The Total Money Makeover By Dave Ramsey (Summary and Review)

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The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
  • Classic Edition
  • Way to whip your finances into shape
  • This product will be an excellent pick for you
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ramsey, Dave (Author)

Last update on 2024-01-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon

Looking for the best book summary of The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey?

You are in the right place. Yay!

In this article, I’ll share 7 best lessons that I learned from this book.

By the end of this article, you will master the basics of wealth-management.

Alrighty, so without further ado, let’s dive right in.

The Total Money Makeover Summary

Lesson #1: Most people don’t realize that their fundamentals of finance are not right until it’s too late.

If you spend more than you need, and most of the money goes into paying debts, you need a financial audit.

In other words: you should consider checking your financial health.

It’s similar to physical health, if you feel that something is not right with your body, maybe you feel a weird pain, then it’s a good idea to visit a doctor.

There is no definition of health. 

If you are not sick, you are healthy.

In the same way, if you are not debt-ridden, you have multiple sources of income, you have prepared yourself for any emergency, you are doing great financially.

But the thing with finance is that, it’s not visible with eyes.

For example, if you are getting fatty, you can see your belly growing in the mirror, you can find your clothes getting shorter.

But money is always flowing, so it’s hard to track compared to physical health.

If you are a common man like me, you will find it difficult to track all your expenses.

This is why most people don’t realize that they are in a financial blunder until they do bad investments, or buy wrong insurance policies, or lose track of their finances.

Many people end up spending money on things they didn’t really need.

For instance, credit cards. The author says that many people don’t need credit cards.

He busts the myth that you can keep your finances healthy if you use debit cards. You don’t really need them.

But since we see all our friends using them, we think that it’s the right thing.

We copy other people blindly and try to impress them without questioning their choices.

We don’t question the things other people are doing.

It’s hard to think in the same way it is hard to work out in a gym, no doubt many people don’t like it.

Okay, so we discussed what the problem is.

Now what you need to do is run a financial-health checkup in the same way you go to the doctor for a body health-checkup.

We all think that we are healthy until we see the reports, don’t we?

These are the questions to ask:

  • Do I use credit cards?
  • Am I debt-free?
  • Where do I make investments?
  • Do I have an emergency fund?
  • Have I planned my retirement?
  • Where does most of my money go?

These are some of the basic questions that I believe we all should ask time to time.

Note the word “basic” here. 

This is not a fancy word, or is it?

There is no shine and glam to it.

And that is why most people never pay attention to the basics.

Basics or fundamentals are what we need to focus on instead of looking for get-rich quick schemes that promise to make you the next millionaire.

Best Tools for Bibliophiles

Lesson #2: Schools don’t teach wealth management, so we have to learn it.

You know why most of us lack even basic financial knowledge?

Because schools don’t teach us that.

Most of our financial knowledge comes from people around us, who, often, find themselves struggling to keep up with their bills.

This means that most advice we get from others are terrible and tend to do more harm than good.

To be honest, most people don’t care how wealthy you are until you can be of use to them.

So, we should never depend on institutions or other people to teach us valuable life skills. 

Instead, we should take the responsibility by educating ourselves.

I have summarized more than hundreds of books in layman’s language that will teach you all those cool things. So don’t forget to check out other book summaries.

The author shares his concern about how our wrong mindset about degrees is the root cause of financial mistakes.

Many people think that if they get a degree from a good college, they will be successful.

But if you just look around, you’ll find it takes more than that.

To be truly successful, you must have qualities that can’t be bought with money and can’t be taught by other people like patience, honesty, discipline, etc.

Lesson #3: Credit cards and debts look appealing, but they trap you emotionally and create financial mess.

Answer this: Why do most people take debts and use credit cards?

Because that’s easy money when you don’t have enough. When you want to buy something, but can’t afford to buy, that is when you think about a debt.

Basically, that is money borrowed.

Both debts and credit cards give you money when you don’t have enough.

The question is: Are they worth having?

I’m not saying these are bad.

