cover image THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Dave Ramsey, . . Thomas Nelson, $24.99 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-7852-6326-5

Radio talk-show host and bestselling author Ramsay (Financial Peace) is less a financial analyst and more of a preacher, which explains both his popularity and the appeal of this book, which jsut might gain a wide audience. The bedrock of his system is simple: work hard, pay what you owe and stay out of debt. His main commandment is "Pay cash." He first exhorts the reader to take "baby steps," which are designed to build on each other: first, save $1,000 as an emergency fund; then, pay off all debts from smallest to largest; save a larger three-to-six-month emergency fund; finally, start to save for college and pay off your home mortgage. Ramsay understands the difficulty in putting these steps into action, and therefore packs his book with personal testimonials from everyday people who have used his system and have become debt free, with obvious struggles. The key is what Ramsay calls "Gazelle intensity," which is to live a financial life the way a gazelle saves itself from an attacking cheetah—"outmaneuver the enemy and run for your life." While Ramsay provides some helpful charts and graphs so readers can keep track of their efforts to follow his steps, 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. (Sept.)

Forecast:Nelson plans an aggressive—and unusual—campaign: a financial makeover contest, promoted through Ramsey's 31-city author tour and broadcasts; the winner will receive $55,000.