover. It's not a particularly threatening book - it's just that the cover has a similar effect to receiving an unsolicited sales email. There is a picture of him staring into the camera with an all-knowing gaze. Everything is green and red and gold ' money, money, money. The caption, all-caps: "Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people have become debt-free ' here's how you can too." It's not exactly subtle.
Upon digging into the information, it's pretty useful stuff. It's not so much a technical manual for places to cut costs as it is a motivational book to refer to when times get tough. Dave writes in a refreshing, conversational manner, and begins by bringing the low-down on various "Money Myths." He discusses the reasons that playing the Lotto won't make you rich ("Lotto and Power Ball are a tax on the poor and people who can't do math"), why pre-paying anything isn't really worth it, and why bankruptcy is hardly ever a good option.
From here, Dave takes the reader through the extremely simple "Baby Steps" which make up the meat of the book:
Create a $1000 emergency fund while paying the minimums on every debt. Make sure it's liquid. Budget hard.
List all your debts ' every last one. Pay them off in order of smallest to largest, regardless of interest rates. This is to keep you motivated as you gather "small wins" on the road to being debt-free. Any mortgage shouldn't be listed here, but student loans should, according to Dave.
Finish your emergency fund. Bump that sucker up to three to six months (or more) of living costs. Ramsey says this value is $10,000 +-, depending on if your income is steady . If you're in a contract position, at risk of losing your job, or self employed, more money is better.
Invest 15% of your income in your retirement. Don't fatten your kids' college funds first. That was something I definitely thought about the second I saw my Student Line of Credit balance. Ramsey says, "your kids' college degrees won't feed you at retirement," and he's right.
Fund your kids' college. In this step, Ramsey talks about how the number one rule of going to college is to pay cash. He really rails against borrowing ("Student loans are a cancer") and at times even seems against the idea of going to college if you can't afford to pay up front. My parents had not set me up with a college fund, so I thought debt was the only way to do it.
Pay off the mortgage. Straightforward.
Get super rich. At this point, Ramsey says, "You are not Mastered by a Card, you have not Discovered bondage, American Excess has left your life." He urges us to use our money wisely ' have fun, invest and give.
Ramsey peppers the book with a bit of religious gospel coupled with the financial stuff. It's not intrusive at all and shouldn't be a deterrent to any open-minded individual. I do not count myself as a member of the Christian faith, but the Bible verses included were relevant elaborations on the concepts in Ramsey's book.
Some of the advice in the book directly contradicts the math of what's going to save you the most money - logically and on paper, that is. At first I thought this idea was preposterous, but upon further consideration I realized that the math doesn't really matter at all. If it's just a matter of math, all we need to do to be rich is simple subtraction, making sure our incoming money outweighs the outgoing money. Chances are, if you're reading this blog or this book, you know the math but haven't been keeping up so well on the motivation part. This book is a psychological push in the right direction for managing your finances, and as such it should take up a place on the bookshelf of anybody who cares about their finances.
I didn't learn anything particularly technical from the book, but it's all well-grounded common sense. Ramsey drives home the point that rich people don't get rich by knowing any well-kept secret. He says that having stable finances comes from being able to stay motivated while putting very basic concepts into practice. Total Money Makeover is a great place to start getting your finances in order.
on May 30, 2011
Occasionally for work, I travel around the city and have the opportunity to hear the Dave Ramsey Show on the radio. I have always appreciated his no-nonsense, sometimes very blunt and straight-forward responses to people who call in to his show with money questions, so I thought that I would purchase his book. I am so glad that I did. I should mention at the outset that this book is essential for the married couple who may occasionally or regularly argue about money and finances. My wife and I both read this and while we have read many personal finance books, this one really moved us to create a budget and start looking at our debts, and even though we don't have that much debt, the process to get rid of it is very helpful.
As Ramsey says, none of the ideas in his book are new and revolutionary, much of it is common sense, but it is compiled with many, many real life personal examples and illustrations which drive points home. As expected, he is against credit card usage in any way, and part of the getting out of debt plan is to have a means of forced savings and also creating a budget. None of this is new. However, the way he puts all this together in an easy to follow plan with timelines, is extremely helpful for those who understand the principles but are not sure where to begin. As a result of this book, my wife and I are able to discuss finances much more openly and collaboratively and we have implemented Ramsey's plan and I can tell you, it is like night and day, once you start following the plan.
Further, his discussions about cars and how to buy cars / avoiding leasing, etc., as well as his chapters on college tuition and retirement are helpful, interspersed with regular steps on avoiding getting into debt in the process. Several of his examples made me chuckle and his frankness really helped to underscore the need to start acting on his plan NOW.
My only point of irritation in his book (and this is not isolated to his book) is in the chapter(s) on investing and planning for future retirement. While he indicates that traditionally the stock market has returned 12% on investment (which seems a bit high as most books will assume 8% return), his focus on both the power of compound interest and using mutual funds to make money, does not contain all the information needed, particularly for a novice or new investor. He, and other investing folks, need to mention that compound interest on mutual funds only occurs if the mutual fund pays out a dividend/distribution, and most of them do not. So the numerical growth charts can be a bit misleading.
Overall though, this book was one of the best values I have received from my Amazon.ca purchases. I have already bought a couple more of Ramsey's books and look forward to reading them.
on February 10, 2014
This book is ideal for someone who just wants to tweak a particular aspect of their finances, or it does just as well for the person who has never learned how to manage money. You learn that money management is a skill, can be learned, and will get you where you want to go in life. The book gives you everything you need to learn the basics, and provides information on where to get the tools to do it; e.g., budget sheets.
What's more, this man is you and me. He has been there and done that. For some, like Dave Ramsey, experience is the best teacher. The fact that he is able to turn it around and share it with us, prevents many of us from making the same mistakes, continually. He stops us in our tracks.
on June 17, 2012
If you are a novice about finances books may be you will gonna say nothing new in this book.But for me its a great read,very helpful,i read different books about finances but this is one of the best,it change my perception about money,and i learned a lot from him. I also recommend Gail Vaz- Oxlade books,all of it are good too its hard to put it down.