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I grabbed this book because I was tired of watching our bank account drain and credit card balances rise, all the while wondering where the heck our money was going. And quite simply put, this changed everything for us within the first month.

The "makeover" is a set of 7 baby steps, but before the steps comes the cornerstone of the whole program: a written budget and a cash envelope system. The book covers why you need a written budget, and boy, it was true for us. Sure, I had a mental idea of what our bills were. But writing everything out let me see ALL the little things I tend to forget about, and how quickly they add up. The book helped us make a "zero based" budget, meaning we earmarked every dollar coming in for a specific purpose (rent, groceries, gasoline, etc.) Then comes the cash envelope system, which helped us make an immediate 180-degree turnaround on our spending. The book covers why cash is better than plastic (debit as well as credit), as well as how to create cash envelopes for each spending category and stuff them with the budgeted amounts. No more accidental overspending!

The rest of the book goes over the baby steps, a systematic, do-these-in-order money tasks to kill debt and build wealth. Each step's chapter also includes personal success stories. Honestly, you can learn the steps without this book either from the Dave Ramsey website, or even better, from watching the metric TON of YouTube videos on his channel. He does a daily show where people call in with money problems, and he uses this method to solve them. That practical, real-world advice has taught me a lot about this system. But I like having this book handy on my Kindle as a reference, plus the info given about each individual step goes more in-depth than the website.

To sum up, if you own Financial Peace University, Dave's other money books, or are a die-hard YouTube viewer, there's likely nothing new here. But if you're new to the system or want a written reference to go along with his videos, this might well be the one to get in order to cover the basics. I was desperate and at wit's end, terrified of the retirement future staring me in the fact in the next decade or so. Now, I can see a bright financial future ahead, and we have a plan. I can't say enough about this program!
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on April 18, 2017
Good book. Life changing! In 4 months, I paid off my car loan, all credit cards and doctor bills!!! About $6,000 total. I increased my credit score to a 747. Started at a 660.
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on June 15, 2016
If you've read The Total Money Makeover, you don't really need this workbook. But if you haven't read Total Money Makeover, I wouldn't use this as a substitute - just go get the Total Money Makeover instead.

The baby steps are pretty straightforward:
Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund - you'll find this way easier than you expect to.
Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball - this takes a LOT of patience, but you can do it.
Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
Baby Step 5 – College funding for children
Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early
Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give

The rules are simple:
1) Live and breathe by your budget.
2) Attack your debt with a vengeance. Think about how your debt is holding you back and get mad at your debt.
3) Don't stray from the path.
4) As Dave says, "Live like no one else so you can live (and give) like no one else."

I listen to the podcast as well and it helps keep me thinking forward and remembering why I started my journey. Dave Ramsey's work can be life-changing, but you have to follow it to the letter. Don't try to do your own thing. That said, know that the rules are available widely online, and Ramsey didn't create this philosophy, he just made it easier to understand than anyone had in the past.
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on August 20, 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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I've always been interested in my finances and my husband and I jointly manage our family's finances so we both know what's going on. A friend at church was talking about Dave Ramsey and I had never heard of him before so I decided to look him up and see what kinds of books he wrote. I found this book to be a popular choice of his and I didn't know how much of it would interest me so I ended up borrowing it from the library initially. I enjoyed his writing and found the information to be helpful so I decided to purchase my own copy to reference at home.

The Total Money Makeover is a personal finance book written by Dave Ramsey. Ramsey is a financial expert as well as a Christian who has had his own money troubles in the past. He's overcome them and learned from his mistakes so he's passed along his wisdom in these pages. There are also many stories of people who have been in a tough spot financially who used this book to get themselves out of debt. This book is 237 pages long, contains 13 chapters, worksheets and a full index.

I found this book to be helpful and I really enjoyed reading it! Dave Ramsey writes in a no-nonsense fashion and if he says something is stupid or a bad idea, he will say exactly that. He doesn't beat around the bush. He provides step-by-step information on getting yourself out of debt and what to do if you have a crisis while you are working on getting yourself out of debt (he also refers to Murphy's Law quite a bit so something will always happen). I like how he tells us what types of companies, funds, etc to avoid and what ones are good ones. Even though he knows a lot about investments, he doesn't provide extensive investment information in this book but he does give some information on what types of funds he thinks are best based on trends.

I enjoyed this book so much that I told my sister about it and she said she wanted to read it too so I bought one for her and one for myself. I've told others about the book and I think it is helpful, no matter what your financial situation is. Some parts of the book didn't apply to us but I found the second half of it to be especially informative which is why I decided to buy a copy. Unless you already have millions of dollars in the bank and have all of your finances under control (retirement, investments, kids' college education, etc.), I think you'll find the information in this book to be useful.

If you have a lot of credit card debt and loans and want to get your finances under control, I highly recommend this book. Even if you don't have a lot of debt but you want to find a smarter way prepare for your kids' college education, this is a great book to read. It's very informative and you can also borrow a copy from a friend or the library first before you buy your own. I'm glad I bought it because the small investment in this book has caused us to take a closer look at our finances and see what we can do better. Overall, I feel it's worth the money and time to buy and read this book so you have a financially-fit future!
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on January 23, 2017
Within the 1st month this book saved me, I had the $1k saved and my fence blew down, no need for credit!! I wish I had this book 20 years ago when I was 20, but it's never to late. This is a must read.
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on May 13, 2018
After years of hearing and reading about The Total Money Makeover, I finally grabbed myself a copy and read the whole thing in one night. While I would not call myself a Dave Ramsey fan, there was definitely value in the book. He has 7 steps he suggests moving through:

1. Save $1000

Pretty straight forward. You need a bumper for the small emergencies. Shit happens.

