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.
This book is basically a distillation of the “Dave Ramsey philosophy” into the form of a self-help book that, in terms of language, has more in common with books like Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now or Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People than with typical personal finance books. If you’re looking for motivation more than for technical personal finance advice, this book will have a lot of appeal; if you’re looking for specifics on how certain investments work, you might not like this one.
Of course, the Dave Ramsey philosophy has its own quirks, as anyone who has listened to his radio show will know. Dave is a big proponent of the “no debt” perspective, meaning that you should pay for everything using only cash. This philosophy is a constant throughout this book, underlining all of the ideas that Dave presents.
In fact, the plan in a nutshell is to save $1,000 as an emergency fund, pay off all your debts, build up a six month emergency fund, then start saving to buy things never using a loan. He’s against credit cards in every form and basically eschews credit in every possible form.
Dave has a very, very strong voice (if you’ve listened to his show, this is pretty obvious) and it continually shines through here, almost to the point of being abrasive. This makes for entertaining reading, but it can almost be distracting from his main points.
The real question, though, is whether this philosophy and this writing style have enough meat on the bones to make an entire book worth reading. Over the next three days, I’ll highlight some of the specific lessons that Ramsey offers in this book and then, on Friday, give my usual “buy or don’t buy” recommendation.
The Total Money Makeover is the fifth of fifty-two books in The Simple Dollar’s series 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks.