This week, The Simple Dollar is conducting a detailed review of radio host Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. This book is basically a printed distillation of Dave’s “financial preacher man” style on his radio show. Is there serious meat to be found here, or is it a bunch a fluff around a few small ideas? Let’s find out.
It is important to note that prior to these concepts, the book instructs the reader to pay off all debts except for the home loan and build up a six month emergency fund before moving on.
First, start paying for your retirement. Dave advocates pretty strongly that one should save 15% of their income towards retirement using the basic formula of paying into the work retirement plan until you reach the matching cap, then maximizing a Roth IRA contribution, then putting the rest in the work retirement plan. It’s the basic rule of every retirement advisor because it works.
Second, start paying for the kid’s college education. This chapter felt sort of wishy-washy, mostly because Dave strongly hinted that a child learns more if they have to pay for college themselves than if their parents cover it for them. Still, a well-funded 529 savings program is recommended.
Third, pay off that home mortgage. Once the first two items are in place, you should be paying off that home mortgage as fast as you can. He advocates getting into a 15 year mortgage and still overpaying each payment if you can, just so you can get the mortgage finished off much faster.
Now it gets fun. If you’ve trained yourself well enough to reach this point, you should know very well how to manage your money and suddenly you’ll have more of it floating around than you can imagine. The rest of the book focuses on this stage in life, which we are all striving for: keep some goals, remember who you are, and keep investing.
Tomorrow, I’ll give a “buy or don’t buy” recommendation on this book that might surprise you a bit.
The Total Money Makeover is the fifth of fifty-two books in The Simple Dollar’s series 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks.