The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness Info

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New York Times bestseller!
More than Five million copies sold!

You CAN take
control of your money. Build up your money muscles with America’s
favorite finance coach.

Okay, folks, do you want to turn
those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to
transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash
machine? Then get with the program, people. There’s one sure way
to whip your finances into shape, and that’s with The
Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition.

By now, you’ve
heard all the nutty get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that
leave you with a lot of kooky ideas but not a penny in your pocket. Hey,
if you’re tired of the lies and sick of the false promises, take a
look at this—it’s the simplest, most straightforward game
plan for completely making over your money habits. And it’s based
on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies. With The Total Money
Makeover: Classic Edition, 
you’ll be able
to: 

  • Design a sure-fire plan for paying off all
    debt—meaning cars, houses, everything
  • Recognize the 10
    most dangerous money myths (these will kill you)
  • Secure a big,
    fat nest egg for emergencies and retirement!

Includes new,
expanded “Dave Rants” sidebars tackle marriage conflict,
college debt, and more. All-new forms and back-of-the-book resources to
make Total Money Makeover a reality.

Dive deeper into Dave's game
plan with The Total Money Makeover Workbook: Classic Edition.
The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition
is also available in
Spanish, transformación total de su dinero.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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65795 Ratings

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Reviews for The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness:

5

May 13, 2018

Save $1000 Pretty straight forward
After years of hearing and reading about The Total Money Makeover, I finally grabbed myself a copy and read the whole thing in one night. While I would not call myself a Dave Ramsey fan, there was definitely value in the book. He has 7 steps he suggests moving through:

1. Save $1000

Pretty straight forward. You need a bumper for the small emergencies. Shit happens.

2. Debt Snowball

The debt snowball approach is something quite valuable that took reading about in this book to fully grasp and get behind. It’s quite simple in its brilliance actually. You make a list of your debts from smallest to biggest (excluding mortgage) and focus all of your financial effort on one debt at a time (making only the minimum payment on all others), working your way down. Once you cross one off, you divert all the money you were paying on that debt to the next, with the payment size growing at each step. We only had 2 debts (1 car loan and the consolidated student loans) so it wasn’t too complicated. Still, it was helpful. I had been focusing on building the savings but diverted my attention and resources to stamping out the car loan instead. I can see how this technique could be life-saving for people who are overwhelmed with debtors.

A main tenet of his book is that we can and should all be debt-free. There is a lot that resonates with me about living a debt-free life and this is a message I hope more people hear and get inspired by. Minimalism and debt-free are very good friends. Though I’m not dogmatic or militant about it. There are times when debt has been advantageous in my life but we don’t take it lightly, only entering into it consciously, with eyes wide open and a clear plan.

3. 3-6 Months Expenses in Savings

Building up and maintaining a savings of 3-6 months expenses is the next focus only after all debts are paid. Companies go under. Employees get laid off. Freelance work experiences a drought. People get sick. Life happens. You need an emergency fund to get you through the hard times. In today’s professional climate, this is even more essential than in the past because the old working model of clocking in at 20 and retiring from the same company at 55 is dead. (I recently read The End of Jobs, which I recommend if you want to read more about that.) 3 years is actually the sweet spot in terms of job satisfaction and performance for being at a company. If you’re changing jobs every few years, the transitions can be sticky. You need a buffer.

4. 15% to Retirement (401K, ROTHIRA, Mutual Funds Investing)

There is one line he hammers throughout the entire book over and over again: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” He means that if you live a shitty life in your prime, you might enjoy a nice life when you are old and retired. Most of his examples throughout the book glorify families in which the parents work 3 jobs and rarely see their kids but by golly, they might have a nice savings if they make it to old age running themselves ragged. This is the heart of his philosophy and it’s one I completely disagree with. My philosophy is definitely more in line with Tim Ferris in that regard who urges you not to sacrifice your present for a future that may never come in the 4-hour work week (Ramsey actually even throws shade at Tim’s approach in this book). Particularly when there are children involved. My kids would rather have us present and be happy, healthy, rested, and homeschooling with a student loan floating out there than have us be absent working 3 jobs while they are in school and daycare with no student loan. These years are so important and while being debt free and financially healthy is a priority (we don’t use credit, we snowball, we budget, we save, we contribute to retirement), it is not the priority.

5. College Fund (ESA funded in growth stock mutual funds)

I appreciate that he does include a bit about college not being a golden ticket. If you want to read more about our approach to college for our 3 kids, check out Sage Homeschooling: Wild and Free.

