February 3, 2014

My honest and unbiased review of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

It’s been quite a while since I've been on here, busy busy busy!  However,  I've decided to get back into this blogging thing to keep myself in line with goals I've set for myself for this year.

Recently I told myself and my husband that things had to change, for the sake of ourselves, our family, our marriage and our finances. We fought about money All. The. Time.  It was ridiculous; he said he felt like a broken record, I’d agree to change my ways, but in reality I was kidding myself and I’d go back to doing what I was doing.   I've always tried to be thrifty, to some point, using coupons, shopping sales, etc. but I admit I got roped into the Extreme Couponing craze and was super jealous of all the stockpiles of food those people had.  I wanted that I would tell myself!  When I actually started to really focus on extreme couponing (2010), it was like an addiction.  I mean I grew up with my mom clipping coupons on necessary items, so it was normal for me to use them.  However, I soon came to realize I spent more money out of pocket on things that I did not need or  would ever use;  hmm I would think to myself, they didn't do that on the show.  It took me quite a while before I really listened to my husband when he said do we really need 20 tubes of toothpaste?  Umm.. Well, no not really I suppose I would say, but I just kept on a trucking. 

                                Source:  Amazon.com

Fast-forward to today, 2014 almost 4 years later.  I still coupon, not to any extreme, but I try to match sales to ads and double my coupons when I can for things I know we will use or need, but you know what.. It doesn’t always work out.  And that’s OK!  My husband pointed out once that I went with a grocery list of 5 basic weekly items: bread, milk, lunchmeat, fruit and cheese.  I came home with 10 bags of other stuff and forgot most of what I went for.   He’d ask me do we really need 4 packages of Oreos? Well they were on sale I’d say, he’s like and your point is?  Took a while but I finally got the understanding what he was saying.  We didn’t need those Oreos, I wanted them.  Things HAD to change.

So at the beginning of January I started reading Total Money Makeover based on a lot of recommendations from the LWSL Facebook group Ruth had started.  There were various views and opinions.  I considered every one of them and decided I will read the book, see if I can garner anything out of it and go from there.  So I read each page, each chapter, and each baby step.  And I started to understand what others were saying about his book.  So in my words here are my honest key points about it:

  1. Set a budget – definitely needed
  2.  I think his baby steps are great suggestions, but not for everyone.
  3.  Build an emergency fund – definitely!
  4. In today’s world I believe we still need some sort of credit card to have.
  5.  Emergency funds excellent example!
  6. Building your retirement – great for those that have matching 401Ks (I do, but my husband does not).
  7.  Building your kids college – I think it’s a great idea if you can do it.  Some people I’m sure can’t.
  8.   Envelope system – I think this would work great for variable expenses such as eating out, groceries etc.

Now here’s my honest down points about it:
1. I wasn’t crazy about how he ‘talked’ like we are all idiots, yes we may be mismanaging money we wouldn’t be reading the book if we weren't but still we are not idiots. 
2. I believe we still need at least 1 credit card (not bank debit cards) for larger purchases such as flights, appliances etc.
3. I don’t quite agree with sell everything you can such as a car etc.  I’m sorry I bought my truck because I need the space, I have 3 dogs and 3 kids, I can’t just sell my truck to alleviate payments.  *now if I couldn’t make my payments that would be a different circumstance*
4. I am underwater on my home, just like mostly everyone probably is today.  But you know what it’s my home, I am making my payments, and honestly I’m not going to find anywhere else to live with a family of 5, 3 dogs and 3 cats. 

Overall, I think the book was valuable, a lot of it was information I had already known and probably just needed the reminder or refresher.   I am taking some of his thoughts/ideas and implementing them for myself.  I’ve created my budget, started to build my emergency fund (which I’ve already had to dip into) and have a genuine plan in place.  I know the budget will need to adjust as we move forward and pay off the few bills we have.  My largest debts are a HELOC due in 2 years and my student loan, which is like a mortgage payment.  I would never push getting student loans on anyone.  I wish someone had educated me on them when I first started school; I made A LOT of mistakes with these loans and now have a lot of regret.  But all I can do is move forward.

So my new plan starting Feb. 1 is I created a budget together with my husband using the form found here Budget form and I created a Debt Snowball Calculator as well for us to review.  I also created a weekly bill payment schedule since he’s paid weekly and I’m paid bi-weekly.  It works for us and it helps us know if we need more money one week vs. another week which allows us to adjust accordingly.  We are building our emergency fund while still living our life and enjoying our days we have.  As soon as the emergency fund is established I will start with the envelopes for certain expenses and savings throughout the year.  

I have learned that life is too short to pinch every penny and I believe in spending the time I do have with my family and enjoying myself even if it means spending some money.

Til next time ~

Frugal Momma

*This post is by no way shape or form associated with Dave Ramsey, I was not provided compensation for this review or any sort of monetary payment.  It is strictly my thoughts and opinions on the book, they are my own and where credit is due credit is given.*


  1. I like your review! And I agree, spending time with your family and enjoying yourself while spending a little money. Money can always be gotten. Time can't. Thanks for sharing! Blessings from Bama!

  2. Nice review. Having followed Dave Ramsey's methods of snowballing, I have managed to take steady steps towards my financial goals.

    Even I practice some things which Dave hates from the bottom of his heart. For example Credit card makes it easy to track the expenses of my wife and mine together. Also, when there is a good opportunity of investment without a lot of debt, I try to cover 80% with my savings and go for a 20% debt at max. I snowball the 20% asap.

    So I guess Dave's methods are fantastic and definitely work. At the same time we do not have to follow them to the dot. The best approach would be the follow the essence of his concepts and tweak it to match our style.