Total Money Makeover is, hands down, the best personal finance book I’ve ever read.
To be fair, its the only personal finance book I’ve ever read.
I’m not good with money. Never have been. I’ve got substantial debt for a person who’s only ever owned two credit cards (one of them, I didn’t even understand I was applying for a credit card when I got it!). My credit score is on the lower end of so-so. For years I’ve been wanting to pay off my debt, but I just haven’t had the motivation to do the things necessary to do so.
Having a baby complicated the matter further. Single mothers aren’t known to be living in the lap of luxury. Nearly half my paycheck goes to child care. Throw diapers, food, clothes, and all the other little expenses that kids cost on there, and I don’t know how anyone who makes less than I do can afford to have children. I’m not paying for fancy stuff (except the diapers, I do buy Seventh Generation) either.
That’s why I think every single mom should read this book, especially if you don’t already have good financial habits. Dave takes you through everything you need to write up a budget, stick to it, save up an emergency fund, pay down debt, and then start investing. He advocates living entirely on cash. No financing anything ever again! I don’t know if I’m 100% behind that. Things like student loans can be a godsend, and I don’t think its the end of the world to get a mortgage to buy a home. But other than that, I’m totally with him. I will certainly never finance a car again!
Dave’s tone is a little harsh, but I find that motivating, personally. Since listening to his book, whenever I go to buy something I hear his voice in my head asking if I really need that. Would I rather have that, or a debt paid off? Would I rather have that, or be able to quit working full time one day because I have no bills to pay?
His tips are simple, practical, and within reach, I think, of every single mom out there. His faith obviously plays a big role in his life and comes through in his book, but if you take the Bible quotes the same way you would take a fable with a moral from some other culture, I think even atheists can get a lot out of this book.
I definitely recommend this one on audio, because he is a riot to listen to. The same material might be pretty boring on paper.