2. Debt Snowball

The debt snowball approach is something quite valuable that took reading about in this book to fully grasp and get behind. It’s quite simple in its brilliance actually. You make a list of your debts from smallest to biggest (excluding mortgage) and focus all of your financial effort on one debt at a time (making only the minimum payment on all others), working your way down. Once you cross one off, you divert all the money you were paying on that debt to the next, with the payment size growing at each step. We only had 2 debts (1 car loan and the consolidated student loans) so it wasn’t too complicated. Still, it was helpful. I had been focusing on building the savings but diverted my attention and resources to stamping out the car loan instead. I can see how this technique could be life-saving for people who are overwhelmed with debtors.

A main tenet of his book is that we can and should all be debt-free. There is a lot that resonates with me about living a debt-free life and this is a message I hope more people hear and get inspired by. Minimalism and debt-free are very good friends. Though I’m not dogmatic or militant about it. There are times when debt has been advantageous in my life but we don’t take it lightly, only entering into it consciously, with eyes wide open and a clear plan.

3. 3-6 Months Expenses in Savings

Building up and maintaining a savings of 3-6 months expenses is the next focus only after all debts are paid. Companies go under. Employees get laid off. Freelance work experiences a drought. People get sick. Life happens. You need an emergency fund to get you through the hard times. In today’s professional climate, this is even more essential than in the past because the old working model of clocking in at 20 and retiring from the same company at 55 is dead. (I recently read The End of Jobs, which I recommend if you want to read more about that.) 3 years is actually the sweet spot in terms of job satisfaction and performance for being at a company. If you’re changing jobs every few years, the transitions can be sticky. You need a buffer.

4. 15% to Retirement (401K, ROTHIRA, Mutual Funds Investing)

There is one line he hammers throughout the entire book over and over again: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” He means that if you live a shitty life in your prime, you might enjoy a nice life when you are old and retired. Most of his examples throughout the book glorify families in which the parents work 3 jobs and rarely see their kids but by golly, they might have a nice savings if they make it to old age running themselves ragged. This is the heart of his philosophy and it’s one I completely disagree with. My philosophy is definitely more in line with Tim Ferris in that regard who urges you not to sacrifice your present for a future that may never come in the 4-hour work week (Ramsey actually even throws shade at Tim’s approach in this book). Particularly when there are children involved. My kids would rather have us present and be happy, healthy, rested, and homeschooling with a student loan floating out there than have us be absent working 3 jobs while they are in school and daycare with no student loan. These years are so important and while being debt free and financially healthy is a priority (we don’t use credit, we snowball, we budget, we save, we contribute to retirement), it is not the priority.

5. College Fund (ESA funded in growth stock mutual funds)

I appreciate that he does include a bit about college not being a golden ticket. If you want to read more about our approach to college for our 3 kids, check out Sage Homeschooling: Wild and Free.

6. Pay off Mortgage

This is where I hop off the Dave Ramsey train entirely. I know someone who had 3 houses paid off and then the real estate market crashed and they lost everything. I don’t plan to stay in the same house my entire life and I am happy to purchase a property with a mortgage, fix it up with a tight budget and lots of elbow grease, and sell it several years later when we are ready to move on to a new adventure (freedom of mobility). Also, the nation’s average income ($50K) paired with the cost of housing in a major city ($710K in Seattle), don’t line up for buying a house all cash. Again, his mindset around this is painfully outdated. The person he is talking to gets hired by Blockbuster out of college, works there 35 years, then retires and dies in their rocking chair on the porch. Norman Rockwell called and he wants his financial advice back. That is just not the world we live in anymore.

7. Build Wealth (invest)

He claims the only way to get rich is to invest in the stock market.

Overall, it’s a book worth reading. The first 3 steps alone should be knowledge every teenager launches knowing. The philosophy is not my jam and I could certainly do without the patriarchal overtones and bible verses, but a quick and easy read that adds value nonetheless.

I was hoping for some budgeting inspiration but found none in this book. I’m presently trying You Need a Budget. We’ll see . . .
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on May 7, 2017
Life altering financial plan. Love the simplicity, the common sense & the breakdown of steps to take to truly put your money to work for you - rather than continue to be slave to lenders.
Additionally, Dave Ramsey should be introduced to EVERY high school aged kid in this country - talk about cultural financial change!!!
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on June 17, 2017
Dave Ramsey's book allowed me to gain a new perspective about saving money, budgeting, and investing. I went from having saved no money (ever), to paying off debt and saving my first 10k. This book is well written, entertaining, and easy to understand. Dave does an amazing job of outlining the basics of changing harmful money habits. Overall GREAT read!
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on May 27, 2016
Most of the book can be summed up in his "Steps" chapter. There is alot of filler to convince you that the stuff in the book is worth doing, when i don't think we need as much convincing.
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