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"The Total Money Makeover": Book Review

Sharon has a passion for reading non-fiction books and writing about what she learns from her research and her experiences.


You Can Stop Struggling By Following A Plan

Money struggles are a common condition that we all experience at some time or another. Debt is an epidemic in this country as many people live beyond their means or cannot make ends meet on what they are earning.

There are many money gurus out there but Dave Ramsey's common sense approach demonstrates he is one of the best. His advice is simple and straightforward. In his book The Total Money Makeover Dave takes a complicated subject and makes it simple and completely doable with a step by step system.

Is financial security eluding you?

Is financial security eluding you?

Managing Your Money Step by Step

Money Management

This is a skill everyone should learn and it doesn't matter what your income is or how old you may be. It really doesn't matter how little money you are currently earning what matters is how you handle that money. When I purchased this book my debt load was not bad however I never seemed to have money left over at the end of the month.

Making More Money Isn't Always the Answer

When doing my research I found that even high-income earners can get themselves into trouble. This is certainly evident by the raging credit card debt we experience in America. Keeping up with the Jones's can be a proposition and a totally unnecessary one. It is highly likely that the Jones's are up to their eyeballs in debt! You don't want to keep up appearances and sacrifice your peace of mind.

There are a multitude of reality television and radio shows that help people to get control of their finances. Dave Ramsey is a well-known host of a radio talk show about managing your money. It always amazes me to see and hear high-income earners talk on these programs. If you don't spend and save consciously you can get yourself into a whole heap of trouble no matter what your income.

I struggled with finances and always felt like I wasn't getting anywhere, least of all ahead. I kept coming across references to The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey in articles and books I was reading so I decided I needed to read this particular book and I was not disappointed.

Dave Ramsey

Dave is currently enjoying a career and income that supports a very comfortable lifestyle but this was not always the case. He has seen hard times in his life and he actually hit rock bottom and lost everything at one point. That is when he and his wife had to dig their way out of debt and back to leading a very comfortable life again, debt free. He outlines his successful money management plan for you in his books.

What Dave Ramsey Believes

This is the premise of Dave's book: getting out of debt with a willingness to "live like no one else does now so that you can live like no one else later". In other words, give up those creature comforts by not going into debt to purchase them—stop living like the Jones's. You should halt all attempts at saving and investing if you are in debt. Get rid of your debt first by starting with the smallest amount owed and ending with the largest. This "take one small step at a time" approach diverts small amounts of cash to reduce these debts in a consistent and linear fashion.

Step by Step Advice

Dave Ramsey outlines very concretely the step by step method and it is easy to follow and understand, all you need to do is stick to it and you will see results. I know I have.

I have achieved a 3-month income cushion as an emergency fund. This is one aspect Dave strongly recommends. I have never had this before and when emergencies came up I always had to go to the credit cards or my line of credit to pay for these unplanned for events. This created a vicious cycle and I was stuck in this cycle for years. It's like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders knowing you can now pay cash for any unexpected life events.

The book outlines each step in logical order peppered with real-life stories of people who have followed his advice and where it has taken them. I really enjoyed reading the stories as I found them to be quite inspiring. These were everyday people like myself and they successfully reached their financial goals by following Dave's advice.

Dave writes in a very motivating and encouraging manner and even if you think you don't have any extra money to pay down your debt—you do—and Dave will explain how to do it no matter what you earn. He just tells it like it is in a straightforward manner. There is no fluff.

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The Book

I struggled for a long time with my finances and now I can say after reading The Total Money Makeover and applying the principles within that I am well on my way to being financially secure.

It is one of the best books I have read on money management. It just makes sense and is simple to follow. The step by step method ensures you are making progress right away. This is progress that you can see that will motivate you to keep going.

Reading the book is a wise investment, however you must APPLY the strategies. Too often people read the book and then implement little of the advice or worse yet, do nothing at all. Action is traction!

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees but You Can Make it Grow

Watch your money grow!  After you get out of the debt hole your money can start working for you instead of the other way around. "The Money Makeover" book concentrates on getting you out of this debt so you can reach the investment stage .

Watch your money grow! After you get out of the debt hole your money can start working for you instead of the other way around. "The Money Makeover" book concentrates on getting you out of this debt so you can reach the investment stage .

Take the First Step

There are many financial books on the market some are very focused on investing. Investing is a later step in this book and it makes total sense. Keep in mind that many financial advisors have their own agenda and that is to make large commissions from your investment decisions! When you reach the investment stage (by extinguishing your debt) it is wise to engage a "fee for service" financial advisor who is not affiliated with specific investment products.

However, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Before heading down the investment path you have to have the money to invest! Dave's method eliminates your debt payments first so you can redirect your money into investments. You want to be on the investment path where your money will start to grow on its own.

Many of you may think that you cannot possibly squeeze any more money out of your tiny budget to address your debt problem, but you can and Dave Ramsey's wisdom will get you there. You may have to start very small but once you get the momentum and start seeing results there will be no turning back. Dave's "snowball" starts to roll.

Keep in mind that the only thing that may come between you and your financial freedom is you. You must make the decision to do this and then stick to the plan. Dave's plan is designed around small successes that will keep you motivated and on track.

Dave Ramsey's Seven Steps

  1. Save $1,000 to keep as an Emergency Fund
  2. Pay off all your debt using the "Snowball" method
  3. Save 3 to 6 months of expenses
  4. Invest 15% of your total family income
  5. Save for children's education (college fund)
  6. Pay off your home mortgage early
  7. Keep building your wealth and donate to charities!

What Is the Snowball Method?

Take your smallest debt and start to pay that down with whatever you can no matter how small. When it is paid off, take the amounts you were paying toward that debt and start to pay down your next largest debt. When that debt is extinguished you take all the money you were directing to that debt and apply to your next largest debt. Keep doing this until you are debt-free. The premise is to use the money you free up by paying down a debt to pay off more debt. It works like a snowball essentially.

Reading the book is the first step and the next is putting what you read into action. If you do this, you will no longer struggle with your money and it will feel great!


Dave Ramsey Has Advice for College Grads

The Secret to Financial Mastery Is to Have a Plan

The rules to gaining control of your finances are simple, however, they are not easy. Start from where you are and follow through with the steps no matter how little money you have left for debt repayment. Just get started with your own financial snowball.

For more detail and guidance invest in purchasing Dave Ramsey's book or check it out of the library. You will not regret this informative read. Good luck!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Sharon Bellissimo


jimconrad2 on November 23, 2013:

Too bad I didn't discover this book 20 years ago. Great information and lens.

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