6. Pay off Mortgage

This is where I hop off the Dave Ramsey train entirely. I know someone who had 3 houses paid off and then the real estate market crashed and they lost everything. I don’t plan to stay in the same house my entire life and I am happy to purchase a property with a mortgage, fix it up with a tight budget and lots of elbow grease, and sell it several years later when we are ready to move on to a new adventure (freedom of mobility). Also, the nation’s average income ($50K) paired with the cost of housing in a major city ($710K in Seattle), don’t line up for buying a house all cash. Again, his mindset around this is painfully outdated. The person he is talking to gets hired by Blockbuster out of college, works there 35 years, then retires and dies in their rocking chair on the porch. Norman Rockwell called and he wants his financial advice back. That is just not the world we live in anymore.

7. Build Wealth (invest)

He claims the only way to get rich is to invest in the stock market.

Overall, it’s a book worth reading. The first 3 steps alone should be knowledge every teenager launches knowing. The philosophy is not my jam and I could certainly do without the patriarchal overtones and bible verses, but a quick and easy read that adds value nonetheless.

I was hoping for some budgeting inspiration but found none in this book. I’m presently trying You Need a Budget. We’ll see . . .
5

April 18, 2017

Life Changing Book!
Good book. Life changing! In 4 months, I paid off my car loan, all credit cards and doctor bills!!! About $6,000 total. I increased my credit score to a 747. Started at a 660.
5

February 20, 2018

Changed everything within a month!
I grabbed this book because I was tired of watching our bank account drain and credit card balances rise, all the while wondering where the heck our money was going. And quite simply put, this changed everything for us within the first month.

The "makeover" is a set of 7 baby steps, but before the steps comes the cornerstone of the whole program: a written budget and a cash envelope system. The book covers why you need a written budget, and boy, it was true for us. Sure, I had a mental idea of what our bills were. But writing everything out let me see ALL the little things I tend to forget about, and how quickly they add up. The book helped us make a "zero based" budget, meaning we earmarked every dollar coming in for a specific purpose (rent, groceries, gasoline, etc.) Then comes the cash envelope system, which helped us make an immediate 180-degree turnaround on our spending. The book covers why cash is better than plastic (debit as well as credit), as well as how to create cash envelopes for each spending category and stuff them with the budgeted amounts. No more accidental overspending!

The rest of the book goes over the baby steps, a systematic, do-these-in-order money tasks to kill debt and build wealth. Each step's chapter also includes personal success stories. Honestly, you can learn the steps without this book either from the Dave Ramsey website, or even better, from watching the metric TON of YouTube videos on his channel. He does a daily show where people call in with money problems, and he uses this method to solve them. That practical, real-world advice has taught me a lot about this system. But I like having this book handy on my Kindle as a reference, plus the info given about each individual step goes more in-depth than the website.

To sum up, if you own Financial Peace University, Dave's other money books, or are a die-hard YouTube viewer, there's likely nothing new here. But if you're new to the system or want a written reference to go along with his videos, this might well be the one to get in order to cover the basics. I was desperate and at wit's end, terrified of the retirement future staring me in the fact in the next decade or so. Now, I can see a bright financial future ahead, and we have a plan. I can't say enough about this program!
2

Oct 24, 2009

Ramsey presents some sound financial principles in the book, but it came across as a sales pitch because he mentions his other books and live events, and practically every other page contains a lengthy testimonial from people gushing about their Total Money Makeover. I skipped all of these since I'm looking for practical financial advice, not feel-good stories.

I didn't like Ramsey's strict no-debt stance. The only exception he allows for is a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Although I agree that Ramsey presents some sound financial principles in the book, but it came across as a sales pitch because he mentions his other books and live events, and practically every other page contains a lengthy testimonial from people gushing about their Total Money Makeover. I skipped all of these since I'm looking for practical financial advice, not feel-good stories.

I didn't like Ramsey's strict no-debt stance. The only exception he allows for is a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Although I agree that most people are better off avoiding credit cards because they can't resist the temptation to abuse them, I like to use cash-back and other rewards cards to pay for the things I'd be purchasing anyway. I don't think I spend more money simply because I charge purchases rather than dropping cash or using my debit card. For example, I paid my college tuition on my credit card and earned 1% cash back on thousands of dollars. I also charge all my gas purchases, and make 5% cash back. Did I spend more on tuition or drive more than necessary because I had charged those purchases instead of paying cash? I didn't perform a scientific experiment to determine that, but I'd guess not.

I've also reviewed the abridged audio version.

The Steps of the Total Money Makeover

1. Set up a $1000 emergency cash fund
Sacrifice, work extra hours, and sell stuff to get the money.
Keep as paper bills or in a savings account.
Don't put it in checking or any other account or investment.

