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The Total Money Makeover

A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Narrated by: Dave Ramsey
Length: 3 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (25,430 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Okay, folks, do you want to turn those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash machine? Then get with the program, people. There's one sure way to whip your finances into shape, and that's with The Total Money Makeover. It's the simplest, most straight-forward game plan for completely making over your money habits. And it's based on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies.

Where Financial Peace gave you the solid saving and investing principles, this book puts those principles into practice. You'll be exercising your financial strength every day and quickly freeing yourself of worry, stress, and debt. And that's a beautiful feeling.

©2003 Dave Ramsey (P)2003 Thomas Nelson Publishers

Critic Reviews

"The strength of this book is that it is a straightforward motivational tool. He provides the brutally direct truth about the hard work it takes to become free of debt, and his directness is a great part of the book's charm." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This guy makes sense

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.

321 of 336 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Short and Easy Steps

Where does The Total Money Makeover rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I would give a B-. Gets to the point, gives good metaphors and easy to follow.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Total Money Makeover?

Metaphors used to describe steps or missteps are very memorable and applicable to most people.

What about Dave Ramsey’s performance did you like?

Voice and diction were probably best compared to what I have listened. Would expect good performance from professional speaker. Have heard some "funny" start/stops or paragraph breaks on other books. Probably start of new session or after break. Did not hear in Ramsey's performance, however this book is shorter than most. 3+ hours

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No crying, definitely a few laughs. Mostly found myself quoting excerpts to others.

Any additional comments?

Religious overtones and bible quotes throughout book. However quotes in nature of "Saving" money and neither borrowing or lending; giving money OK. People describe me as Agnostic and this did not bother me. All in all good book, great performance. Enjoy

105 of 112 people found this review helpful

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maybe the best self help book ever

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have. I am a financial advisor and every high school kid, anyone who wants to be out of debt, and anyone without 6 months savings should read this book. It teaches real money mangement.

What did you like best about this story?

The step by step process to financial stability.

What about Dave Ramsey’s performance did you like?

He is truly passionate about what he does and is a motivating leader. I do not always agree with him, but he is right when it comes to managing money.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

this is a must read and top ten book of all time for me.

38 of 41 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Information available online

Total Money Makeover doesn't give any information that isn't already available on Ramsey's website. it just adds anecdotes about people succeeding with the method.

37 of 41 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Thank you

What made the experience of listening to The Total Money Makeover the most enjoyable?

I appreciate the insight offered in this book. The steps outlined are easy to understand. The scenarios offered were helpful.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brash? Yes. Honest? Absolutely.

Some people have remarked that they don't like the tone of this book. If the author seems a bit "brash", it's only because he's attempting to highlight the level of insanity with which most people approach personal finance. Take a look around you. The guy you work with who just bought a new Hummer. Your sisters' friend who just moved into a $800,000 home. They must be doing great, right? WRONG.

The truth is, they're most likely broke. They're high-income, low-net-worth people who are teetering on the edge of complete financial ruin. Rich people, don't do these things!! Well, that is unless they're really really rich.

This book will change the way you think about money. When I see the guy in the new Mercedes now, I think, "Man, that guy has nothing in the bank". This book will make you proud of your old jalopy. After all, it's better to ACTUALLY BE RICH.

Most Americans WISH for financial security and DO everything they can to make sure it NEVER happens. I think this is a level of insanity that warrants a brash tone.

If your ready to get real about your finances, this is the only book you need to read.

79 of 96 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very Motivational...

Even if you might not adhere to Dave's plan exactly, the idea of slavery to debt and freedom from it are very motivational. I feel like the examples he uses are real life people and he doesn't use terms or language that is reserved for finance professionals. It really is a good, practical plan for getting out of debt via hard work and perseverance. Even though his plan is not the best "mathematically", the point of getting some quick wins by paying off the lowest balance without regard to interest rate is a legitimate point. Honestly, you can hear most of the content of this book in his daily podcasts. I do recommend this book to people.

39 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Very good, wish it was available unabridged.

This book is for those who realize that there is no "magic" in getting on top of finances. It is very practical in its approach. I'm done with the books, theories, and thinking that suggest that there are quick fixes to wealth. God, and much less, "the Universe" will not save you from your financial woes. Only hard work, serious budgeting, and self-control will.

20 of 25 people found this review helpful

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I couldn't get into it

I could not get into the book, I think it had a lot to do with his narration, very exaggerated. I lost interest pretty quickly, the narration plays such an important part.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Financial Motivator!

What made the experience of listening to The Total Money Makeover the most enjoyable?

I have always made sure to payoff credit cards monthly or stop spending to not build up debt. I picked up this book to see how I can advance myself financially. Reading this book I realized I was already doing many things right. The confirmation felt really good. The step-by-step instructions were helpful to ensure you don't loose focus. This book has greatly motivated me to take control of my 'financial fitness'. I plan to teach this to my nieces once they are old enough.

What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

The baby steps to achieving financial fitness.

Any additional comments?

The book is targeted towards people with high debt. I understood that some points had to be drastically emphasized in order to make them effective at all, but at times I found the emphasis a bit insulting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sifisosami
  • 01-27-11

Thank you Dave Ramsey

This is a quick update to those in need of hope. I wrote a review back in June last year and now wish i could give this book more than 5 stars!!! We are now debt free, thanks to Dave's principles layed out clearly in this book.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Chantelle Lue
  • 07-08-18

Best Financial Management Book EVER!

