A Breakdown and Review of Dave Ramsey’s Book “The Total Money Makeover”

“The Total Money Makeover” is not just a book; it’s a step-by-step guide to achieving financial success.

Dave Ramsey, a renowned personal finance expert, lays out a simple yet powerful plan for gaining control over your money and securing a brighter financial future.

The book is divided into seven “Baby Steps,” each building upon the last, to guide readers toward financial peace.

Baby Step 1: Build a $1,000 Emergency Fund

The journey begins with saving a $1,000 emergency fund.

This initial step creates a financial safety net for unexpected expenses, helping you break the cycle of going into debt for emergencies.

Baby Step 2: Pay Off All Debt (Debt Snowball)

The Debt Snowball method is one of Ramsey’s most famous strategies.

You list all your debts, from smallest to largest, and focus on paying off the smallest balance first.

As you eliminate each debt, you roll its payment into the next one. This approach builds momentum and psychological victories that keep you motivated.

Baby Step 3: Build a Fully Funded Emergency Fund

With your debt gone, the next step is to increase your emergency fund to cover 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses.

This cushion provides financial security and peace of mind.

Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of Your Income

Ramsey recommends investing 15% of your income into retirement accounts, like a 401(k) or Roth IRA.

He especially recommends this if your company has a 401k matching program, IT’S FREE MONEY if you take advantage of it.

This step ensures your money works for you, helping you build wealth over time.

Baby Step 5: Save for College

If you have children, Baby Step 5 focuses on saving for their college education.

Ramsey suggests using tax-advantaged accounts, such as a 529 plan, to save for higher education expenses.

Baby Step 6: Pay Off Your Mortgage

Once you’ve reached this point, it’s time to tackle your mortgage.

By dedicating extra funds to your home loan, you’ll pay it off faster and save thousands in interest.

Baby Step 7: Build Wealth and Give

The final step is all about building wealth and giving generously. Invest in mutual funds, real estate, or other opportunities to grow your wealth.

Ramsey emphasizes the importance of helping others and making a positive impact in your community.


Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover” is a compelling guide to financial success.

The book is easy to understand and offers practical advice, making it accessible to readers of all financial backgrounds.

Here are some of its strengths:

  • Clear and Actionable Steps: Ramsey provides a concrete plan, making it easy for readers to take actionable steps toward financial freedom.
  • Psychological Motivation: The Debt Snowball method’s focus on small victories boosts motivation, helping individuals stay committed to their financial goals.
  • Emergency Fund Emphasis: The book’s emphasis on building an emergency fund can provide much-needed security in times of crisis.
  • Long-Term Perspective: Ramsey encourages readers to think beyond the short term, focusing on wealth-building and legacy planning.
  • Community and Generosity: The emphasis on giving and helping others is a heartwarming aspect of the book.

However, there are a few potential drawbacks:

  • One-Size-Fits-All Approach: The book’s approach may not suit everyone’s unique financial situation. Individual circumstances vary, and some readers might need to adapt Ramsey’s advice to their specific needs.
  • Intensity: The book’s intense focus on financial discipline may feel overwhelming for some readers.

“The Total Money Makeover” is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to take control of their financial life.

In fact, I used it personally to erase over $60,000 in debt that was causing me a mountain of stress.

While not every piece of advice may apply to your situation, the book provides a solid foundation for achieving financial freedom and building wealth.

Dave Ramsey’s message is clear: with determination and a solid plan, anyone can transform their financial future.

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