Dave Ramsey’s Tips: 2 Obstacles You Must Overcome

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 are Dave Ramsey’s tips for financial health? How do Dave Ramsey’s tips help you overcome obstacles?

Dave Ramsey’s tips are focused on a variety of issues related to controlling your money. Total Money Makeover identifies the obstacles you need to overcome to get on the path to financial health.

Read on for more about Dave Ramsey, tips for financial health, and the obstacles that may be in your way.

Dave Ramsey: Tips and Obstacles

Besides the myths about debt and money and denial that you have a money problem, there are two more obstacles to a Total Money Makeover: lack of financial knowledge (ignorance) and peer pressure (overspending to “keep up with the Joneses”).

Financial Ignorance

Ignorance about money makes some people defensive, but financial knowledge isn’t something you’re born with—it’s a skill you need to learn, like how to drive a car. If you give the car keys to someone who doesn’t know how to drive, they’re going to crash the car. Trying again harder isn’t the answer—it’s getting proper training. The same is true of money management—people make financial mistakes due to lack of training.

We’re educated in how to earn money, but not in what to do with it. Given that the average family in the U.S. makes over $2 million in a lifetime, high schools and colleges should be teaching personal finance. If you haven’t learned financial management, you still can by doing the following:

  • Acknowledge that finance is something you were never taught.
  • Read the rest of this book.
  • Resolve to learn about handling money.
  • Read regularly about financial management and attend an occasional seminar.

For Dave Ramsey, tips for this obstacle focus on analogizing this problem to other life issues. You’d take similar steps to improve your marriage, by reading and attending a class or retreat. You don’t need to become an expert, but you should spend as much time on your 401(k) options as you do planning your vacation. Remaining ignorant will just keep you poor.

Dave Ramsey’s Tips About Peer Pressure

Most people want to fit in and look successful to others, which can mean overspending to live a showy lifestyle. For Dave Ramsey, tips are related to the mindset about your lifestyle.

However, going into debt to impress friends and neighbors who also are in debt isn’t success. If you want to be truly successful, you should learn and emulate the habits of wealthy people, not financial fakes.

Professor Tom Stanley studied the lifestyles of millionaires in the 1990s. He writes in The Millionaire Next Door that, contrary to what most people think, the typical millionaire lives modestly in a middle-class home, drives a used car paid for with cash, and buys clothing from discount stores.

Unlike those who spend to keep up with the Joneses, wealthy people don’t strive for approval, but for financial security, by living below their means so they can grow their wealth. (Shortform note: Read our summary of The Millionaire Next Door here.)

In contrast, because of debt, average people often have a negative net worth. It’s hard to change when you like your nice things and you don’t want to admit to yourself or others that you’re broke. 

The Total Money Makeover requires giving up the drive for approval and undergoing a change of heart about how you view spending and debt. For example, it might require that you stand up to your family and reject the tradition of going into debt to buy a Christmas gift for each extended family member. 

In addition, you need to recognize your weak spot, where you can’t seem to stop overspending. Everyone has one—for example, excessive clothes shopping, giving money to adult children, or buying expensive vehicles. Until you acknowledge your weakness, you’ll be susceptible to temptation in that area.

Ramsey’s weak spot was cars. He got a Jaguar (with the help of a cosigner) because he thought it would bring him respect and admiration. Even after going broke, he kept the car but couldn’t afford the upkeep or payments. His cosigner finally quit making payments and Ramsey was forced to sell the car a day before it was to be repossessed. 

Eventually, he straightened out his financial mess and realized the harm he’d caused for the sake of a status symbol. He renounced status cars and began buying only common used cars with cash. 

If you’re doing anything with money in order to win respect, you still need to change at heart before you’ll succeed in a Total Money Makeover.

Dave Ramsey’s Tips: 2 Obstacles You Must Overcome

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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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