The Total Money Makeover full review

The Total Money Makeover: by Dave Ramsey

by: David Judy


Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover

Several weeks ago I walked into a room where a young lady had an impressive range of credit cards on the table and her speaker phone turned on. I heard the automated message announce that she had $14 of credit available for use. Immediately upon this announcement she hung up the phone and quickly made another phone call to an unknown person to declare that they could use that card to make the purchase they were apparently considering. I remember that I was totally surprised that anyone could make a buying decision based on the fact that they had a working capital of $14. This is sadly more common than one might think in our credit-driven world.

What is a person to do if they have no credit or, more commonly, too much credit?

Look down the aisle of any book store and you will find an endless supply of books to tackle financial woes. One popular book even promises that all one needs to do is think about no debt and you will have no debt. The truth is that many of these book do in fact work in providing wealth, but they only work for the author because he is able to sell you a book for $29.95. Yes, it may have some new tactic to save money, pay debt, or even to make lots of money, but you find yourself asking the question, “If this works so well why would the author take the time to sell this book rather than work on his own system that promises millions with so little effort?”

Dave Ramsey in the The Total Money Makeover will give you what appears to be the most basic financial advice, but it’s advice that apparently most people are unaware of in this over-extended, credit card-driven world. The book starts out by telling how Dave Ramsey started out, in just about as bad a spot as we can all imagine being in … house in foreclosure, cars gone, and the utility guy knocking at the door to shut off the electricity. After making clear that he is a guy that walks the talk, he starts to break down how to get out of this situation step by step.

The movie What About Bob? is about a disturbed man who focuses his stalker-like attention on a single psychologist in an attempt to be helped. The psychologist in this movie has a book called Baby Steps in which he tells patients to focus on the small steps to recovery. This would appear to be the source of the system Dave Ramsey has assembled, because he has you take baby steps to debt recovery and financial freedom. Each progressive step is achievable and will lead you to the next step, and with each step you will be closer to the goal of zero debt and financial freedom. That is the beauty of this book, effective simplicity. You just work the steps one by one until you get to the end.

Dave’s system effectively convinces you to focus on the total eradication of all debt with a myopic, single-minded approach to paying them off one by one, starting with the smallest debt first. He calls it a debt snowball. He gives you some very real tools to do this, like having a $1,000 emergency fund as your first step. Once you have set aside a $1,000 emergency fund you can then use his unique budgeting strategy to pay off all your debt without concern for Murphy’s Law stepping in and sabotaging your progress. He doesn’t stop at the paying off of all debts but also gives some really sound advice on how to continue after you are debt free and further fund your emergency fund to cover other unexpected issues like an unexpected job loss.

Companies pay billions to convince us that we need credit and that it’s a harmless thing to use and even abuse. The truth is, with a little planning and effort you can be debt free and still enjoy life. Not just enjoy it but thrive in it. You can take this book and use it as a tried-and-tested road map to get to financial freedom. I have yet to see anything that offers more sound advice in how to do this, and it does clearly work. Dave Ramsey has used this content to grow a hugely popular radio show, speaking tour, and even a range of additional books on the same subject. He offers great advice that covers every stage of how to start and finish the task and has very little fluff that is just designed to sell books. The content has one goal in mind … control your money and make it work for you. In fact, you can’t even buy one of his books on his site with a credit card. Yep, you must use a debit card.

  • Simple and to the point
  • Lots of resources after you finish reading
  • Tested
  • No fluff

  • No real big surprises or WOW items (good and bad)
  • Dave Ramsey can be a little “rough”

Bottom Line

If you want a book to make you feel good about your tidal wave of debt or convince you that with 15 minutes of work you can be a millionaire next week, go get a different book. If you want to control your money and you don’t mind a real system that takes work but is effective, then this is the book for you.


The Total Money Makeover full review
9 Total Score
Great option to pay off debt... Dave Ramsey's: Great Money Makeover

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