Thursday, May 9, 2013


“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”
Mark Twain

By: Dave Ramsey
Genre: Non-fiction, finance, budgeting, debt freedom 

I must confess I didn’t just read this book.  I first read it about six years ago.  At that time I read it and thought “We should try this”, but that is as far as it went.

Then in December 2008 I read it again and decided to really give it a go.  Little did I know at that time we would be unemployed two months later, and stay that way  for eighteen months.  I had no idea at the time I read it and decided to follow the plan that we would get through that time of great financial inconvenience not only staying fairly current on all our bills, but actually payoff some smaller bills as we struggled financially each month.

Over the next four years I have re-read this book numerous times and found guidance  and inspiration every time I’ve needed it.  Today we have been free of using credit cards for nearly four years, our indebtedness has dropped to less than half of what we once owed.

If all goes as scheduled we will be totally debt free, house and everything, in 18-24 months.  All thanks to the guides offered in this book.

The book itself is really an easy read where finances are concerned.  I’m a math nerd and over the years I have read numerous books on finances, investing and similar books.  Quite frankly many of those books cause my eyes to glaze over.  They are so technical, or preachy that I’ve often not finished some of them.  Or I’ve gleaned one or two items from them and ignored the rest.

Not so with “The Total Money Makeover.”  In it Dave Ramsey takes you through the baby steps of becoming debt free.  DR does not talk down to you, but instead tells of his own personal trek from being in bankruptcy with a wife and small children to being debt free and a millionaire. 

On his radiotalk show he says he gives the same advice your grandma would give you, but he keeps his teeth in.   This type of humor is throughout the book. 

As he walks you through the baby steps he gives personal stories of not only his family, but of others who have followed the baby steps to gain financial freedom.

From the very beginning he leads you through the different stages of going from being a slave to your creditors to total financial freedom. 

He starts the book with telling you in the introduction what this book is NOT about.   It is NOT a “get rich quick” book.  It is simple basic common sense. 

As the book progresses he dispels many money myths, and points out obvious things you would not normally think of.  A fine example of this is have you ever considered why there are no Pay Day Loan, or Pay at the Lot car dealerships in affluent neighborhoods?  The answer is simple, those companies will charge you such high interest and feed off the financially desperate.  Often they charge as much as 300% interest and no affluent person would ever pay that, they wouldn’t be affluent if they did.  So why should those who can least afford to pay it? He gives you alternatives that you can do for free or near free to avoid such places.

You are walked through the steps of setting up a budget, how to get current on your bills, common sense on what bills should be paid and in what order.  Most importantly how to deal with the financial bottom feeding bill collectors. I will not lie to you, it is not going to be easy every step of the way.  The very first baby step is to put $1,000 into savings for an emergency fund.  For some of us that is extremely hard to do, but he gives  you suggestions on how to get that $1,000. 

The strange thing is once you get that $1,000 you realize a certain sense of freedom.  You have a cushion, a safety net.  You will also find you guard that $1,000 furiously.  What once before  you perceived as an emergency, becomes an “I want” and will often become an “I can wait on it, until there is money in the budget.” 

Obviously there will be times, as in our case, the hot water tank went out before our household repair sinking fund was fully funded and we had to use part of the baby emergency fund to have hot water for showers. 

This, of course, put us back on baby step one temporarily, but we found the second time we had to fund the emergency fund it was easier. 

As time goes on he walks you through snowballing your bills toward being debt free and beyond your bills to plan for a future of financial freedom.

Most people, if they follow the book, will be debt free in two years or less.  Our journey was of course slowed down by our debt load,  by being unemployed for eighteen months, followed by employment that was 25% less financially than we had previously enjoyed.  I will also admit that we have not been gazelle intense the entire time.  Hey, we’re human!

I could write volumes about what I’ve learned along the way from the writings in this book, but it would be better if you read it yourself.

I must add one thing here.  One person, who was on the verge of losing their home, I suggested this book to angrily told me I was a fool for following it, that the only way such books help anyone financially is the author who sells the book, and all the add ons that could go with it.  Today that person still has their home, but only because a family member caught the loan on it up for him and they are still struggling to put food on the table.

I personally have spent ZERO money to do the plan in this book.  I originally checked it out of the library for FREE.  Later a good friend gave me a copy of the book as a gift so I wouldn’t have to keep re-checking the book from the library.  I listen to the Dave Ramsey radio show both on my computer and on my radio for FREE.  I get emotional support for free from the folks on the  . My family and I follow the plan for FREE and as a result we are becoming FREEEEEEE from debt.

Yes, DR does sell books, he does sell cds, cash envelope wallets, and numerous other things, but you do NOT have to buy any of it to follow the plan set forth in the book.  You can be free for free. All you have to do is read the book and follow the baby steps.

Jan who says the smartest thing she ever did financially was to read Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” and follow the plan in OK

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