I have searched for years for an easy to follow book that would help me get out of debt, manage my money better and help me to build long-term wealth and I have finally found it, thanks to God!

As a single parent, with debt up to my eyeballs and a business, I knew that things had to change if I didn't want my daughter to suffer finacially but I didn't know how to change it.

I have read Rich Dad Poor Dad and other property investment/financial advice books but there was always a catch of having to go to a 'paid' service to find out more or to start applying knowledge - this book is different!

I have spent the last 4 hours listening to the book and was able to start the process of the 7 step plan as I was listening. Hearing the story about another single parent and others who, like me, were in terrible financial positions and how they have been able to become debt free and start building wealth is exactly the motivation I needed to start taking ACTION.

All of the steps are easy to follow and while they require effort, have transformed how I view money and given me the order in which I should tackle my financial problems - which is something most other books lack.

I can see very clearly now where I should be focusing my efforts and why. Moreover, I now feel empowered to make better financial decisions and it has actually saved me from making another costly mistake to the tune of £18,000.

I'm now going to invest in the Financial Peace university, which at only $129 is the most affordable financial program I have ever come across.

I am so grateful to God for answering my prayers and for finally helping me to take accountability and responsibility for my financial mistakes. I'm ready to be wealthy! #poverty2prosperty here I come!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • The Money Pit
  • 08-29-17

Very 'American' but brilliant advice

Although not totally in sync for a U.K. audience (different terminology, investments, etc) you can work around that.

The principals however are spot on, having an emergency fund has totally changed my thinking about money and the budgeting to zero each payday is brilliant, I now have money at the end of the week while still having the payments allocated in sinking funds instead of spending it if they didn't come out of my bank.

All in all, highly recommend, a great way to look at the way you deal with money.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Daisy
  • 02-04-16

brilliant.

great advice. strong American biased but the basic plan is sound where ever you live.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • M. E. Gideon
  • 08-04-15

Good sound advice

It's what many people need to hear. No rocket science. Just straight talking. Short and to the point. The tough talking could feel a little OTT for some but it is not unbearable; I found it entertaining and used appropriately to stress points. Will pay for itself many times over

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ceci Moran
  • 02-16-18

Amazing eye opener

Amazing thank you Dave, it sure will bring changes to our lives, we.have been dormant with our finances

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • tex
  • 07-04-16

Great advice

Very straight forward advice that anybody can follow and become wealthy get out of debt save for retirement etc.

The advice is very american-based which is obvious as he is from the US but it translates very easily to the UK so can still be followed.

I loved the baby steps, so easy to take on board and digest. I admit it would take most people a while to go through all the steps and reach the stage where u get to "live like no one else because u've lived like no one else"but the goal definitely seems worth it.

highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Timothy
  • 10-18-15

Excellent from start to finish

If you are tired of living life payday after payday and never seeming to have any money then I highly recommend this book.

It is a tried and tested method that so far has worked wonders for me!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Giles K.
  • 01-22-19

Probably decent advice if you live in the US.

There is some decent advice in this book but the amount of time God is mentioned in an financial advice book is very strange. It's like reading a book on quantum physics and the author keeps mentioning the influence of fairies on physics. His focus on the long term financial planning is refreshing and it can't hurt to read but the book is very much for an American audience. As far as the performance goes; I did not appreciate the shouting or the overly emotional delivery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Hayley A.
  • 01-17-19

Helpful for a budget newbie

Found myself listening to this in hour or so chunks, the chapters are broken down nicely and feels like one I'll keep referring back to!

Despite the book being aimed at America's financial structure, there is enough there without external research to set a decent budgeting system in place.

Happy UK citizen!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Carla
  • 12-17-15

Didn't get enough out of it

I couldn't decide between this book or Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace - i opted for this one given it was only 3 and a bit hours and i thought I'd get the highlights version. In hindsight i would have been better off buying Financial Peace as he skims over way too much and all i really got out of this book was avoid debt - which is kinda obvious Mr Ramsey! He does touch on his "baby steps" which had he gone into more may have been a help.

It also takes a bit of getting used to being yelled at - but you do kinda get used to it by the end.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Dane
  • 08-07-15

Brilliant!

Dave delivers an honest, step by step and powerful message on how to build and keep wealth !! Highly reccomend.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Josh
  • 10-29-18

Too Much Religious talk

A few good points for Americans only and way too many bible quotes and constantly relying on God to help him

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • shannon russell
  • 03-12-18

why are you yelling at me, I came for advice

Would you ever listen to anything by Dave Ramsey again?

This guy just isn't for me, so angry and treats his listeners like they are stupid, I couldn't take in anything he said because he was so angry.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeremy lewis
  • 03-30-19

Great money wise but can’t stand all the GOD talk

Great money wise but can’t stand all the GOD talk. Wish he wasn’t pushing religion into it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sara W.
  • 12-30-18

Good information

Overall good book minus all the Jesus/God references, but his points and information is correct and helpful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-04-18

Not for me

Very basic finance advice and concepts. Great for people with zero financial skills or knowledge

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Belle maman
  • 04-13-15

Life changing

There's a story within this audiobook which finishes saying 'if you have an income, you need the total money makeover'. Couldn't agree more. Have listened to this at least 10 times now and will continue to every couple of months or so

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • James Hu
  • 07-10-19

Fake misleading

Fake misleading compound interest theory, save save and save, he is making money by selling the books not the way he taught in the book

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  • naomi
  • 03-03-19

First book!

This is my first audible book and I loved it! very interesting and informative book and it was read really well. I will definitely be continuing my membership after the 30 day trial.