Dave Ramsey: Advice for The Total Money Makeover

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the best Dave Ramsey advice about money? What is Ramsey’s experience and why does he have expertise?

From Dave Ramsey, advice is focused on making better money decisions now. You set yourself up for a better life later.

Read on for Dave Ramsey’s advice about money.

Dave Ramsey: Advice for Finances

For Dave Ramsey, advice comes from his experience. Ramsey’s story is an example. He got into a financial hole while in his late twenties by overspending and borrowing, while saving too little. He had borrowed and invested in real estate, even becoming a millionaire. But within three years, he and his family (his wife and two small children) were bankrupt. Feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, he began reading about finance and about how millionaires managed their money, and he realized that his behavior was the real problem. When he took responsibility for his finances, things began turning around.

Your money makeover begins with the same challenge: changing yourself. 

If financial success were easy, everyone would be successful. What to do isn’t a mystery: most people know what to do—they just don’t do it due to the challenge of changing their behavior. Managing your money successfully is 80% behavior and 20% knowledge. This book gives you the knowledge, but you have to take the steps to change.

The Total Money Makeover has worked for thousands of people. But as with any situation, winning requires paying a price of short-term sacrifices.

The Money Makeover Motto

The program’s motto is: live differently from everyone else in the present so you can live differently from everyone else in the future. This means that to live a better life than most people, you need to do what most people won’t do—make sacrifices now in return for the payoff of financial security later.

For example, it means not buying a new car or a bigger house or putting a large-screen TV on credit. It may mean working longer hours to pay down debt. As you work harder and forego buying things others are buying, the motto reminds you that the payoff will be worth it.

Two Money Makeover converts, Mark and Kari, struggled with student loans, a car lease, credit card debt, and a big mortgage, but undertook this book’s challenge and, in a six-month period, paid off $57,000 and donated $7,000 to their church. The key was transitioning from credit to cash, then realistically assessing their income and choosing to start living below their means. The payoff was peace of mind and the control they gained from being debt-free.

Stories like these appear throughout the book as encouragement and evidence that the program works. However, remember that the Total Money Makeover works only to the extent that you apply it.

The fix for your financial situation isn’t a bigger salary, a windfall, or a better job, but acknowledging your bad decisions are your own fault and changing your behavior. This book lays out what you need to do, but only you can do it.

Dave Ramsey: Advice for The Total Money Makeover

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Total Money Makeover summary:

  • The 7 steps to achieving financial stability (you'll love #7)
  • A fool-proof plan for becoming debt-free
  • How myths about debt and money are crippling your financial health

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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