I enjoy discussions about my finances about as much as I enjoy talking about my weight. I certainly need to work on both, but I'd prefer to avoid the topics if at all possible, thank you very much. Can I get an "amen"?
Dave Ramsey, radio talk show host, author and all-around financial guru, is no stranger to this ostrich routine. After his own bankruptcy he came to the conclusion that the key to financial (and physical) fitness isn't knowing all the tricks of the money trade; it's being honest with yourself. "If I can control the guy in the mirror, I can be skinny and rich," he says in his new book THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER.
In other words, you have to get your head out of the sand. Okay, I have to get my head out of the sand.
Leaving the skinny to other books, Ramsey is a prophet to those who want to be rich but would settle for being financially stable. It's clear that this is a large group, given the popularity of Ramsey's radio show and books. After reading THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER, I can see why they flock to him for advice.
Ramsey's principles are simple and straightforward. Pay cash. Pay off debts from smallest to largest. Create an emergency fund. He provides easy-to-understand answers to many seemingly complex questions about budgeting, retirement funds, saving for college education, and more.
Large pullout quotes scattered throughout the book offer bite-sized financial advice and factoids in Ramsey's typically direct manner:
"A new $28,000 car will lose about $17,000 of value in the first four years you own it. To get the same result, you could toss a $100 bill out the window once a week during your commute."
"Looking to spend $100 per month on life insurance? You could pay $7 a month toward term insurance and invest the remaining $93. But go with a cash-value policy if you'd rather have someone else earn interest on your investments."
"49% of Americans could cover less than one months' expenses if they lost their income."
"If your mortgage payment is $900 and the interest portion is $830, you will pay that year around $10,000 in interest. What a great tax deduction! Right? Otherwise, you'd pay $3,000 in taxes on that $10,000. But who in their right mind would chose to trade $10,000 for $3,000?"
All of this advice is helpful and eye opening, but what Ramsey really excels at is presenting inspirational tales of those who were once, but are no longer, in financial disarray. Their stories make up at least a third of the book, and the cumulative effect is that of a published pep rally designed to get people pumped up about saving money. And it works.
This is a must-read book for anyone whose looking for a little basic financial information and a whole lot of courage to finally put away the ostrich suit.
Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel on September 11, 2003