7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2003
Mr. Ramsey has 'mixed it up a bit'. The straight forward way he presents this book keeps even the shortest of attention spans enthralled. Even the "Stupid Math" and "Myths" get you 'pumped up'. The greatest advantage to this book in contrast to the Revisited is that it offers REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE. This in-turn, give more REAL HOPE FOR LIFE! This isn't a book that just sits on the shelf. It's marked up, loaned out, and unlike most financial books READ!!! For some, you have to beat them over the head with the simplest of concepts. That is why he is on the air day after day, yes, after day. He is giving the same information but some still don't get it. There is always that one chance that one person will pick up this particular book or turn on the show....for the first time. You've just got to be brave enough to take that first step, "live like no one else..."
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 April 22, 2004
Wow! What a life-changing book. Dave Ramsey hit the nail right on the head. Getting out of debt and building wealth requires more than knowledge of what we need to do with our money, it requires agreement between husband and wife, and the determination to change.
If you have not purchased this book, I would suggest you buy it first in the audio form. My wife and I listened to it while driving the 45 mile trip to Lewiston, Idaho to purchase groceries. Not only was it good entertainment, but it brought us to agreement for the first time in over thirty years of marriage on how to handle our money. Yes, even preachers and their wives can argue over money, only that we call it intense fellowship rather than an argument.
Although I have immense respect for the late Larry Burkett, Dave Ramsey is a whole lot easier to listen to. Dave provides the motivation and the empathy that Mr. Burkett did not. I almost laughed until tears came welling out of my eyes as Dave told of his desperate attempts to keep his Jaguar despite going bankrupt. Dave mantra-If you live like nobody else, you will get to live like nobody else, got me to thinking about our spending decisions. It was sobering. My wife and I now write a monthly budget and are planning to be completely out of consumer debt within eighteen months. It will not be easy but we are determined that we are going to achieve the freedom that Christ desires for us. How in the world, can anybody be truly free in Christ, when they owe money to VISA and GMAC?
Any complaints? Yeah, I got one. I have yet to be convinced of his argument that a Debit Card is just as safe as a credit card. I often listen to consumer advocate Clark Howard on the radio, and he warns his audience almost daily on the dangers of these fake Visa Cards. Listeners call up and tell nightmare stories of being defrauded by unethical merchants or having their checking accounts drained by thieves and taking weeks, if not months to get their money back if they got their money back at all. I then asked my local banker if they would restore funds in my checking account if I were defrauded with my Debit Card and how many days that would take. My bankers reply shocked me. Not only would it take ten days to restore my funds, but if the thief got a hold of my pin number to drain my checking account the bank would assume no responsibility to restore my funds. Even if my pin number was locked in a safe at home and the thieves broke into my home, dynamited my safe and stole my pin number. Why? Because we are supposed to have that number memorized and not written down. Sorry Dave, I am going to follow Clarks advice on this one.
By the way, I am working intensely with my young families in the church trying to get each of them to do a total money makeover. They will retire wealthy if they follow through on Daves advice. This is truly a life-changing book.
on April 4, 2004
I never heard of Mr.Ramsey before. I found this book at the library and read it. It is a quick read once you decide to skip all the testimonials. He makes sense and good points. He tells you its your problem and he gives you a plan you can follow or not. His plan I think follows a path that makes you determined and helps you see progress.
Example: eliminating the credit cards from lowest to highest. This goes against common thought. But as he says. You wipe it out and put that money on the next and down the line. Seeing it happen is a help aid as well as good sense. Looking at what interest rates and all that stuff is plain dumb. Overcomplicates it if you ask me. But we are told that is what we need to do (I recall some finance clown saying Debt is necessary. Totally unbelievable). Take it from me. Doing from the interest angle or from highest to lowest don't work. I have never seen it work. You need more money to make the big money go away. Take if from the smaller payments. Simple math.
Debt ruins lives and marriages and families. Its a bad thing and we all know it. Kinda like being told smoking is really bad for you, we all know it, known it a long time, but people still do it.
Mr. Ramsey does a very in your face thing. He preaches,money saving, simple investing techniques and, when its all done, charity, he preaches good will, he shows that money is not for money's sake. That is unusual in a finance book.
I am going to try his methods. On paper it looks like it will work. So far. I got nothing to lose except debt.
For the record:I have even spoken to a debt free person who used his methods. He made a good point. "Ramsey wrote the book, I'm the one that lost the debt on my own."
on March 27, 2004
I have just finished the book and reading the reviews posted to date. The book is wonderful and provides the reader with a simple tool set to eliminate debt and build wealth. The book and the radio program are more importantly, MOTIVATIONAL.
We all know it's important to visit the dentist, but who wants to?
I take exception to those who criticise dave for "selling" and offering simple and sometimes misleading advice.
At least Dave is earning a living by helping others, can we all say the same?
Also paying off a low interest loan before a higher interest loan, while not mathematically correct, is motivational and helps to get the "snowball" rolling.
Motivation and simplicity is of value. This book is a tremendous tool that will better your life if the steps are followed.
For the "elites" who consider this book a lot of fluff, you have missed the point.
For those who want a chance at a better life for them and their family, buy this book now.
Oh yeah, I can't tell you how many times I've heard Dave offer free products and services to those in true need. Dave Ramsey is either the best actor on the radio, or a person who truly has a mission in life to help others. I choose to believe the latter.
And for the "Elites" out there, If you are so savy that you can condem this book and the motives of the author, why did you by the book?
on February 28, 2004
I enjoy discussions about my finances about as much as I enjoy talking about my weight. I certainly need to work on both, but I'd prefer to avoid the topics if at all possible, thank you very much. Can I get an "amen"?
Dave Ramsey, radio talk show host, author and all-around financial guru, is no stranger to this ostrich routine. After his own bankruptcy he came to the conclusion that the key to financial (and physical) fitness isn't knowing all the tricks of the money trade; it's being honest with yourself. "If I can control the guy in the mirror, I can be skinny and rich," he says in his new book THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER.
In other words, you have to get your head out of the sand. Okay, I have to get my head out of the sand.
Leaving the skinny to other books, Ramsey is a prophet to those who want to be rich but would settle for being financially stable. It's clear that this is a large group, given the popularity of Ramsey's radio show and books. After reading THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER, I can see why they flock to him for advice.
Ramsey's principles are simple and straightforward. Pay cash. Pay off debts from smallest to largest. Create an emergency fund. He provides easy-to-understand answers to many seemingly complex questions about budgeting, retirement funds, saving for college education, and more.
Large pullout quotes scattered throughout the book offer bite-sized financial advice and factoids in Ramsey's typically direct manner:
"A new $28,000 car will lose about $17,000 of value in the first four years you own it. To get the same result, you could toss a $100 bill out the window once a week during your commute."
"Looking to spend $100 per month on life insurance? You could pay $7 a month toward term insurance and invest the remaining $93. But go with a cash-value policy if you'd rather have someone else earn interest on your investments."
"49% of Americans could cover less than one months' expenses if they lost their income."
"If your mortgage payment is $900 and the interest portion is $830, you will pay that year around $10,000 in interest. What a great tax deduction! Right? Otherwise, you'd pay $3,000 in taxes on that $10,000. But who in their right mind would chose to trade $10,000 for $3,000?"
All of this advice is helpful and eye opening, but what Ramsey really excels at is presenting inspirational tales of those who were once, but are no longer, in financial disarray. Their stories make up at least a third of the book, and the cumulative effect is that of a published pep rally designed to get people pumped up about saving money. And it works.
This is a must-read book for anyone whose looking for a little basic financial information and a whole lot of courage to finally put away the ostrich suit.
--- Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel
on November 26, 2003
When my husband brought this book home yesterday, I asked, "Why in the world did you buy another finance book? How is this different than the half dozen others collecting dust on the bookshelf?"
The Total Money Makeover is completely different.
I was up all night reading this book and I now have a "plan" on how to attack our finances beginning with SERIOUS debt reduction. I have not read another book that provides a step-by-step detailed plan as Ramsey's does on how to tackle debt.
I have read other financial planning books that provided advice about retirement planning, savings and budgeting but the immediate problem for us was the truckload of debt that we had managed to accumulate throughout our undergraduate and graduate school experiences. The budgeting advice was fine in the other books, but they didn't explain HOW to budget so our debts could be effectively attacked and eliminated. I'm a detail-oriented person and I need a detailed game plan. The Total Money Makeover had a detailed plan along charts, graphs and goals that are easy to understand.
This book is so inspiring. It is the first time that I have read a finance book and thought, "Yes, I can do this!"
I would recommend this to anyone, especially those like us who feel that their debt is sucking the life out of them each month.
on November 7, 2003
My husband and I LOVE Dave Ramsey and his 7 babystep plan! We heard about him a few years ago when Financial Peace was *the* book to read, and got very serious about getting out of debt (got sick and tired of living with it). We got ourselves on a budget, and spent the next 2 years doing his babysteps 1 ($1000 emergency fund) & 2 (debt snowball) - in other words, got focused, and got rid of over $25,000 in debt, and are now debt-free (except for the house). We are now working on babystep 3 to build our big emergency fund. It WORKS! No, he didn't invent all of the stuff in his books (he admits that openly on his radio show), but he packaged it in a way to appeal to the average person. He tells you exactly what to do and in what order. If you follow it you can't lose! The Total Money Makeover is the best book yet! It covers not only the whole babystep plan, but also spends a decent portion of the book exploding the myths most people buy into. He also has lots of encouraging testimonies to keep you motivated. Dave is a tough love kinda guy. He has the heart of a teacher and knows that while the truth hurts, it also heals. Dave, you're a winner in our home! Thanks for all you do to help people become debt-free! Keep talking!!
on August 29, 2003
If you're thinking about passing on this latest book from financial guru Dave Ramsey because you've already read his first New York Times bestseller Financial Peace, think again. Financial Peace is "what to do." Total Money Makeover is a step-by-step, nuts and bolts "how to do" kind of book. Dave takes the seven key principles of a healthy financial plan from Financial Peave and gives them a shot of adrenaline and a ton of muscle! He walks with you through each of the seven "baby steps" and shows you exactly how to accomplish each one. Along the way Dave shares dozens of stories from people who are working on or have completed their own Total Money Makeover. The result is a book that could replace all others on personal finance. Reader beware: If you're looking for the next "get rich quick" book from a guy with a calculator and no experience, this is not the book for you. But if you want an uplifting and encouraging book that will show you exactly how to build true wealth and will give you loads of stories from people who have done just that, pick this book up today! Dave knocks it out of the park with Total Money Makeover, and your personal finances could be doing the same very soon.