In 2017, I discovered the world of financial podcasts. The first one I discovered and began listening to was “So Money” by Farnoosh Torabi. I listened intently as I was in the midst of learning how to invest, reorganize my finances, establish a budget and pay down debt. One podcast led me to another and another until eventually, my podcast library was full. I was overwhelmed!

Several podcast hosts praised Dave Ramsey, author of the “Total Money Make Over” and several other books related to becoming financially fit. I later found out that he too had a podcast show and there were thousands of episodes. I began listening to his show and I ordered his book. I decided to read the book and listen to the shows simultaneously in order to soak up as much information as possible. Because I am saddled with student loan debt, I wanted a strategy to pay them off in full and I needed some motivation.

 Subject of the Book

Mr. Ramsey provides strategies for paying off debt and investing in what he calls “the seven baby steps.” Baby step one is to save $1000.00 in an emergency fund. He often refers to “Murphys Law” showing up at any time causing you to have to spend money. After you’ve saved $1000.00, you began the debt snowball which is baby step two. During this phase, you start paying your debt, smallest to highest. When one debt is paid in full, use those payments to add towards your next bill and so on until all the bills are paid in full. Baby step three requires you to fully fund your emergency fund with three to six months of income. Baby step four requires you to invest 15% of your income into your retirement account. He goes into great detail about investing if you are not familiar with what to do. Baby step five requires you to save for college if your children plan on attending. He talks about different college plans that are available. Baby step six requires you to pay off your home mortgage which most people think is humanly impossible. But apparently, people were able to make it happen. Finally, baby step seven is all about building wealth.

Several motivating success stories are posted throughout the book about people who were able to complete all seven steps. Mr. Ramsey provides detailed information about how to go about completing each step. Everyone’s timeline is different, however, he encourages you to go through each step with “gazelle intensity,” meaning stay focused and stay the course. He is against the use of credit cards for any reason. He also talks about several myths about purchasing cars, home ownership, home equity loans, college degrees and other issues that cause people to get into mountains of debt. Mr. Ramsey also focuses on the importance of giving and religion.

My Reaction to the Book

I was motivated about certain parts of the book such as paying off debt with “gazelle intensity” and the snowball method. I immediately began to pay extra money towards my car payment as I need to get rid of it first under this plan. I definitely agree with his philosophy about people believing that a college degree is going to get you the job you really want and allow you to make a substantial return on your investment when it some cases, it really doesn’t.

A college degree did not help me with my career. It didn’t afford me the opportunity to earn more money because my agency is governed by a pay scale. I obtained it just in case I wasn’t able to make it to 20 years. But at what cost? My student loan payment is equivalent to a small townhouse. I make my monthly payment under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan, however, I am working on increasing my net worth to speed up the repayment process. Click here to read my student loan advice.

While I agree with his concept of getting rid of debt, I don’t agree with waiting until it’s completely gone before investing more into retirement. It could take me 5 to 10 years to get rid of the student loans, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to invest. Therefore, I like to pay off debt, save, and invest simultaneously.

Mr. Ramsey is not a fan of credit cards. I understand because if used irresponsibly, they can cause you a lot of issues. I use credit cards for the cash back rewards. I pay the bills off in full and I don’t spend over 30% each month. He said that credit scores are not important, however, as my good friend said, “You don’t need it until you need it.” Therefore, I want to have a good credit score just in case I need to make a purchase that could save me a lot of money by having a good score. Also, jobs are looking at applicant’s credit scores prior to hiring potential candidates.

Overall, his story definitely resonated me as he was someone who hit rock bottom and was able to start over and become successful. He talks about the mistakes he has made with money just like most of us. The other day, I was watching a series on Netflix called Ozark. It’s about a man named Marty played by Jason Bateman who is a financial planner, a family man, and a drug trafficker whose wife cheated on him. I’m not going to give too much away but this quote really resonated with me, “Patience, frugality, and sacrifices are choices. Money is the measure of a man’s choices.”  

