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Total Money Makeover Book Review

by David DeFord

Occasionally I read a book that changes me. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is one of those books.

I’ve read several books on how to approach money. Some teach how to attract it; others tell the readers how to invest it; yet others show you “secrets” of obtaining unbelievable (literally) wealth.

But Ramsey’s book takes a completely different approach. Rather than revealing some new, never before revealed “secret”, he teaches us how to approach money the same way our grandmas did.

No “secrets” are revealed—just the principles of safely eliminating a debt and then building a nest egg large enough to keep us secure in our retirements.

He teaches the readers to take active control of their family finances rather than hoping things come together. “Ed McMahan isn’t coming.”

He encourages readers to live differently than their neighbors in order to live better than them later. “Don’t keep up with the Jones’; the Jones’ are broke.”

Here is a brief summary of the steps Ramsey recommends for gaining financial peace.

Seize Control
Don’t let your money control you—wrestle it to the ground and make it say “uncle”. Build a budget and don’t allow yourself to lose control again.

Save $1000 Fast
As you work toward financial peace, you will hit snags along the way. Before tackling your debt, put aside $1000 to handle such snags. That way, when an emergency arises, you won’t have to add to your debt.

The Debt Snowball
Once you have your $1000 safety net, tackle your debt with super intensity.

“Debt is the enemy”.

Rank your debts from the smallest balance to the largest. Pay the minimum on all debts but the one with the smallest balance. Throw every dollar you at it. Sell stuff if you have to, but pay off that smallest debt as soon as possible.

Once you have paid it off, move to the next one. Throw every dollar you can at it.

As you pay each debt off your excitement will grow. And the amount you’re paying toward the next debt grows. Just as a snowball grows as it rolls along, so will your success at eliminating your debt.

Finish Your Emergency Fund
Now that you have eliminated all of your debt except for your mortgage, apply all excess cash into growing your emergency fund. Save three to six months worth of expenses into a money market account. That way you can get to it when you need it, but it will grow faster than it would in a simple savings account.

Only use these funds for unforeseen emergencies. Christmas is not an unforeseen emergency. It comes at the same time every year. Car insurance is not unforeseen. You know when it’s due. Prepare of it. A leather couch on sale may be unforeseen, but it’s not an emergency.

Maximize Retirement Investing
Once the emergency fund is fully funded, throw 15% of your gross income into your retirement fund. Leverage your employer’s 401K, if possible. Then put your money into IRAs and mutual funds.

Ramsey has charts that help you calculate how much you need to have on hand to retire and how much you need to contribute each month to get there.

College Funding
At the same time you’re building your retirement fund, you should grow college funds for your children.

Pay Off Your Mortgage
And while you’re building your retirement fund and your college funds, you should work to pay off your mortgage.


Build Wealth Like Crazy
Keep investing; have some fun; and give lots away.

The most enjoyment one can find in wealth is through giving some of it away. Think of the good you can accomplish!

I give Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover my highest rating—5 stars.

He teaches common sense, security, thrift, and charity.

I encourage you to find the book and put his recommendations into practice.

You can have financial peace.

Buy The Total Money Makeover on Amazon.com


Debt is the enemy. Dave Ramsey

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have in order to impress people we don’t like. Dave Ramsey

Debt is a willing servant but a cruel master. Ezra Taft Benson

If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart and into the family, it is to live within our means, and if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet. Heber J. Grant

Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sunday's and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you. J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

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