This book contained solid, long-term investment advice. I have readjusted my retirement accounts to match the strategies described in this book.
My only complaint is that the author spent too much time convincing the reader about the benefits of index funds. A few chapters into the book I kept saying to myself, "ok, I get it, low cost index funds are better than actively managed mutual funds, now move on".
Investors who passively manage their money could see their entire portfolio evaporate into money heaven. This book describes the causes and effects of a major economic collapse. It also describes several methods for protecting investments; moving money into gold, bonds, foreign currencies, and bear funds. It also gives economic indicators to watch for trouble: inflation rate and interest rate.
There is some pretty deep economics in this book but the author explains it in terms that non-economists can understand. I would've given the book a 5 star if it wasn't for the bragging and self-plugging that is found throughout the book.
I have business degrees from Wharton (BS) and Stanford (MBA), but like most Americans from middle class backgrounds, I never got much training in personal finance and always felt bewildered by it. I recently listed to The Total Money Makeover for the third time and it clicked. The first two times, I was still in school and had no income, so felt powerless to act on its lessons. Now, with a steady income (and some monstrous student loans) the lessons are relevant, actionable, and empowering.
Before, I always felt at a loss when it came to budgeting. After re-listening to The Total Money Makeover, I got a second savings account to hold my emergency fund and long-term savings, making it easier to separate between current accounts and short-term savings. Now, I have an Excel spreadsheet with a separate column for each upcoming pay check. I know how much of each paycheck will get immediately transferred into long-term savings (e.g. for a wedding in the fall), how much will go to short-term savings (e.g. for next month's rent), and how much disposable income I have in my current checking account.
Furthermore, I have a better plan for paying down my debts. If I were to approach this according to the pure net present value financial principles taught in school, I would start with my big student loan (highest interest rate), then my smaller student loan, then my car loan (lowest interest rate). After listening to Ramsey, I'm going to do it in the opposite order. Although that will cost me some in NPV, it means I can pay off my car loan in a few months (freeing up $250 per month in cash flow), and can pay off my smaller student loan in a few years. My larger student loan is the size and duration of a mortgage, and I'll treat it like it's one. If I tried to pay it off first, I wouldn't see any impact on my cash flow for probably 14 years, making it discouraging to try to find extra dollars to put towards paying down debt. Trying this the Ramsey way, I already feel like I'm making progress and am motivated to do more.
Dave Ramsey is an inspiring speaker. Although his message may come across as simple, in my opinion it does a far better job taking into account human nature than any of the sophisticated financial and economic models I spent so much money learning. I can't recommend this book enough.