2. Pay off your debt snowball
List your debts, smallest to largest.
Pay them off.

3. Finish the emergency fund
Must cover 3 - 6 months of living expenses. 3 months if you have a truly steady job, otherwise 6 months.
$5,000 - $25,000
Put in Money Market with no penalties and check-writing abilities

4. Invest 15% of gross income in retirement
Don't count any company-matched funds.
Don't count on Social Security.
Use these accounts, in this order:
1. 401K if company matches.
2. Roth IRA.
3. growth-stock mutual funds:
25% large cap
25% mid cap
25% international
25% small/emerging

5. Save for college for your kids
Use these accounts, in this order:
1. Educational Savings Account (ESA) in a growth-stock mutual fund
2. If you want to save more, use a flexible 529 that allows you to choose your funds
3. Scholarships

6. Pay off the house mortgage
Spend every extra dollar you have left after setting aside for living, retirement, college, and mortgage.
Don't keep a low-rate mortgage just so you can invest at a higher rate. After you pay taxes on your investment returns, and factor in the additional risk that the mortgage debt brings, it's not worth it. In the long term, you'll come out ahead by being debt-free.

7. Build wealth
At this point, you're completely debt-free.
The next step is the Pinnacle Point: when your money makes more than you do.
There are 3 good uses for money:
1. Fun
Guilt-free enjoyment, if you can afford it.
2. Investing
Think long-term.
Don't try to time the market.
Choose simple mutual funds and debt-free real estate.
3. Giving
Giving it away can be the most fun you have with your money.

Additional advice
Winning at money is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.
"If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else."
Debt brings risk, not prosperity. You can't leverage debt to build wealth.
You don't need to build credit because you won't use it if you follow the Total Money Makeover.
Credit card rewards aren't worth it. You end up spending more in unnecessary purchases and interest payments than you make back in rewards. No one ever became rich from credit card rewards.

Choose high deductibles for auto and home insurance.
Make a will.
Choose a term policy, not Whole Life or Universal Life insurance.
Don't prepay your kids' college expenses. You'll make higher returns by putting this money in mutual funds.
Buy a house for 100% down, or if that's absolutely not possible, get a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

You don't have to wait until retirement to do what you love. Get a job that you enjoy.
A college education improves the quality of your adult life and career. But, it doesn't ensure a job or success.
If you have cash or a scholarship, go to college. But pay cash; avoid student loans.

Don't get a 30-year mortgage with the intention of paying it off in 15 years. You'll find other things to spend your money on. Having a 15-year mortgage forces you to pay off your home in 15 years.
Don't pay points on your mortgage, since you're just paying interest up front.
Your house payment should be less than 25% of your take-home pay.

Don't lend to friends. If you must give your friends money, give it as a gift. Loans ruin friendships.
"Wealth will make you more of what you are", whether you're a jerk or a generous person.
"The love of money, not money, is the root of all evil." You have a duty to possess wealth to ensure that it's used properly.

Recommended percentages for allocating your money
Charitable Giving 10-15
Saving 5-10
Housing 25-35
Utilities 5-10
Food 5-15
Transportation 10-15
Clothing 2-7
Medical/Health 5-10
Personal 5-10
Recreation 5-10
Debts 5-10 ...more
4

Jun 15, 2017

Recently, a good friend of mine who knew that I had read this book asked me whether or not I found it helpful. This friend has struggled with managing her personal finances and is drowning in credit card debt. She was feeling pretty hopeless and was worried that she'd never be able to take care of her bills and set enough aside for retirement.

Rather than go into the ins and outs of the book, I downloaded the audiobook version and we listened together while working on paperwork during the work Recently, a good friend of mine who knew that I had read this book asked me whether or not I found it helpful. This friend has struggled with managing her personal finances and is drowning in credit card debt. She was feeling pretty hopeless and was worried that she'd never be able to take care of her bills and set enough aside for retirement.

Rather than go into the ins and outs of the book, I downloaded the audiobook version and we listened together while working on paperwork during the work day. Honestly, I just didn't think I could communicate the underlying message of the book without coming across kind of "preachy". This provided a nice way to share the major concepts of the book with her, while providing a strong reminder for me.

As you can imagine, personal finance isn't exactly the most entertaining topic. That is especially true when the take away message is to exercise restraint and behave responsibly. Nobody wants to face the fact that we are to blame for our own financial situations. It is far less painful to blame somebody else for the damage we do to ourselves.

That being said, I really like Dave Ramsey's common sense approach. He tells some hard truths and forces you to take a long, hard look in the mirror. If you're looking for excuses or a pity party, you won't find it here. He is brutally honest.

Sacrifice today for wealth tomorrow is idea. There is no get rich quick scheme presented, just old-fashioned wisdom. Essentially, his advice is to turn back the hands of time and handle money the way my grandparent's generation, and the generations before theirs, did. Don't spend money that you don't have. Save for future expenditures. Quit trying to keep up with the Joneses. It's that simple.

Of course, he does provide guidance for how to get out of debt if you've already accumulated it. His personal story of bankruptcy and how he was able to turn around his finances was inspirational. He made it clear that anyone could do it, but they had to be willing to work hard and make some sacrifices. Most importantly, they would have to evaluate their attitudes toward money and be willing to make some changes in their behavior.