In Conclusion

The book did motivate me to push harder to get rid of debt. However, I belong to several other financial groups where the members’ goals align with my goals. I would definitely recommend the book because there are so many people who were successful with using this method. I would also encourage people to read other financial literacy books and listen to other podcasts. The end result is to get rid of debt, save, and invest. You have to pick a formula that works for you and your family. Readers, have you developed any strategies on how you are going to accomplish paying off your debt this year? What choices are you going to make with your money in 2018?  Please share tips with our community!

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  1. I agree with all of your assessments on this. We’ve reviewed the program but modified it much as you mentioned. There is no doubt he has turned things around for many people financially. Nice review!

    1. Thank you sooo much for the feedback! I’m reading MMM , listening to afford anything podcast and definitely hearing things that align with my goals. Have an awesome New Year!

  2. The book sounds like an interesting read, and seems to offer a good roadmap for financial planning. I agree that each needs to tweak the philosophies according to their own temperament, but having a map will certainly help many.

    1. Yes , I agreed with his philosophy about paying off debt but I definitely had to tweak some things to make it work for me. Thank you for your feedback.

  3. We have done his methods and went through “Financial Peace University.” We were blessed with an inheritance and were able to do a college pre-paid plan for both our children & paid off our home. We are basically on step seven, but have to increase step 3 because of certain emergencies. I understand we’re a special circumstance, but I also know people who have made it without an inheritance. Keep going and don’t give up. Just do your best to not get in debt for frivolous things.

  4. We used this book and his teachings to pay off 35,000 I believe it works if you stick to it. Sometimes I think it’s written from a millionaire mindset like “he don’t know my life” lol but I know he’s been there. Good post.

  5. I agree that having a good credit score is part of having a successful well rounded financial plan. It creates opportunity since many wealthy people achieved their wealth with other people’s money. Thanks for the honest review!

  6. Great review! I like how this book breaks down getting your finances under control and secure into actionable steps so that you don’t have to focus on everything at once. I agree with you that credit cards aren’t evil, as long as you have the discipline to use them like they were a cheque – if you don’t have the money to pay it off, then you don’t spend it. I use my credit card to earn travel miles 🙂 . It is possible to get your mortgage paid off – the biggest mistake I think people make is taking on a bigger mortgage than they really can afford. It’s so easy to do when banks are willing to lend it. Take care and thanks for the honest review.

    1. Thank you for the honest feedback! I was one of the people who bit off more than I can chew during the recession. Now that I’m out of that mess, I’m dealing with Student loans. The book definitely motivated me to get moving on paying down the car payment and SLs.

  7. This post really resonated with me for several reasons but mainly because my finances were out of control. I needed to make a drastic change and this book was it. It was detailed and encouraging just like this review!

  8. It’s so important to take control of your finances. I think it should be taught in schools.
    It’s interesting to get various perspectives and to take the advice that works for you and your situation. I was not aware of this book. Thanks for writing such a good review.

  9. I was wondering if your loans are so large that you still need to snowball debt even though you plan to do public loan forgiveness? I have been trying to figure out the best plan for mine. I am planning to do teacher loan forgiveness which is similar. They have me paying very little on the standard repayment plan but teacher loan forgiveness has a value of $17,500 so to get the most out of it, I want my balance to be that at 5 years. My current balance is around $21k. Just wondering how specific you have gotten with your calculations.

    1. Great question. My student loan is astronomical which is why I decided to go with PSLF. However once my car is paid for , I’m going to apply that additional payment towards the loan which won’t count under PSLF. I just want it gone. I just started Year two of the program and I’m concerned about the future of this program under the new administration. I see so many other people working to pay them off and I’m inspired by that . If I had your balance, I’d want to pay that off as quick as possible but it really depends on your situation with other bills. I no longer own a home. I’m currently renting and I have a car payment. My only liabilities are Student loans and a car payment. Let me know if I answered your question. My monthly payment would be doubled if I wasn’t under PSLF.

  10. Great and honest review of this book and the program. I’ve been eyeing this for a while now and am now more tempted to give it a try. I agree with you on modifying it some to allow current savings/investing instead of waiting it out.

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