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The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  30,345 ratings  ·  2,821 reviews
A Thomas Nelson Kindle book.
Kindle Edition, 227 pages
Published (first published 2003)
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Mateo From what I saw while reading it -- Slightly changed introduction, added/modified chapter at the start that talks about the 2008 recession, and…moreFrom what I saw while reading it -- Slightly changed introduction, added/modified chapter at the start that talks about the 2008 recession, and updated testimonials from people who have used the book. (less)
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Chad Warner
Ramsey presents some sound financial principles in the book, but it came across as a sales pitch because he mentions his other books and live events, and practically every other page contains a lengthy testimonial from people gushing about their Total Money Makeover. I skipped all of these since I'm looking for practical financial advice, not feel-good stories.

I didn't like Ramsey's strict no-debt stance. The only exception he allows for is a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Although I agree that mo
Sep 07, 2007 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who's ever been in debt!
Buy it, live it! An amazing system that's not a system--just living within one's means. Worth the investment many times over!
Jan 25, 2008 Melissa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I read Financial Peace years ago. We tried to live the plan, but looking back we could have done a lot better. The Total Money Makeover takes the same plan and breaks it down into more detailed babysteps. This REALLY works! We've had our $1000 emergency saving account for years now and have hardly had to dip into it because we really think through what an emergency is. Most of the time we have been able to wait a few weeks until the "extra paycheck," tax return or a bonus comes through instead o ...more
Sep 29, 2007 Cori rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't have their finances in order
From my blog:

My friend Amanda was nice enough to buy me Dave Ramsey's book. It must mean it's pretty good if someone else is willing to shell out $25.00 to buy you a book on money management! This book was really repetitive, but I thought it was a fantastic planning tool for those of us who aren't making a gobzillion dollars doing...whatever Paris Hilton does, for example. I have a small bit of debt -- mostly due to 2007: The Year of Dental Nightmares -- and literally no savings. I had quite a b
Tonya Aiossa
Feb 20, 2008 Tonya Aiossa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People in debt.
Recommended to Tonya by: Mom (Bonnie)
I probably should have given this book more than three stars, because it's a good start to figuring out a critical piece of the financial puzzle; getting out of debt. This book is debt-centric, so, if you're in debt, then yes, you really should read this book.

However, while focusing on getting out of debt is a crucially important step of freeing up your income (because if the money you make every month is spent every month, you're not financially fit), there are many aspects of your financial se
This guy's claim is basically that the key to accumulating a lot of money is to (1) become debt free, (2) save a sizeable nest egg (3-10k)for the big emergencies that typically send people into debt in the first place, and (3) put the rest of your savings in mutual funds. He's particularly insistent that you suck it up and drive old cars that you've paid cash for rather than make payments on a new car.
Good advice, but it would help if he offered more insights on how to follow it, especially sin
Nov 18, 2007 Shane rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to get out of debt and have financial freedom from that bondage
This book is a great step by step plan to help you get control of your finances by walking you through the 7 baby steps.
1. Small Emergency Fund of $1000
2. Pay off all debt except house with debt snowball
3. Fully Fund Emergency Fund to 3-6x of living expenses
4. Invest 15% of income for retirement
5. Fund kids college fund
6. Pay off mortgage
7. Have fun, give and invest

Definitely a must read and the companion website is hands down the best most practical website I've eve
This book is so helpful, straightforward, and inspiring. I have spent my twenties in the misery of consumer debt and student loans.

I am now credit card debt free and am busting up my student loans.

I like his advice. The very first thing you do is to get 1,000 dollars together BEFORE you start tackling your credit cards. Be aggressive, take a second job, sell your prized possessions, whatever, but get that $1,000. This is not $$ to keep in a checking account but in a savings account and with dr
Mar 14, 2008 Tim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people in debt (hi Meagan)
This is a pretty decent plan for getting out of debt and starting to invest. In the time-honored tradition of such self-help books as How To Win Friends and Influence People, Ramsey uses personal stories from other people to drive his points home.

