3 Stars · book review

Book Review ➛ The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Total Money Makeover
By: Dave Ramsey

Genre: Finance Non-Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Books
Release Date: September 17th, 2003
My Format: Library HardCopy
Rating: Untitled design (2).pngUntitled design (2).pngUntitled design (2).png

If you will live like no one else, later you can “live” like no one else.
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.


Dave Ramsey is world famous as a finical advisor. My goal of 2020 is to be more responsible with my choices and time and I thought this would be a great place to start since it is so popular. I’ve only seen small segments of Dave speaking on T.V. so this was my first time actually hearing his method.

I really liked the overall feel of this book. His steps are a great starting point and in a non-fiction, I am always happy when a book makes me think and this one did that. Financially I’m not the savviest person out there. I grew up in a family that doesn’t really have any financial knowledge. My grandparents rely on Social Security and a small retirement fund and watching them struggle made me really want to learn more so I can prepare myself for the future.

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover has a total of 7 steps.

  1. 1,000 Emergency Fund
  2. Pay of your debt (snowball style)
  3. Finish Emergency Fund
  4. Invest 15% of gross income in retirement
  5. Save for college for your kids
  6. Pay off the house mortgage
  7. Build wealth

The concept of the 7 steps is a solid one if you are in need of a complete money makeover the concept is a very good one. The order at first kind of confused me but as Ramsey talked the more it made sense. This seems to be a lot of people’s criticism when they first start the Dave Ramsey plan. However, I see the purpose and I believe Step 1 is really important to prevent yourself from putting yourself in more debt when life throws you a curveball.

Step 2 is probably the most “famous” of Dave’s methods and it is honestly really smart. Basically, you line up all of your debts smallest to largest and tackle each of them from smallest to largest. So you pay the minimum on all of her debt claims and throw all of your extra money at the smallest debt until it’s paid off. Then you take the money you would have used for the small debt and roll it into the next debt and so forth until your debt-free. This is such a smart idea you’re just repurposing the money you would have been spending in a different way and it made perfect sense.

Step 3 is a common knowledge of a “basic emergency plan” the goal here is to have 3 to 6 months of living expenses. Ramsey suggests $5,000 to $25,000 saved into the money market.

Step 4 is initially very scary, at least to me, 15% is a really large amount of money to set aside but if your debt is paid it’s probably less than your monthly payments were. Plus your future self will thank you! He breaks it down into different ways and references his other book for extra help.

I feel like step 5 and 6 could be skipped or moved around depending on the individual in my case I don’t need either of them at this time. I don’t plan on having kids so I skipped this in my setup for 2020. I also don’t have my own home and I don’t plan on buying one at this time so I will be skipping both. However, these chapters were full of really great advice and I will reference these in the future if I need them.

Step 7 the fun one! Now that all the debt is paid its time to make your money work for you. Dave mostly talked about different ways to invest but at the basic level. He suggests looking into his other book about financing.

Besides the Money Makeover steps that I really like I did have problems with this book. The biggest problem I had while reading this book is fat shaming. Ramsey constantly compares someone being in debt to being fat or out of shape. Repeatedly he says that people are lazy and ignorant and compares it to fat people and that is hard to read.

This book is less than 250 pages and it could have easily been half that size if Dave got to the point. I felt like a lot of the book was him talking about his radio show, other books, and random tangents. It was about 30 to 40 percent before we got to the first step. Once we got to that stage it starts to move faster but it still could have been shaved down.

The main message I got from this book is living within your means and planning for your future. I learned some tricks and tips to get me in a more financially sound place and for me, learning is the reason I read non-fiction.

I recommend this book to anyone struggling with debt or wanting to learn some tips on finance!


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