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133 of 142 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2014
I have read dozens of finance books and this is one of the best. I would put it up there with Automatic Millionaire, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and Pirates of Financial Freedom. It isn't perfect though which I will talk about later.

Who is this book for? Everyone can benefit from it, but it is great for married couples and those in their late 20s, 30s, and early 40s. Young adults could benefit tremendously from it, but I'm worried it might not be exciting or fun enough to hold their attention. It's not really meant for retirees.

--- The Good ---

* He says financial freedom is 80% behavior and 20% knowledge which is so important, and he emphasizes this by pointing out there are a lot of broke finance professors.

* There are many real-life success stories of real people which shows his method works, and they also provide inspiration.

* He lays out his seven Baby Steps and makes them simple to understand. He points out that living right financially is not complicated. It may be difficult, but it's not complicated.

* I really liked the quote, "If you worked for a company called YOU Inc. and you managed money at YOU Inc. the way you manage your own money now, would you fire you?"

* The book includes helpful budget forms and worksheet in the back of the book.

* He isn't all gloom and doom. He wants you to have fun and even approves of buying a $30,000 watch, but only after you reach step seven and can afford it.

--- The Not-So-Good ---

* He doesn't go into a lot of detail on how to increase your income. Dave Ramsey is rich because he is a business owner who can make money from his radio show, books, seminars, programs, etc. It would have been great to get his advice on that, but he probably didn't want to overwhelm the reader with too many topics.

* I feel his previous bad experience with debt (he was over-leveraged with his real estate investments) has made him overly zealous on not having any debt. College loans can be very appropriate for some people, business loans can be great in the right situation, and his statement that you should put money toward paying down debt rather than getting the company 401(k) match seemed too extreme to me.

* The book wasn't super entertaining. I found a few parts to be a little dry and repetitive. While it certainly wasn't boring, I wish more money management books would be like the new personal finance adventure novel, but I guess that isn't this book's purpose. Still, there were a couple parts that made me chuckle and he did have some interesting stories.

* He stressed putting 100% of your investments in stock-related mutual funds. First, I feel ETFs are probably better than mutual funds because they are cheaper and won't underperform the market. Second, recommending a 100% stock portfolio to everyone regardless of age, financial goals, or risk tolerance seems risky to me. Plus you wouldn't experience the diversification benefit of owning non-correlated asset classes.

* He doesn't talk about the benefits of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals or having an accountability partner, which have been shown to greatly help people achieve all kinds of dreams.

--- Conclusion ---

Overall it is a very good book with a lot of good advice and inspirational case studies. You certainly won't regret reading it.
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78 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2013
Dave Ramsey has created a successful career out of telling people what to do with their money. I’ve listened to his radio show several times, and I can see why he is so popular. He has a no-nonsense demeanor, and his moral universe seems to have few or no gray areas. You’re either right or wrong, smart or dumb. His personality is perfect for getting people motivated to get out of debt and build wealth. But the ultimate goal for Ramsey is not just to build wealth; it is to become generous and leave a legacy to one’s family and community.

The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition is the fourth edition of Dave Ramsey’s most well-known book; the most recent update before this one was 2009. There are a few minor differences between this edition and the previous one, but they are largely the same. In it, Ramsey takes readers through his baby steps for getting out of debt and building wealth:

1. Save $1,000 fast
2. Pay off your debts in order from least to greatest (the “Debt Snowball”)
3. Finish an emergency fund of 3–6 months of expenses
4. Maximize your retirement investing (15% of household income)
5. Fund your kids’ college education
6. Pay off your home mortgage
7. Build wealth and give

Popular as he is, Ramsey has received criticism from various quarters. This criticism ranges from his specific financial advice to the way he talks about poor people. While I think Ramsey could certainly be more nuanced than he is, I think the criticism of the latter misunderstands who Ramsey’s audience is and what he is trying to do. Ramsey is a motivator. He wants to get people fired up about getting out of debt. His comments about being poor are not intended to be nuanced, taking into account every reason why people might be poor. I think, for example, that he is wrong to generalize that poverty due to oppression is not a first-world problem.

In his moral universe, poverty is something to be escaped. When he talks about poor people, he is not talking about the poor in spirit who will inherit the earth. He is not primarily talking about people who are poor because they are oppressed by people with more power than them. He is talking about the kind of poor people—people who waste money on frivolous spending and servicing debt—that his primary audience doesn’t want to be anymore. His advice to that demographic has helped many of them escape debt and build wealth, and he is (rightly, I think) beloved by them. Ramsey is at his best when he is counseling people to resist a culture of overconsumption. He is at his worst when he makes generalizations about the causes of poverty—as are we all.

Note: Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2014
I wish every American would read this book and change their lives! Husband and I became debt free at age23 and 24 after attacking debt for a year. We sold over priced cars for modest budget friendly cars, budgeted with cash envelopes and changed our lives. This book is a must have If you want to suceed with money. Slams sales pitches to the ground and gives you all the info on how to be smart with money and take control so you don't have to be broke anymore. dave is right "debt is dumb cash is king! driving expensive cars is nice if you can afford it, and no America making payments on stuff is not "affording it", ITs called being in debt!!
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59 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2013
Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover has soared in popularity (selling over one million copies), especially in tandem with his Financial Peace program. For the most part, it's a fantastic program. I have many friends who have completed either of his programs with much success—and I am delighted to rejoice with them in the transformation! Both the accountant in me and the pastor in me would recommend The Total Money Makeover to family, friends, or congregants who want to take control of their financial lives and, as Dave says, "Live like no one else, [so] later you can live like no one else." This volume includes many testimonials within each chapter, and also includes an appendix of Total Money Makeover worksheets in the back to help get your budget in order and begin your journey toward financial fitness.

Now the accountant in me and the pastor in me also have a few reservations about recommending The Total Money Makeover (or making a wholesale endorsement of any of Dave Ramsey's programs). Some of the Total Money Makeover seems more like it is treating the symptoms rather than treating the disease, even though Ramsey himself suggests otherwise in some of his critiques. For Ramsey, a big part of financial fitness is discipline, and I couldn't agree more. However, on this note one point of departure for me is with Ramsey's stance on credit cards. He says absolutely no; I say if you are disciplined—and yes, Ramsey includes some statistics without citation suggesting that no one is disciplined—let the right cash rewards credit card work for you. I use my credit card for every purchase I make (being disciplined to only make the regular purchases that I would if I had the cash in my wallet), pay off the total balance every month, and reap $400 to $500 of cash back every December. Yet to Ramsey, this is foolish and unwise—though I don't think he would advise to turn down a $400 check from Grandpa George. It is several of these sorts of contradictions in logic that bother me about a full endorsement. Beyond these disagreements, I also found Ramsey's language and style troubling. His rhetoric is inflammatory. He speaks in broad generalities and stereotypes, making too many assumptions. I felt as though he thinks I and every single one of his readers are stupid.

Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and Total Money Makeover have become especially popular in many churches. And while I am glad for the steps taken toward financial fitness, I am not satisfied with how Ramsey's presentation fits with the life of faith. He primarily uses scare tactics (what if you lose your job, have a major medical emergency, and your car break down all in the same week?) and inflammatory rhetoric to make his point. I understand that this isn't a theological reflection on finances and economics, but there's no doubt it is purported to be biblical. And while I do think that stewardship of our financial resources is a spiritual discipline, Ramsey in this book treats only the symptoms, but never the heart of the issue. The Total Money Makeover is far better than not taking responsible steps to be in control of your budget, but I would like for the church to offer something better.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2014
This is a very intense book. You're going to have to have a lot of self discipline if you want to follow it. I would suggest every one to read and follow this book. If you follow this book, you're going to have great success becoming debt free! A few years of hard work pays off for a stress free life!
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46 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2014
I am very excited to be starting on this journey. I am fortunate not to be buried to deep in credit card debt. I lost all my retirement in my divorce so at 43 I started over with my clothes and the guest bedroom. My previous marriage was all about getting as much stuff as I could because I was so unhappy with my life. Now I am remarried and excited about my life and ready to stop living pay check to pay check making $150k a year. I am learning so much and I had thought so many wrong things about wealth and building a future for myself and my wife.
Thanks Dave for doing a good bit of God's work. I pray every day to allow Him to perform his work through me, a humble servant.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2014
I have listened to Dave Ramsey on the radio and was intrigued by his take on personal finances. I decided to buy the book to see if it gave more detail on his debt snowball theory and guide to personal wealth. I was not disappointed. His style of writing is entertaining which makes this book a quick read. I have started his process, budget is in place and my debt snowball is in the works!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2014
Before I started reading this book, I read a really sophisticated review that tore it apart. I thought to myself that maybe this book wasn't worth the $12 I spent on it. After reading, I realize that Dave gives extremely valuable information on how to create wealth without anything other than your current income. Dave breaks it down to seven steps and his writing style allows readers to clearly understand. A10 year old kid could read this and understand, which is why this book is so valuable. Highly recommended read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2014
This is not really the book I was looking for. I find too much cheer leading and motivational hectoring and not enough straight information on managing money. I'm retired, and having managed mine for many years, I was hoping to get some useful information on how to do an even better job.So far I haven't found it. I did most of what the author suggested on my own in my own way and achieved reasonable success. Still, for younger folk just getting started ,who haven't thought about it, or have not yet learned to be prudent with their hard earned money, it might prove very useful.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2014
This book contains common sense and a practical road map to getting rid of debt. The book is mostly testimonials. Financial Peace is much better. The Kindle version was a mistake as the worksheets are very difficult to read. I bought Financial Peace used for a penny so I don't feel bad about spending $14 for this one. Having over 25 years experience in the financial industry, it concerns me that Dave assumes 12% returns. Two stock mutual funds, tickers MTTIX.lw and PINVX.lw (lw meaning load waived) returned just under 9.5% since inception in 1924 and 1925. The S&P 500 index was not established until 1970. The Vanguard S&P 500 Market Index Fund was established in 1976 and averaged just over 11%, more recently 7.76% over the last 10 years. The worst one year performance starting March 2008 was -43%. Had you retired just before 2008 and relied on 12% returns, its highly likely you would be broke now. When planning your future and projecting future returns, it's better to be conservative and happy than overly optimistic and sorry.
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