Review: The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial FitnessThe Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

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