When you have an emergency, these two things can actually help you.

But today, the author says, many people treat debt normally.

They think of debt and credit cards as a part of life.

Now let’s consider the basics here.

Using credit cards is more expensive than debit cards.

This is because, when you spend using a debit card, you must have the required amount of money in your bank account. There are no late payment fees.

You don’t spend unnecessarily. Or you only spend when you have the budget.

In case of credit card, you are borrowing money from the bank.

If you miss a credit card payment, there is a penalty fee, which often keeps increasing if the payment is delayed again.

Data shows that America has a jaw-dropping number of people who have credit card debts. 

To be exact, it’s $887 billion in 2022. (according to

Put simply, credit cards give you an illusion that you can still buy expensive stuff or luxuries, and avoid the pain of not having the required money.

It’s tempting to buy things using credit cards.

The idea is: Buy now & worry later.

Instead, it should be: Be cautious now so that you don’t have to worry later.

If you just start using a debit card and avoid these temptations, you will keep your finances healthy.

It’s the same as avoiding fast food so that your physical health is maintained.

We use them because everybody is using them, so it seems like a “common-sense” thing. But it’s not.

You are better without a credit card.

You can give so many reasons for using a credit card. However, the author says that thinking you need a credit card is a myth marketed to us.

What are those myths? And what’s the reality? 

Read the book to find out 🙂

Or keep reading for to gain more insights.

Lesson #4: Whole life insurances aren’t worth buying. Term insurance and mutual funds are better options.

This isn’t the first time I’m discussing this topic.

Whole life insurances are not a good investment.

If you want better returns for your money, think about Mutual Funds or Index Funds.

You can also make direct investment in the stock market, but that is a risky affair.

If you want to keep your family insured in case of any demise, you are better off with a term plan instead of whole life insurance plan.

Whole life insurances are costly compared to term insurances.

The premiums you pay in a whole life insurances are very high.

Why is this a problem?

That’s a problem because a large chunk of your money is going to pay premiums, you won’t be able to become debt-free.

And in case you desire something big like buying a car or buying a house, you’ll have to take another debt.

It’s okay to take debt sometimes, but most people take debts for wrong reasons.

The more debts you take, the harder you have to work to pay them off.

Also, there are “time” and “energy” costs associated with it as well.

You’ll find this concept in many finance books as well.

The author didn’t write this book so that you become rich and invest money in the wrong places.

He wants you to live with freedom and retire with dignity.

Money is there to help you live a better life.

You have to make money work for you. 

Unfortunately, many people spend their entire lives working for the money.

Money is supposed to be used as a tool to grow ourselves in totality.

This why it’s essential for everybody to stay clear of debt.

Let’s discuss how to deal with debts and regain your freedom back.

Lesson #5: Be debt-free. And if you have some, pay them off as soon as possible.

To be financially free, your goal should to be free of any debts.

No, it’s not okay to live your life with debts.

They cause stress and bind you into a contract.

They don’t allow you to live freely.

Unless you have a master plan, you are much better off without them.

Here is what to do:

Make a list of all your debts.

Now arrange them from highest to lowest.

The author recommends that you clear smaller debts first.

Where will you get the extra money? Start a side hustle. Or do a part-time job for a limited time.

Be creative.

Start paying off your debt as soon as you can sequentially.

Don’t try to pay all at once. You also have a lifestyle to sustain.

If you want the process to be fun, do as recommended by the author.

Take it step by step.

Gradually, all your debts will get cleared.

To be honest, it’s not going to be that simple. 

But if you decide and take responsibility, and then start taking action, your financial health will improve gradually.

The key is to pay debt as soon as possible.

The longer you take, the more interest you have to pay.

The author of the book “The Automatic Millionaire,” David Bach, also says the same thing: If you pay quickly, you pay less overall.

You can also check out its book summary here.

Lesson #6: Retirement will not fix your life problems if you have the wrong map.

Retirement is misunderstood by many people.

Throughout their lives, they follow bad philosophy, then they think once they retire all their problems will be gone.

No philosophy, no wisdom. It’s really that simple.

When you don’t understand the life, you make unwise decisions.

And because many people don’t read philosophy, they pick wrong jobs.

So, eventually, their job becomes a problem instead of becoming something that gives them happiness.

They pick a job they don’t care about just because it pays a handsome salary.

It’s okay to care about money, we all need it. (We will discuss it in the next lesson in detail, “why we all should care about money.”)

For now, let’s not digress and stick to what we are discussing.

Yes, retirement is not going to resolve your problems.

So thinking that “someday, when I’ll retire, I’ll be able to freely live my life in my own way…” is a bad approach.

The author strictly says that if you don’t like your job, you should consider quitting it.

Why wait for the retirement?

Retirement should be fun.

You shouldn’t retire to escape life problems.

It should be more about solving them and exploring further.

The author suggests that you decide how much money you’ll need at the time of retirement.

This is different. Because here you are planning to secure your future so that you keep living your life that you already like.

When you have the right map in life, the destination feels good the same way the journey felt good.

Lesson #7: Good people must have more money than bad people.

I know this can be controversial. But you can divide people into groups.

Although we all are the same, our mindsets are different.

The beliefs that guide us may differ.

For example:

A person might think business people are greedy. While another person might think they are not greedy, and in fact, help the economy grow.

What is right? What is wrong?

There is no perfect answer.

In the same way, the definition of “good people” and  “bad people” might vary person to person.

So, I’m not going into that as it’ll be out of context.

But if you think that you are a good person, you must try to be rich.

Because if you are not becoming rich, bad guys will try their best to have the most share of money.

It’s better that good guys hold most of the money in the world so that they can put this tool to the right use and help the humanity grow.

Bad guys will only use this tool for their own selfish reasons.

So good guys, start earning more.

You are not doing anything good by staying poor.

Please note that we are not talking about going to extremes and spend your entire life chasing money.

It’s just that nobody benefits by staying poor.

Learn about wealth management and be strategic about how you spend your money.

The Total Money Makeover Review

The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
  • Classic Edition
  • Way to whip your finances into shape
  • This product will be an excellent pick for you
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ramsey, Dave (Author)

Last update on 2024-01-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon

This book is more about implementing basic money-management principles.

No fancy techniques here.

So if you are someone who is looking for a secret to get rich fast, this book is not for you.

The author writes for common people who are struggling to manage their wealth.

In fact, the book has more stories than it has principles.

That’s because the author wants you to believe that change is possible even with very little income.

The core idea is that you should stay debt-free and invest so that your money grows with time.

Also keep an emergency fund in case something goes wrong.

You won’t find anything new in this book.

So far, all the books that I’ve read on finance talk about these same things.

Though I liked how the author related financial fitness with physical fitness.

If you honestly audit your finances, you will always find some areas for improvement.

Who is The Total Money Makeover for?

The book is for beginners who are struggling to become rich. 

Or anybody who is not debt-free and wants to regain his freedom back and retire with dignity can read this book.

Is the book worth reading?

Yes, the book is definitely worth reading at least once.

Most finance books are boring, but this one won’t bore you, as it’s filled with plenty of interesting stories. For example, the author shares how he was once broke…

Where to get this book?

You can get the book on Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover | Audiobook

Or you can also try Audible 30 Days trial and 2 audiobooks for free using this link: Try Audible for free

Now it’s your turn

I hope you enjoyed this book summary and learned insights about wealth-management.

Which lesson you liked the most?

Please let me know in the comments below.

And don’t forget to share this book summary with your friends or relatives so that they also become financially healthy.

Thanks for reading.

Shami Manohar

The Brain Behind

I am Shami Manohar, the founder of WizBuskOut. My obsession with non-fiction books has fueled me with the energy to create this website. I read at least one book every week on topics such as business, critical thinking, mindset, psychology, and more.

My mission is to educate and empower individuals with the knowledge that works in real life.

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