The Total Money Makeover book review

1024 576 David Joannes

Date read: 06.11.2017. How strongly I recommend it: 9/10.

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey on Amazon.

See my Kindle highlights here.


You’re tired of all those self-help financial books. Me too. I just finished another book on starting late and finishing rich. It was okay—mostly filled with the typical clichés, though some helpful detailed information about where and how to invest. But The Total Money Makeover is a different book altogether. In the words of the author: “I am positive that personal finance is 80 percent behavior and only 20 percent head knowledge.” The focus of this book is about “the person in the mirror” and how we need to change perspectives regarding money before realizing true transformation. This was a breath of fresh air and created a paradigm shift in my thinking process regarding finances. This book will impact the behaviors and therefore outcomes of every reader.


Elaborating on the author’s above statement about behavior in relation to finances, he says, “I stated earlier that personal finance is 80 percent behavior. To properly view behavior and to understand how to change behavior intelligently, we must consider several things. Behavior intelligently viewed takes into account the emotional, the relational, the family history, the socioeconomic impacts, and the spiritual. To ignore any of these while discussing behavior change about money is incomplete and very naive.” There is an abrupt nature to the author’s tone throughout the entire book. I felt like I was hearing the voice of our ministry’s treasurer speaking directly to me, correcting patterns and behaviors that must change before realizing a healthy financial future. “Savings without a mission is garbage,” the author says. “Your money needs to work for you, not lie around you.” Yep. That’s exactly what my treasurer would say, and word to the world: I’m listening!


The author’s message is clearcut. There is no dodging the reality of the issue when it comes to finances. Initially, I thought I was getting into another book that provided detailed information about where and how to invest for the future. I was wrong. Instead, my thought process regarding financial spending and saving was challenged by the message of this book. “So my Total Money Makeover begins with a challenge,” the author begins. “The challenge is you. You are the problem with your money. The financial channel or some late-night infomercial gimmick aren’t your answer; you are.” Ouch! But I needed that. And then I visited Dave Ramsey’s website where he provides quality apps and resources to help budget, save, plan, and invest properly. His message did not fall on deaf ears.


This book is filled with testimonies from people all around the world who have experienced a paradigm shift in their perspective about finances and therefore moved forward into a healthy new outlook on their money. But, to me, the true creativity of the book in found in the author’s tone. His words sometimes feel like a stern father or a friend who loves you so much that he rips you a new one! The abrupt tone is something I needed to experience. Again, it sounded like the voice of Within Reach Global’s treasurer. The cover of the book reveals the author wielding a large pair of sheers ready to cut up his credit cards. Of course, Dave Ramsey did just that over 25 years ago, and I think it’s time I did the same. On debt, he says, “Just as slaves born into slavery can’t visualize freedom, we Americans don’t know what it would be like to wake up to no debt.” Again, ouch! It hurts so good and is transforming my thoughts about money. I think I’m having a total money makeover as we speak.


The writing style does feel like the typical book of this nature—corny, quirky, cliché-ridden and overlaid with the flavor of a motivational speaker. This is not my favorite writing style, to say the least. This is, to me, where the book feels lackluster. The author utilizes abundant parallels between physical health and weight loss to tell the story of financial fitness. It could have written in a more intelligent manner. But again, this book is written for the masses, and the masses generally don’t like a literary challenge. Understandable and forgivable, but this is the section that loses the final “10” on my 10-point rating system.


I can unequivocally announce that I have experienced a total money makeover after reading this book. My wife and I began using the EveryDollar app and are now budgeting better with future goals in mind. “I’m sure by now you are reassured that this is not a get-rich-quick book,” the author states. Yep. This is not about getting rich quick. It’s more about holistic health and proper perspective regarding budgeting, saving, financial planning, and investing properly. The author goes on: “I think you can tell by now that The Total Money Makeover is more than just a discussion on money issues. The Total Money Makeover makes you face the man or woman in the mirror. Facing that man or woman makes us face emotional, relational, physical, and even spiritual aspects of our lives.” I have seen the man in the mirror and have come to realize some changes to need to occur. Today, I’m taking intentional steps to realize overall financial health.


I give The Total Money Makeover a 9/10.