But in essence, the plan is like this:
1) stop buying things, sell off everything you don't need, stop using credit cards, etc.
2) save up a $1000 emergency fund
3) throw all possible cash toward paying off your smallest debt
4) once the first debt is pai
Mar 20, 2008 Jen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. The principles apply to the general population.
Recommended to Jen by: A co-worker and good friend
Shelves: finance
Let me preface this by saying that I'm a HUGE fan of Dave Ramsey, so of course I'm a bit biased. I listen to his talk radio show every day without fail, and I'm an active member of his subscription website called MyTMMO (

My husband and I began working the baby steps in September 2005. It took us 22 long months of discipline and sacrifice to become completely debt-free. We don't own a home yet, so yes, we really are living the debt-free life. We paid off more
Jun 14, 2007 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Shelves: finance
I love Dave Ramsey. We have been doing the Total Money Makeover since Jan 1 of this year (we started after reading Dave's book "Financial Peace") and we are already seeing plenty of success with our baby steps. We pay for everything in cash now and if we don't have the cash, we don't buy it. We've got an emergency fund in place and have used it when things came up - auto repairs, etc. And best of all, we are in debt reduction mode - we had cut up all the credit cards Jan 1 and now we only see ba ...more
This book is an insult to the intelligence of any rational human being who has even the slightest notion of what personal finance is all about. Full of filler, fluff, weak-sauce stories trying to be inspirational.

Let me tell you in one sentence what this book took over 200 pages to tell:

Take personal responsibility for your finances and start living within your means; you'll be happy and wealthy eventually because of it.

Don't read this book!
After hearing about Dave Ramsey from a number of people, I decided to pick this up out of curiosity. I skimmed this book quickly, partly because it is mostly fluff. His crams the book full of testimonials about other families who have gotten out of debt- that's for the outside of the book, not the inside of it. Most of his actual advice (pay for things with cash, don't buy what you can't afford, live below your means, start investing for retirement early) consists of things my parents have been ...more
Thank you Tulsa Blizzard 2011 for helping me finish this book in two days.

What makes this book so effective and successful is that it lays out a very appealing vision, which motivates the reader to make the dramatic changes necessary to become financially secure. By the end of the book, you are motivated and energized to do whatever it takes to achieve the vision of wealth described in this book. The best part is that it’s totally doable and no kind of hoax. Like the author says, there’s no exc
Oct 11, 2011 Yolanda added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to Yolanda by: Misty Green-Brown
I can not believe that I've spent the last 12 years working in the Accounting field being such a good steward of my employers money but could never get a good grasp on my own money. The Total Money Makeover book has helped me go from paycheck-to-paycheck-thinking to wealth-building-thinking. Once my eyes were opened (I read the book in 2 days) I knew my financial life would never be the same. I asked my husband to read the book and when he started sending me texts like: Do you know that if we in ...more
My husband & I have come up with a budget & decided to follow Dave Ramsey's 7 step plan to become completely debt free, including our mortgage! We are very excited about it! Our goal is to get to the point where we can pay cash for everything, build wealth & plan for retirement by investing, have fun, & give to others.

The great thing about this plan is that it is NOT a "Get-Rich-Quick Scheme". It will take a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but it will be worth it in the end! It
Feb 20, 2008 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!!
Shelves: personal-finance
Reading this book, and implementing Dave's financial strategy, has changed our life, and made it so much less stressful. We were able to do what we thought would be impossible, and pay off all our debt other than our home, plus, we are very close to completing baby step 3 (3-6 mths living expenses in savings). A couple years ago, I would have never thought it would be possible--and we even added another family member since then! So thankful we read this book!
Viet Nguyen
This is a very inspirational book about personal finance. And I highly recommend the audio book version, with motivational narration from Dave Ramsey himself. To a beginner to personal finance like me, this is a really good start: it shows how I have to be responsible with my own money, avoid debt, and how to allocate the money for all my goals in life. The interesting thing that it works for all people, but of course, it requires a huge amount of discipline, tenacity, and focus. Also, this is n ...more
I basically like the plan Dave Ramsey provides for helping people get out of debt and create wealth in their lives, though I have some problems with his advice. Basically, the plan is to build $1000 in emergency savings, list all debts from smallest to largest regardless of interest rates, and begin to throw all extra money at the smallest debt until it's paid off, and continue to do it each month until you are debt free. I think this is basically a good plan but I take issue with the fact that ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!!!!
If you haven't read this book YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. I was barely introduced to Dave Ramsey's book and ideas less than a month ago and they make soooo much sense! I feel like I finally have the know how to do what I want with our money. We finally set up a budget that actually works. We have had a budget for a long time but there always seems to be something that comes up that ruins it for us (sometimes I literally used to think why bother.) This last month we stuck to it because Dave's pla ...more
This book, now in its 3rd edition, has been read and reviewed enough that there is nothing new I can add. But I just finished it and here are some things I took away: The plan requires significant discipline and work. But if implemented with diligence, the plan will work. It is less about the numbers (i.e., the absolute best return), than it is about peace concerning your finances. Though hard, the plan is simple. Stop accumulating new debt, get rid of your current debt, save for retirement, and ...more
Before I start on my review I have a confession: I have a serious book issue. I don't know how to read one book at a time or even two. At this writing I am reading four books--2 religious books, a fiction book, and while I did finish this book, I just picked up a new book today. I've got to stop!

