Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Success by Dave Ramsey educates the reader with common sense financial planning.  This book is not written for the wealthy, but all socio-economic walks of life.  Ramsey's financial wisdom can apply to the single mom with a $20,000 income or a family with a $70,000 income.  The strength of this book is that it can be applicable to everyone's financial situation- even those who find themselves unemployed and burdened with debt. The author offers a glimmer of hope- a way out of debt in a world where so many despair after losing jobs.

This release of the original classic is timely considering the large unemployment rates, and record high numbers of people collecting food stamps and other assistance.  A financially struggling society needs a book like this- filled with common sense steps as well as spiritual biblical insight.  One point of issue is that I do feel that Ramsey's income to housing ratio is either out of date, or not applicable to many places with very high costs of living such as New Jersey and California.  As Ramsey suggested, housing should not be over 40-45% of the gross income.  Yet, for many disadvantaged individuals and families who do not own homes and find they must rent, there is no way to avoid this discrepancy.  In NJ, it is the norm to find an average apartment under 1100 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom- to cost $1500 per month.  Housing costs are high even for a modest homes. Relocation to cheaper housing is not an option when it requires relocating to a new state.

This author addresses the psychology behind the science of saving money and budgeting.  He encourages simple "baby" steps in order to show the reader that it is possible to master their spending and saving.  He introduces simple to understand concepts- with concrete steps to follow.  This is not simply an academic book on the theory of budgets and savings.  Ramsey actually takes on the role of the personal life coach or accountant with specific steps and a plan to follow.  In cases where one's financial situation is so dire that the basic needs cannot even be met he challenges the reader with aggressive yet effective tactics- such as a second job or selling non essential or expensive items such as cars, boats, jewelry.  He even suggests garage sales as a way to squeeze out a bit of money.  Yet- this book isn't about accumulating money and wealth simply for the sake of accumulating wealth.  The author shares the greater purpose which is to reduce, and eliminate debt as well as the use of credit cards. Additionally, watching spending habits and making smart choices contributes to the sustainability of a budget. This book is a real eye opener as it educates the reader with valuable information about loans and debt. He provides interesting facts about the dangers of payday loans, rent to own payment plans, car payments and buying lottery tickets- explaining how  institutions and loan sharks  take advantage of the poor and desperate- creating an ongoing cycle of poverty. This book stats from the beginning with the "baby steps" of saving a smaller sized emergency fund- down to the more advanced final steps of paying off a mortgage and buying a car with cash and saving for retirement.  Throughout the book are real life stories of regular ordinary families and people who succeeded in their financial goals with Ramsey's money makeover plan.  The back of the book includes several very useful budgeting worksheets as well.  I feel like this book makes a great resource.  As a blogger for booksneeze I received this book published by Nelson Books, and imprint of Thomas Nelson publishers.

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