The Total Money Makeover: Book Review

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is simple but brilliant!

That summarizes what I have to say, however, I urge you to read on.

This is not a new book, it’s been around for a while, but I feel that with the culture of consumerism that we live in today, the book is only becoming more and more relevant.

The book talks about how to manage your money – personal finance – by changing your spending and saving habits. The focus is on changing our habits and controlling impulses, thinking about the big picture and the long-term plan and living your way to a wealthy retirement.

What makes this book powerful

Dave starts by clearly pointing out the rot in our current system of money management – taking everything on credit – either through credit cards or EMIs or loans.


Every phone today, is bought on EMIs, every car has a loan, even holidays are now being financed. While this is a mainstay in the American culture it is something that I’m seeing more and more peers indulge in.

I myself have been close to the financial rock-bottom that Dave Ramsey talks about, loads of credit card debt and a personal loan. Overspending on lifestyle and impulses that didn’t deliver in terms of gratification or value.

Here’s an anecdote of my own stupidity: How behavioral economics has changed my financial decision making

I’m lucky that this condition wasn’t aggravated by an ‘incident’ otherwise I’d have been in a real mess. It wasn’t that I was bankrupt, but had I not taken my financial awakening seriously I would have definitely gotten myself stuck in a financial muck.

It was then that I came across this book – referred to me by an acquaintance, Sudhir Khot – who himself is a financial guru and runs his own set up based on the concept of financial fitness.

I could identify with the problem that Dave talks about, rather rants about.Dave Ramsey, Total Money Makeover

That’s another thing I loved about the book. I follow Dave Ramsey on youtube and while reading the book, I could totally hear his voice reading the book to me. It seeps of his ‘ranting-old-coot’ personality!

It is less a textbook and more of a discourse on financial fitness punctuated evenly by anecdotes of personal experiences of his followers sent in through letters. This is what makes the book an easy yet an interesting read.

Another thing that makes the book powerful is the myth vs truth sections that are covered throughout the book. Unlike most myth vs truth sections, the myths that Dave mentions in his book are the ones I’ve commonly heard as truths around my peers!

What gives this book the most power are obviously the 7 baby steps. I will not go into them in this article, I’d recommend you read the book and go through them instead of a blog or an article – no blog article will be as immersive as the book.

So, what makes the book powerful?

  1. Context – relevant and identifiable
  2. Language – conversational and easy to understand
  3. Stories – of regular people who’ve succeeded by employing the framework
  4. The baby steps – easy to understand with clear goals and actions items

What did I not like about the book

It does get repetitive in parts, building on already proven points. There were points in the book where I felt impatient and wanted to skim over to the next point Dave had to make.

I am not a particularly religious person and when I’m reading about personal finance, that’s what I want to focus on. The references to how bible or religion tells teaches us to manage money took me out of the book at times.

Baby steps 1-4 are fairly clear. 6-7 are easily understood. However in baby step 5, while does give an overall break up of an investment plan (25% each in 4 categories – income, growth, international and high growth), there isn’t much detail on investment strategy per se – how to evaluate funds and other investment options. So if you already are in a place where you have no debt and are looking to understand how to evaluate investment options and design a strategy, this book probably isn’t for you (I was in part looking for those).

How has the book impacted me

As of today, I have no debt, I have an emergency fund in place and am saving up for a house!

I have no credit cards or loans of any type nor do I intend to ever have one – not even for a house. I live by the adage that Dave Ramsey repeats often in his book:

Live like no one else today so that one day you can live like no one else

I now have a very clear view of how I’m going to manage my money – investment strategy as I said, I still need to learn and am in the process of learning.


You can also buy the Total Money Makeover Workbook. This workbook has all the tables and plans that you need to manage your personal finance. I highly recommend getting the workbook after you’ve read the book itself.

You can get your copy of The Total Money Makeover here.

What am I reading next?

I will teach you to be rich by Ramit Sethi

Once I read it, I will upload the review for the same.

As always I read all my books on Kindle and highly recommend getting one.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nikhil Jamdar says:

    Hi Dan,
    Your article will really guide not only to begginers even those who loves to work out their own financials. For me, I’m a beginner so I will definitely get proper pathway for my financial planning from your blog. One thing what you wrote about debts for every aspects of life e.g. for mobile, for holidays.. just for comfort life is very stressful as compare to debt free person who is planning is finances like you…
    God bless

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy to know it helped!


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