Anyway, this book came highly recommended by my best friend and her husband and I'm very grateful that I read it. While Dave Ramsey enjoys much financial success today, that wasn't always the case. In fa
First of all, Dave Ramsey is a Christian entertainer. Like Dr. Laura, Dave springboards his books from his talk radio shows and life experiences. His advice is simple and folks starting early in life do well to heed his advice on debt and that is….no debt. It all gets a bit murky for those of us who have learned essential money truths later in life, yet there are some embraceable suggestions to be found within the pages of both Ramsey’s “Peace” and “Makeover.” It is the advice my Grandparents wo ...more
I am a total fan! I strongly recommend EVERYONE read this book, regardless of your financial situation. I would consider myself pretty financially savy and I still learned a lot of great things to do. Dave Ramsey hits the nail on the head about everything. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is that he brings spirituality and balance about your personal finances into the picture. If you don't know who Dave Ramsey is, he has a nationally syndicated radio show devoted to finances. He ...more
I'm always cautious about books or products which supposedly save you money. What's the old adage? "How do you make a lot of money? Write a book about how to make a lot of money"
This book did that annoying thing where it spends the first few chapters telling you how great the system works, but doesn't give the system out until the second half of the book. I'm not a fan of that particular literary device.
Also, I felt like many pages of "success stories" were overkill. A few would have been great,
Don't do debt. Debts are bad. M'kay?
Robert Terrell
Mixed feelings. I really like his simple advice. It isn't anything new with Ramsey but I think he does an excellent job of hammering it home. On the other hand, two thirds of the book is basically "you'll learn this later in the book" and comes across to me as "motivational speakerish" buy my products type writing. I also have a few foundational differences with Ramsey.

He constantly says if you want to be rich you should study the rich people and he kind of assumes that you should want to be ri
Sep 25, 2007 Evige rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!!
I love Dave Ramsey. I first got stuck on his radio show. His listeners call in about financial questions and he tells it like it is with little to no tact, I think that's why I like it so much. Listening to eveyone's financial problems makes me feel so much better about myself. Search your am station for Dave Ramsey, I know you will love him and learn very uesfull info. The book is awesome with a gameplan you can live by.
Brittani Croft
I feel like I'm lightyears ahead of everyone else my age because of reading this at 22. I am already pretty diligent with money, but Dave has a really practical approach that you can implement at whatever stage of life you are in. I'm interested to see where we are with this in 6 months, a year, etc.
This made me feel hopeful about our financial future…like I can dream again. My husband will love that. I appreciate the simplicity of this book. He gives a disclaimer that most of what is in the book is not new information and that was true. He said “we give the same financial advice your grandma would give, only we keep our teeth in.” I wish I had read this kind of book as a teenager and I think every newlywed could use it.

I liked the steps he gives to go along with the financial information.
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David L. Ramsey III (b. September 3, 1960) is an American financial writer, radio and television host.

More about Dave Ramsey...
Financial Peace Revisited EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches More than Enough: The Ten Keys to Changing Your Financial Destiny Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money: The Handbook of Financial Peace University

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“We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.” 393 likes
“For your own good, for the good of your family and your future, grow a backbone. When something is wrong, stand up and say it is wrong, and don't back down.” 37 likes
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