Although I'm not a very religious person, I wasn't bothered by the bible verses that were interspersed throughout the book. Some people might be put off by that, but it wasn't an issue for me. Clearly, his religious views are an important piece of his identity. For people that are more spiritual than I am, this might prove to be a great source of inspiration. It was neither here nor there for me.

All in all, I think that this is a great book. It didn't feel gimmicky or too good to be true. There were no promises or schemes presented. It was just good, sound advice for eliminating debt and living within your means.

In fact, I'll probably make my children listen to this as they get older. I'm planning to purchase the book he wrote with his daughter that is geared toward children as well. Might as well start early.

Check out more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com ...more
5

Sep 07, 2007

Buy it, live it! An amazing system that's not a system--just living within one's means. Worth the investment many times over!
5

February 25, 2018

"If You Will Live Like No One Else, Later You Can Live Like No One Else."
I've always been interested in my finances and my husband and I jointly manage our family's finances so we both know what's going on. A friend at church was talking about Dave Ramsey and I had never heard of him before so I decided to look him up and see what kinds of books he wrote. I found this book to be a popular choice of his and I didn't know how much of it would interest me so I ended up borrowing it from the library initially. I enjoyed his writing and found the information to be helpful so I decided to purchase my own copy to reference at home.

The Total Money Makeover is a personal finance book written by Dave Ramsey. Ramsey is a financial expert as well as a Christian who has had his own money troubles in the past. He's overcome them and learned from his mistakes so he's passed along his wisdom in these pages. There are also many stories of people who have been in a tough spot financially who used this book to get themselves out of debt. This book is 237 pages long, contains 13 chapters, worksheets and a full index.

I found this book to be helpful and I really enjoyed reading it! Dave Ramsey writes in a no-nonsense fashion and if he says something is stupid or a bad idea, he will say exactly that. He doesn't beat around the bush. He provides step-by-step information on getting yourself out of debt and what to do if you have a crisis while you are working on getting yourself out of debt (he also refers to Murphy's Law quite a bit so something will always happen). I like how he tells us what types of companies, funds, etc to avoid and what ones are good ones. Even though he knows a lot about investments, he doesn't provide extensive investment information in this book but he does give some information on what types of funds he thinks are best based on trends.

I enjoyed this book so much that I told my sister about it and she said she wanted to read it too so I bought one for her and one for myself. I've told others about the book and I think it is helpful, no matter what your financial situation is. Some parts of the book didn't apply to us but I found the second half of it to be especially informative which is why I decided to buy a copy. Unless you already have millions of dollars in the bank and have all of your finances under control (retirement, investments, kids' college education, etc.), I think you'll find the information in this book to be useful.

If you have a lot of credit card debt and loans and want to get your finances under control, I highly recommend this book. Even if you don't have a lot of debt but you want to find a smarter way prepare for your kids' college education, this is a great book to read. It's very informative and you can also borrow a copy from a friend or the library first before you buy your own. I'm glad I bought it because the small investment in this book has caused us to take a closer look at our finances and see what we can do better. Overall, I feel it's worth the money and time to buy and read this book so you have a financially-fit future!
5

June 16, 2017

So easy to understand
Literally read the book in 3 days, and made up in my mind that I was going to start this thing. I'm 22 years old, fresh out of college, and I wanted to make sure my family was okay before I got married. That means no debt, and being able to keep them out of debt too. So easy to understand, engaging, and relate able.
5

Jan 25, 2008

I read Financial Peace years ago. We tried to live the plan, but looking back we could have done a lot better. The Total Money Makeover takes the same plan and breaks it down into more detailed babysteps. This REALLY works! We've had our $1000 emergency saving account for years now and have hardly had to dip into it because we really think through what an emergency is. Most of the time we have been able to wait a few weeks until the "extra paycheck," tax return or a bonus comes through instead I read Financial Peace years ago. We tried to live the plan, but looking back we could have done a lot better. The Total Money Makeover takes the same plan and breaks it down into more detailed babysteps. This REALLY works! We've had our $1000 emergency saving account for years now and have hardly had to dip into it because we really think through what an emergency is. Most of the time we have been able to wait a few weeks until the "extra paycheck," tax return or a bonus comes through instead of using our savings. The debt snowball really works. I was amazed when I saw how much money is going toward our last debt! It will only be a few more months to get it paid off. Yes, we did stop retirement for the past year--it was a simple form to fill out at work and only took a couple minutes. The money that was previously in our IRA is still growing, but we're not adding to it right now. When that debt is gone and we have our 3-6 month savings we'll start it up again. What doesn't make sense is having debt when you retire and using your money from your 401K/IRA to pay off the debt.

This book is just common sense in a big way! There is so much peace in being in control of our money and our marriage is so much better because we have GOALS that we plan together.

This book is a great gift for college graduations and weddings! We buy it on Dave Ramsey's website when it goes on sale for $10 a copy.

Update: June 2018.
I wrote the original post Jan 2008. We still follow this plan. We've been debt free for the past 10 years. no credit cards for even longer. My husband started his own company--debt free and has never borrowed money for it. We paid for six vehicles in cash (a "dave" car for my husband, a family can, then a truck to replaced the "Dave" vehicle, one replaced the worn out family vehicle, the others are the high schoolers and a college car. Currently have 4 good running, paid for vehicles). We have paid college tuition, missionary support and cash flowed a wedding. Our only debt is our house. It will get more attention after our children are grown. We've been amazed at what we can do by being intentional and planning large purchases, vacations and budgeting! ...more
5

May 7, 2017

We took action immediately!
Life altering financial plan. Love the simplicity, the common sense & the breakdown of steps to take to truly put your money to work for you - rather than continue to be slave to lenders.
Additionally, Dave Ramsey should be introduced to EVERY high school aged kid in this country - talk about cultural financial change!!!
5

November 10, 2017

TAKE THE PLUNGE AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
Dave Ramsey is not just a financial adviser with down to earth advice in taking control of your money, but also is a fine person that truly cares about helping people with a kind heart and sound advice for basic living. If one cannot afford to buy his books (It would be better to afford them then other wasted spending)....he has a wonderful website where you can also find good information and videos and is on the radio every weekday. He answers questions truthfully and kindly. Do I recommend? Absolutely! Give this man and his advice a try!
1

Aug 14, 2015

This book is great for those who are in debt because of overspending. Unfortunately Dave Ramsey groups everyone in the same category with the undisciplined, regardless of their background. He uses unrealistic examples of people having a mortgage of $50,000, or someone paying $250/month for a small apartment while paying off debt. He uses examples of young people in their mid-twenties making $50,000 a year. These are completely unrealistic numbers in most regions of the country.

He proudly says This book is great for those who are in debt because of overspending. Unfortunately Dave Ramsey groups everyone in the same category with the undisciplined, regardless of their background. He uses unrealistic examples of people having a mortgage of $50,000, or someone paying $250/month for a small apartment while paying off debt. He uses examples of young people in their mid-twenties making $50,000 a year. These are completely unrealistic numbers in most regions of the country.

He proudly says that his business is debt-free. Dave Ramsey is not a dentist or a chiropractor or a manufacturing business owner who would need expensive equipment to run his business.

He fails to understand that many people grow up in poverty and are always just barely keeping up with their bills. They may have a mentally ill spouse or child. People face unfair lawsuits, unemployment, death, and other tragedies in life. His self-righteous response is that you should have had your emergency fund in place before these things happened.

Many of us are college-educated, frugal, and self-disciplined. We don’t pay for manicures, we cut everybody’s hair in the family, we don’t buy meat, our vacations are mini-vacations within an hour’s drive from our home, we drive 15-year-old cars, and we live in a small condo.

Perhaps his most arrogant statement is that “there is no excuse to retire without financial dignity in the United States today.”

If you are educated, hard-working, disciplined, and understand how money works, you will waste your money on this book. You can learn a lot more about money and compassion from Suze Orman than from Dave Ramsey. Buy a book by Suze Orman instead. ...more
1

February 3, 2019

Really?
If you were raised by wolves or have ZERO practical or financial knowledge you may be able to glean some information from this book. If you are a responsible adult you will find this to a a book to be an utter and complete waste of time! I am completely stunned and saddened grown adults find this useful. Can't recommend this book any less.
3

Feb 20, 2008

I probably should have given this book more than three stars, because it's a good start to figuring out a critical piece of the financial puzzle; getting out of debt. This book is debt-centric, so, if you're in debt, then yes, you really should read this book.

However, while focusing on getting out of debt is a crucially important step of freeing up your income (because if the money you make every month is spent every month, you're not financially fit), there are many aspects of your financial I probably should have given this book more than three stars, because it's a good start to figuring out a critical piece of the financial puzzle; getting out of debt. This book is debt-centric, so, if you're in debt, then yes, you really should read this book.

However, while focusing on getting out of debt is a crucially important step of freeing up your income (because if the money you make every month is spent every month, you're not financially fit), there are many aspects of your financial self that are not addressed in this book. And, while Mr. Ramsey would probably tell you that these aspects of your financial self can wait until you're out of debt, I don't think it's wise to procrastinate an awareness of your financial whole.

This is not to say that you should rationalize being in debt and/or put off getting out of it; and Mr. Ramsey has a sure-fire way of doing that. So, to the person in debt, the book does contain a money makeover plan; just not a total money makeover plan.

If you want a money makeover that is total, you can combine this book with others ... or my sister, Taibi, has recommended a book called "Making the Most of Your Money," and she says it is a "total" guide to managing money. I'm going to read it myself, soon, and I'll let you know how I like it.

Other books I would recommend about money; "Money Harmony" by Olivia Mellan, and "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind." I'll post reviews of those separately.

