Monday, January 12, 2009

The Total Money Makeover - Part 1

Before I begin reviewing this book, I want to be totally upfront. Doug and I are certified as financial counselors through Dave Ramsey's organization, and we have led Dave's Financial Peace University classes at our church for nearly 4 years. We selected Dave Ramsey's program over others because of the breadth and depth of the topics he covers. That said, we vehemently agree with approximately 95% of his recommendations...others we promote with a bit of reality and personal experience that offers a reasonable alternative.

Who is Dave Ramsey?
According to the bio in the back of his book, Dave is the best-selling author of More Than Enough and the enormously successful Financial Peace. His radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show, is heard on more than 300 radio stations throughout the U. S. and transmits Ramsey's inimitable financial advice to more than 3 million listeners each week. Many national corporations as well as hundreds of thousands of individuals have benefited from Ramsey's Financial Peace University program and his many LIVE events.

In the introduction to the book, Dave tells us that his book is NOT:
- Sophisticated or complicated,
- Something that has never been said,
- Going to mislead you on investment returns,
- written by someone with no academic credentials
- politically correct
- wrong
- the same as his other books,
- getting any complaints or criticisms from people who follow it.

Dave shares his financial background with us. He has a degree in finance and licenses in real estate, insurance, and investments. But he feels that his most important qualification to teach about money is that he has "done stupid with zeroes on the end!" He knows what it is like to be "scared and scarred" by poor financial decisions and to face potential divorce because of financial stress. He and his wife used the principles spelled out in the book to recover from the brink of bankruptcy to a position of personal wealth. He has been there and he has learned how to not only survive, but thrive.

Dave promises that if we "will follow the guidelines of his proven system of sacrifice and discipline, we can be debt-free, begin saving, and give as we've never given before. We will build wealth. He also promises that it is totally up to us...this is no magic formula."

A Look at the Contents:

1. The Total Money Makeover Challenge
2. Denial: I'm Not THAT Out of Shape
3. Debt Myths: Debt is (Not) a Tool
4. Money Myths: The (Non) Secrets of the Rich
5. Two More Hurdles: Ignorance and Keeping Up with the Joneses
6. Save $1,000 Fast: Walk Before You Run
7. The Debt Snowball: Lose Weight Fast, Really
8. Finish the Emergency Fund: Kick Murphy Out
9. Maximize Retirement Investing: Be Financially Healthy for Life
10. College Funding: Make Sure the Kids Are Fit Too
11. Pay Off the Home Mortgage: Be Ultrafit
12. Build Wealth Like Crazy: Arnold Schwarzedollar, Mr. Universe of Money
13. Live Like No One Else
Budgeting Forms

Book Layout:
The book is written in relatively large print (great for those of us whose arms aren't long enough to hold books so we can read them!) with lots of white space. There are a lot of personal success stories interspersed in each chapter that are both inspiring and tangible. There are meaningful sidebars and good use of highlighting to focus your attention. In the back, Dave has included simple financial forms for your use.

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