A few days back I wrote a post about a great way to pay off debt called Here’s A Tip To Become Debt Free – Use The Debt Snowball Method! I first learned about the debt snowball method for paying off debts in Dave Ramsey’s bestselling book “The Total Money Makeover.”
I thought to myself, since I wrote about Dave’s debt snowball, why not write a review of his whole book? I’ve read it a couple of times, so I think I have a good idea of his philosophy for dealing with money.
Dave’s book has been through three editions now, and I have the third one. The first one I bought I gave away after reading it. Then one year I gave copies to all of my kids for Christmas. Following Dave’s principles will bring financial independence and peace of mind to anyone who follows them, and I wanted my kids to at least know about them. Following them was their choice.
After some consideration, though, I think there is too much information in the book to do a thorough review in one post, so I’ve decided to break the book down into sections, and post reviews of each section.
Who Is Dave Ramsey?
And why is he qualified to teach financial freedom? Dave Ramsey, in his younger days, was a “whiz” in the real estate market. His net worth at age 26 was over $4,000,000 in real estate holdings. Then, within 3 years, he was bankrupt! Dave realized that he was smart with real estate, but was dumb with money. He decided that he needed to find out how money really works, how to control it, and how to confidently handle it.
This book gives the answer to his questions.
What The Book Is Not
This is in Dave’s own words. His book is NOT:
- NOT sophisticated or complicated
- NOT something that has never been said
- NOT going to mislead you on investment returns
- NOT written by someone with no academic credentials
- NOT politically correct
- NOT wrong
- NOT the same as his other books
- NOT getting any complaints or criticisms…from people who do it
The Normal American Family
The normal American family lives with debt. Mortgage, car payment, credit cards, student loans, and more are pretty much normal for all of us. Debt is a way of life, and most Americans can’t imagine what life would be like without their money going out the door to creditors every month.
Is this financial freedom? NO! Who can we blame for all the debt we have in our lives? The bank? The credit card companies? The car companies? Nope. If we want to find out the cause of the burden of debt we carry, we have to LOOK IN THE MIRROR! If we want to change our addiction to debt, we have to change that person looking back at us in the mirror.
Debt Myths vs Truth
One of the powerful (to me) chapters in The Total Money Makeover is Dave’s takedown of the myths regarding debt. Here are the myths, and the truth about them.
Myth: Debt is a tool and should be used to create prosperity. Truth: Debt adds considerable risk and usually doesn’t bring prosperity. Wealthy people don’t us debt nearly as much as we think.
Myth: If I loan money to friends or relatives, I am helping them. Truth: If I loan money to a friend or relative, the relationship will be strained or destroyed. The only relationship that would be enhanced is the kind resulting from one party being the master and the other party the servant. This is true, and many people avoid each other because one lent money to the other.
Myth: Cosigning a loan helps a friend or relative. Truth: Be ready to repay the loan; the bank wants a cosigner for a reason, which is that they don’t expect the friend or relative to pay their debt. I’ve cosigned before, and it wasn’t pleasant. I won’t do it again.
Myth: Cash Advance, Payday loans, Rent-to-own, etc. are needed to help lower-income people get ahead. Truth: These businesses are designed to take advantage of lower-income people and drive them deeper into debt. The only ones who get ahead are the owners of the rip-off companies.
Myth: Car payments are a way of life; you’ll always have one. Truth: You can drive a nice car without payments. The average millionaire does, and that’s how he became a millionaire. I wrote about this in a previous post.
Myth: Leasing a car is wise because you can take a tax advantage for the reason that the car depreciates. Truth: Consumer advocates, noted experts, and a good calculator will confirm that the car lease is the most expensive way to operate a car.
Myth: You should get a credit card to build your credit. Truth: It’s a myth that we need to get into debt st show that we can handle debt because debt is how we get stuff. Living without debt is possible and preferable.
Myth: You need a credit card to rent a car, check into a hotel, or buy online. Truth: You can do all that with a debit card.
Myth: If you pay off your credit card every month, you get to use someone else’s money for free. Truth: 60 percent of credit card holders don’t pay them off every month.
Myth: Getting your teenager a credit card so he or she will learn to be responsible with money is a good idea. Truth: That’s an excellent way to teach your teen to be financially irresponsible. That’s why teens are the #1 target of credit card companies.
Myth: Debt consolidation saves interest, and you have a smaller payment. Truth: it’s dangerous. You’re only treating the symptom and the temptation is strong to start using those credit cards again because they all have so much “available credit” on them.
That’s not all the myths Dave lists, there are a few more that I’ve left out. All the myths Dave writes about in his book are exposed for what they are, but most of us have been taught to believe the myth and not the truth. We’ve come to believe the spin.
That takes us through the first three chapters of Dave’s book. I”ve summarized the myths, in the book each one is treated to a page or two of explanation and examples. There are also inspirational stories of people who have used the book to become debt free, and the relief and happiness they feel for having overcome debt.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is tired of being in debt and wants to find a realistic and honorable way to get out and stay out. Stay tuned for Part 2.
Thanks for reading my post. Feel free to leave a comment.