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The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  66,244 ratings  ·  5,254 reviews
If you will live like no one else, later you can "live" like no one else.

Build up your money muscles with America's favorite finance coach.

Okay, folks, do you want to turn those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash machine? Then get with the program, people. There's one sure
Hardcover, 229 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Nelson Books (first published 2003)
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Nathan Glenn I don't know that he has original catchy phrases like this one, but he does elaborate on the reality of this one at length. If you only want a collect…moreI don't know that he has original catchy phrases like this one, but he does elaborate on the reality of this one at length. If you only want a collection of short phrases like that, you can just read proverbs. He quotes that quite extensively.

This book is not meaty, though. If you're curious then get it from a library and skim it in an evening. That's what I did!(less)
Shauna Marvel It started going into the steps about half way threw. He could have shortened the book by a lot if it were not for tooting his own horn and his condes…moreIt started going into the steps about half way threw. He could have shortened the book by a lot if it were not for tooting his own horn and his condescending attitude. save yourself the money and just watch a you tube video on what his steps are.

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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 respect Dave Ramsey as a person and agree with many (maybe most) of his financial principles, but I didn't like Ramsey's strict no-debt
Recently, a good friend of mine who knew that I had read this book asked me whether or not I found it helpful. This friend has struggled with managing her personal finances and is drowning in credit card debt. She was feeling pretty hopeless and was worried that she'd never be able to take care of her bills and set enough aside for retirement.

Rather than go into the ins and outs of the book, I downloaded the audiobook version and we listened together while working on paperwork during the work d
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Anita L.
Aug 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book is great for those who are in debt because of overspending. Unfortunately Dave Ramsey groups everyone in the same category with the undisciplined, regardless of their background. He uses unrealistic examples of people having a mortgage of $50,000, or someone paying $250/month for a small apartment while paying off debt. He uses examples of young people in their mid-twenties making $50,000 a year. These are completely unrealistic numbers in most regions of the country.

He proudly says th
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-audios
*Listened to the audio version of this book*
Nov 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: finance-business
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!
Tonya Aiossa
Feb 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
If you like animated religious sermons, Fox News infomercials and make payments on your Lexus with payday loans then this book is for you.

I'm still on the hunt for a book that will teach me how to invest.
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm temporarily - I hope - departing from my usual review style while life is crazy and we're in the construction zone. I'm trying this rather than no review at all. I'm basically going to make occasional notes as I read, which is not as satisfactory to me, but hopefully they'll still be helpful.

5/28/19: I'm not the financial manager for my home. My husband is. But I decided to listen to this book because I've heard good things about Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University course. We did
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Neelam Babul
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was always someone who wanted to manage their personal finance effectively. However, due to my own carelessness or circumstances, I failed to achieve that goal.

After reading this book, I actually realized where I was going wrong and how I could ensure financial stability in my life. The book starts off with debunking myths that every individual has with regards to wealth and money usage.

The book then goes on to provide 7 steps we can incorporate into our lives to ensure we acquire financial a
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
MrsJoseph *grouchy*
6 years, 3 months

--Pre review --

I'm very familiar with Dave Ramsey (I was introduced to him by my husband). I like both him and Suze Orman (but for different reasons).

This is more of a twofer for me: I get a refresher course on not spending all my damn money AND I knock this book off Mt. TBR. Win/Win.

When I first started listening to Dave's radio show + podcasts (20years+), I was certainly part of his target audience: someone who was never taught about finance and made bad financial decisions.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-audiobook
Giselle wanted the two of us to listen to this, and I got a few things out of it for sure - but much of it doesn't apply to every situation, regardless of how much the author wants you to think it does. Also the audiobook was kind of hilarious because it's just a guy yelling at you - literally - for 4 hours, haha.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book contains very helpful steps regardless of what your income is or how much debt you have. I also appreciated the plethora of stories from regular people with a variety of backgrounds explaining how the Total Money Makeover worked for them. I’ll definitely read this again and implement this system!
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 is basic, common
Apr 14, 2011 rated it liked it
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,
Apr 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I won this book as part of a prize from a radio quiz contest.

Dave Ramsey is a radio talk show host of The Total Money Makeover. It's on every weekend.

This book basically repeats everything he says on his show: Invest your money wisely, stay out of debt, etc. A lot of the advice is just common sense, but some of it is pretty handy.

If you like his radio show, you'll like the book. If not, you pay your money and take your chances.
Melanie Kilsby
Very practical and biblically sound advice!

This book will hit you in the gut and make you shake your head at the same time. It will be hard to listen to and even harder to do. But, will be beneficial to you in the end.

Dave likens a lot of his advice to working out and getting in shape. He paints the view of someone working hard to ride his bike up the mountain, pushing all the way to the top with "gazelle" like attitude. Once there, enjoy the wind and breeze flying down.

I like this book for man
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was given to us by my wife’s aunt as a wedding gift. My wife and I are nearing our five year anniversary and my only regret is that I didn’t read this book sooner. I’ve always known about Dave Ramsey and his plan, but after starting the Total Money Makeover a few years ago I take back anything negative I’ve ever said about him.

This book dispels a lot of common money myths and breaks them down to their smallest components. Not only does he prove them false but he gives several better a
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I didn't read this whole thing. I've read it before. I just read about 1/2 of it and skimmed the rest so I could re-motivate myself in the area of my finances. I didn't read most of the personal stories, but think they're great in helping people to see that Dave Ramsey's plan really works. I like how the "baby steps" are very practical and make the idea of being debt free seem an achievable goal. I'm in!
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Dave Ramsey, the nationally-syndicated radio host of "The Money Game" and bestselling author, has helped thousands through Financial Peace University-a 12-week financial planning program. He presents seminars in churches and corporations throughout the country. He holds a degree in finance and real estate and lives with his family in Nashville Tennessee.

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