...more
1

Nov 22, 2008

This book is an insult to the intelligence of any rational human being who has even the slightest notion of what personal finance is all about. Full of filler, fluff, weak-sauce stories trying to be inspirational.

Let me tell you in one sentence what this book took over 200 pages to tell:

Take personal responsibility for your finances and start living within your means; you'll be happy and wealthy eventually because of it.

Don't read this book!
5

Oct 07, 2007

This book is a great step by step plan to help you get control of your finances by walking you through the 7 baby steps.
1. Small Emergency Fund of $1000
2. Pay off all debt except house with debt snowball
3. Fully Fund Emergency Fund to 3-6x of living expenses
4. Invest 15% of income for retirement
5. Fund kids college fund
6. Pay off mortgage
7. Have fun, give and invest

Definitely a must read and the companion website www.mytotalmoneymakeover.com is hands down the best most practical website I've This book is a great step by step plan to help you get control of your finances by walking you through the 7 baby steps.
1. Small Emergency Fund of $1000
2. Pay off all debt except house with debt snowball
3. Fully Fund Emergency Fund to 3-6x of living expenses
4. Invest 15% of income for retirement
5. Fund kids college fund
6. Pay off mortgage
7. Have fun, give and invest

Definitely a must read and the companion website www.mytotalmoneymakeover.com is hands down the best most practical website I've ever seen from making a budget to tracking all your goals to forums and plenty more. ...more
5

Sep 16, 2007

From my blog:

My friend Amanda was nice enough to buy me Dave Ramsey's book. It must mean it's pretty good if someone else is willing to shell out $25.00 to buy you a book on money management! This book was really repetitive, but I thought it was a fantastic planning tool for those of us who aren't making a gobzillion dollars doing...whatever Paris Hilton does, for example. I have a small bit of debt -- mostly due to 2007: The Year of Dental Nightmares -- and literally no savings. I had quite a From my blog:

My friend Amanda was nice enough to buy me Dave Ramsey's book. It must mean it's pretty good if someone else is willing to shell out $25.00 to buy you a book on money management! This book was really repetitive, but I thought it was a fantastic planning tool for those of us who aren't making a gobzillion dollars doing...whatever Paris Hilton does, for example. I have a small bit of debt -- mostly due to 2007: The Year of Dental Nightmares -- and literally no savings. I had quite a bit saved up for a while, but my bills started to eat into my nice little nest egg and the next thing I knew it was gone. Anyway, I think Ramsey has some great ideas for getting back on the right track with your money.

One thing he does say, over and over again, is that it is not hard to follow his plan, but it's very difficult to actually pull it off. It's not complicated, but it takes determination and focus if you want to get out of debt and start controlling your money, instead of the other way around. He sets out baby steps for a Total Money Makeover, beginning with scrimping and saving until you have a $1,000 emergency fund (Ramsey notes that things like Christmas are not emergencies: "Christmas is not an emergency; it does not sneak up on you. Christmas is always in December, they don't move it, and therefore it's not an emergency." Heh.). Baby step two is to pay off all your debts using a Debt Snowball. Basically you list your debts from smallest to largest, and pay the minimum payments on all but the smallest, to which you devote as much money as you can possibly can. Then, instead of just moving on to the next debt when the first is paid off, you roll over the amount you were paying for the first debt in addition to the minimum payment for the second debt. And so on. It snowballs so that you are paying debts off faster. Seems easy, not sure how the life application will be. The third baby step is to increase the emergency fund to where it could sustain you for three to six months. Baby step four is to invest, which I do a little of right now, and probably won't stop, even though he recommends it. It's too much of a hassle when I'm pretty sure I can climb out of my mini-hole relatively quickly. The next two steps are to save for college (done and done, thank you Grandma), and to pay off the mortgage (which I don't have). But I'm sure they are helpful for parents who own a home.

Seriously, though. The people in this book really did some drastic things to get out of debt (they sold cars, houses, first borns, etc.). I'm not nearly in that kind of trouble, but I think using a watered-down version of his money makeover, I can get my credit card and dental bills paid off a lot sooner than I would have without having read this book. I want to be completely credit card free by the new year, and to the point where I am saving some money AND to where I am able to pay for my Scotland trip with cash. I am also going to attempt to budget October, so we'll see how that goes. It terrifies me to think how much I spend eating out. Yikes.

Ramsey is a Christian, but I wouldn't expect anyone who isn't to be turned off by anything he has to say. Basically he quotes a few Proverbs and the people in their testimonies thank God. That's about it. I think the book is totally reasonable if you're not a Christian -- it's not preachy at all.

I also checked out Ramsey's website, and was able to answer a few of my questions that weren't answered in the book, such as whether or not I should continue tithing while trying to get rid of the debt (answer: although he won't beat you up if you stop, he highly encourages tithing -- if you can't live on 90%, you can't live on 100%). So that was cool, and I think I'll find more info on there about other things should they come up. ...more
3

Jan 14, 2008

This guy's claim is basically that the key to accumulating a lot of money is to (1) become debt free, (2) save a sizeable nest egg (3-10k)for the big emergencies that typically send people into debt in the first place, and (3) put the rest of your savings in mutual funds. He's particularly insistent that you suck it up and drive old cars that you've paid cash for rather than make payments on a new car.
Good advice, but it would help if he offered more insights on how to follow it, especially This guy's claim is basically that the key to accumulating a lot of money is to (1) become debt free, (2) save a sizeable nest egg (3-10k)for the big emergencies that typically send people into debt in the first place, and (3) put the rest of your savings in mutual funds. He's particularly insistent that you suck it up and drive old cars that you've paid cash for rather than make payments on a new car.
Good advice, but it would help if he offered more insights on how to follow it, especially since he seems to think that even those deeply in debt can achieve steps (1) and (2)in a year or two. He uses a lot of catch phrases like "live like no one else!" and "save with gazelle-like intensity!" but some more details would go a long way. ...more
2

April 19, 2019

It's pretty loaded.
Only one chapter is actually worth reading. The chapter about tackling your debts in a snowball fashion. Here is what you need to know:
1. Cut up your credit cards. Pay with cash from now on.
2. Sort your debts from smallest to largest.
3. Pay minimum payments on all your debts EXCEPT for the smallest debt.
4. Whatever money you have available, put it on the smallest debt.
5. Once the smallest debt is paid off, work on the next one.
6. Repeat until all you have remaining is your mortgage. You are now ready to read the other sections of this book that deal with investments, emergency saving, retirement, etc.

But this book is fishy. I will say that. The book is riddled with 'personal letters' from people who are successful in following Dave Ramsey. Each chapter has like 5 personal stories each-- and they are all written the same. It is so obvious that the stories are fake or edited so much that it looks like one person wrote them all. If the chapters did not have these fake stories, the chapters would only be a few paragraphs long.

The book is filled with fluff that really it should not be as long as it is. I feel like they tried hard to stretch the content as much as possible and fill in pages with redundancies and these fake personal stories.

Also, this book is a bit too religious for me. I get it, Dave is christian. Actually he sounds catholic. He expects you to give money away as charity and church tithing. Does not sounds financially sound to me. He actually believes giving money away is how you stay successful. I guess we all have our own definition of being successful.

The more I think about this book, the more stars I take away. I do not recommend this book.
2

Nov 08, 2011

After hearing about Dave Ramsey from a number of people, I decided to pick this up out of curiosity. I skimmed this book quickly, partly because it is mostly fluff. His crams the book full of testimonials about other families who have gotten out of debt- that's for the outside of the book, not the inside of it. Most of his actual advice (pay for things with cash, don't buy what you can't afford, live below your means, start investing for retirement early) consists of things my parents have been After hearing about Dave Ramsey from a number of people, I decided to pick this up out of curiosity. I skimmed this book quickly, partly because it is mostly fluff. His crams the book full of testimonials about other families who have gotten out of debt- that's for the outside of the book, not the inside of it. Most of his actual advice (pay for things with cash, don't buy what you can't afford, live below your means, start investing for retirement early) consists of things my parents have been telling me since they started giving me an allowance. Ramsey is also vague about the actual saving of money- he suggests that everyone can get together $1000 in less than a month for their emergency fund. If people could find instantaneously $1000 of their income they weren't using elsewhere, wouldn't they have avoided falling into debt in the first place? I am glad other people have been able to use this system to get out of debt and put their finances in order, but this book did pretty much nothing for me. I would like to find a book that's more explicit about budgeting and investing, and one that doesn't tell me being in debt is like being fat, or that our government is completely incompetent at every opportunity, or one that doesn't belittle my chosen career path. ...more
1

July 7, 2019

Misinformation Abounds - Buyer Beware
Dave Ramsey cannot do Math. Misinformation abounds in this book. First, Ramsey’s famous “12% market return”. This is a false number, and even if he used the correct number for the S&P since it’s inception (10%), it’s not adjusted for inflation. *Real* market returns (the increase in actual value in today’s dollars) are between 6 and 8 percent (see Warren Buffet). Ramsey does some truly spectacular math with this B.S. number, including the statement that if you invested $3600 instead of prepaying for your own funeral you would end up with almost half a million dollars. That’s outright deceptive. There’s plenty of these nuggets throughout the book. Lines such as “you cannot pay off your student loans while in school” (you can, payments just aren’t *required* while in school) are a good example. Or that you can securely withdraw 8% of your nest egg and still see an annual 4% return. This advice is outright dangerous, because the actual value you can withdraw safely in perpetuity is around 3%. That’s how volatile markets and inflation work. Withdraw 8% of your principal per year and you will run out of money.

His statements on debt are also questionable, especially student debt. The message is “don’t do it!”. This might make economic sense for an arts major, but for an engineering/STEM major, debt truly is an instrument. Your increase in salary for the first few years post-graduation alone makes it economical.
1

Mar 28, 2017

If you like animated religious sermons, Fox News infomercials and make payments on your Lexus with payday loans then this book is for you.

I'm still on the hunt for a book that will teach me how to invest.
4

Feb 26, 2008

This is a pretty decent plan for getting out of debt and starting to invest. In the time-honored tradition of such self-help books as How To Win Friends and Influence People, Ramsey uses personal stories from other people to drive his points home.

But in essence, the plan is like this:
1) stop buying things, sell off everything you don't need, stop using credit cards, etc.
2) save up a $1000 emergency fund
3) throw all possible cash toward paying off your smallest debt
4) once the first debt is This is a pretty decent plan for getting out of debt and starting to invest. In the time-honored tradition of such self-help books as How To Win Friends and Influence People, Ramsey uses personal stories from other people to drive his points home.

But in essence, the plan is like this:
1) stop buying things, sell off everything you don't need, stop using credit cards, etc.
2) save up a $1000 emergency fund
3) throw all possible cash toward paying off your smallest debt
4) once the first debt is paid off, throw all possible cash toward paying off your second smallest debt, and so on until all you have left is your mortgage (if you have one)
5) save up a 3-6 month emergency fund
6) start a college fund (if you have kids) and pay off your mortgage
7) invest, have fun, etc.

Oh, and while Ramsey uses some Bible quotes here and there, it's pretty easy to ignore the parts about "God's plan for you" and other religious nonsense, and focus on the financial advice. ...more
5

Mar 03, 2011

I can not believe that I've spent the last 12 years working in the Accounting field being such a good steward of my employers money but could never get a good grasp on my own money. The Total Money Makeover book has helped me go from paycheck-to-paycheck-thinking to wealth-building-thinking. Once my eyes were opened (I read the book in 2 days) I knew my financial life would never be the same. I asked my husband to read the book and when he started sending me texts like: Do you know that if we I can not believe that I've spent the last 12 years working in the Accounting field being such a good steward of my employers money but could never get a good grasp on my own money. The Total Money Makeover book has helped me go from paycheck-to-paycheck-thinking to wealth-building-thinking. Once my eyes were opened (I read the book in 2 days) I knew my financial life would never be the same. I asked my husband to read the book and when he started sending me texts like: Do you know that if we invest X dollars in a good mutual fund from age 30 to age 70 that it will be around 5.5 million dollars?!! I knew Dave had him hook, line & sinker. A good percentage of our marital issues surrounded money but there are no arguments on that subject anymore. We understand what the short term goal is (get debt free) and what the long term goals are (remain debt free & build wealth) so most of the decisions have already been made. Once we saw what "keeping up with the Joneses" does to your greatest wealth building tool (income), we decided that we could cut our life down to "rice & beans" for 2 to 2 1/2 years, clean up the massive mess we had made, and reclaim the nearly $2,000 per month we were paying on debt. I sure wish we had this book as teenagers/ younger adults, I can only imagine where we would be now. But even still, my son will never remember how his parents where up to their eyeballs in debt. We still have about $35k (down from 73k) in consumer debt to go, but thank God our financial family tree has been changed forever. ...more
5

Nov 24, 2009

This book is so helpful, straightforward, and inspiring. I have spent my twenties in the misery of consumer debt and student loans.

I am now credit card debt free and am busting up my student loans.

I like his advice. The very first thing you do is to get 1,000 dollars together BEFORE you start tackling your credit cards. Be aggressive, take a second job, sell your prized possessions, whatever, but get that $1,000. This is not $$ to keep in a checking account but in a savings account and with This book is so helpful, straightforward, and inspiring. I have spent my twenties in the misery of consumer debt and student loans.

I am now credit card debt free and am busting up my student loans.

I like his advice. The very first thing you do is to get 1,000 dollars together BEFORE you start tackling your credit cards. Be aggressive, take a second job, sell your prized possessions, whatever, but get that $1,000. This is not $$ to keep in a checking account but in a savings account and with drawn ONLY FOR AN EMERGENCY.

Now you have a buffer for emergencies. Now when the car breaks or a pipe breaks you don't have to break out the credit card, and it is the first step from freeing you from the shackles of debt.

Then you order your debts smallest to largest. Once you pay off the smallest, you can take the $$ from the minimum payment and use it to pay off the next smallest debt. It snowballs.

I'm a substitute teacher and make a small salary. To be free of the unrelenting hundreds of dollars of credit card debt is the best thing that has happened to me in so long.

I am being over dramatic, but I truly feel hope for my financial future since I was about 14.

You gotta buy this book. He has a radio show too but I've never listened. ...more

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