I like to watch television shows that present dramatic transformations in people's lives. Whether the participants receive a home renovation, a wardrobe revolution or a personal renewal, it is very satisfying to observe the positive changes that take effect. It is also heartening to see that even the worst situations can often be resolved once the right treatments are applied.
If you have a problem with your vision, then a visit to the optometrist and the right eyeglass prescription will usually allow you to see clearly again. Similarly, if your financial future looks fuzzy, then you probably need to get the right remedy from a 'money doctor'. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is definitely one book that can provide you with a cure for your money concerns.
Financial disasters can be fixed
If you are having challenges with money, I recommend that you read this book. It is interspersed with inspiring stories of persons who were facing severe financial crises and were saved by applying the Total Money Makeover plan. You might be encouraged to know that there are solutions for people with money problems that are even worse than yours.
Here are two of the cases that were resuscitated by Ramsey's financial intervention: Shad was US$78,000 in debt working 80 hours per week; 12 months later his loans were paid and he was working less. The Morrows had a US$56,000 credit card debt; after cutting expenses, getting side jobs and selling their mortgaged house, they were debt-free with a six-month emergency fund.
At one point, Ramsey, too, was trapped in a "financial hell" where he was sued, foreclosed on and became bankrupt. With a wife, new baby and toddler to take care of, he definitely understood the meaning of financial desperation. He recounts that he then went on a quest to discover how money worked and eventually formulated a method to help persons find financial peace.
The makeover starts within
Ramsey reveals that the first phase in his makeover plan is to confront yourself in the mirror. "You are the problem with your money," he declares. Most people live in denial about the reasons behind their financial issues and refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. To achieve a money makeover, he insists, you have to commit to the sometimes painful process of change.
The secret of The Total Money Makeover is that it tackles the biggest obstacle first -- your mind. To achieve success, you have to become totally sold out to do whatever is necessary to turn around your finances. You have to be willing to forgo spending on wants, sacrifice leisure time, and no longer be concerned about presenting a financial façade to friends and family.
Ramsey's makeover motto is: "If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." In other words, if you are prepared to put up with the temporary discomfort of trimming your lifestyle cost, rejecting the desire to borrow, and working extra hours to increase income, then within a few years you will really be able to enjoy lasting financial freedom.
Debunking money myths
Ramsey then addresses some myths that keep many people in financial bondage. One big misconception is that debt is a tool that can help you to get ahead. "Debt is so ingrained in our culture," he asserts, that we can't imagine "a car without a payment, a house without a mortgage, a student without a loan, and credit without a card."
"Debt adds considerable risk, and often doesn't bring prosperity," Ramsey maintains. "It is a method to make banks wealthy, not you." He also advises against lending money to friends and relatives or co-signing on loans. After seeing hundreds of relationships strained or broken due to debt, he believes that a loan to a loved one is not a blessing, but rather a curse.
Another money myth Ramsey exposes is the quest for quick, easy money. People who look for special deals to create wealth with minimal effort often get caught in scams. "No one gets rich quick by using secret information." The only successful method is "lots of hard work, living on less than you make, getting out of debt, and living on a plan," he confirms.
Time for transformation
Ignorance about financial matters and the desire to follow the crowd are two hurdles that you must also overcome. "No one is born financially smart," Ramsey admits, so you have to "go on a lifetime quest to learn about money". He recommends that you spend time on your budget, read something about money at least once per year, and occasionally attend a seminar.
Many people use money they don't have in a bid to win others' approval and acceptance. "Don't even consider keeping up with the Joneses," Ramsey quips, "They're broke!" He reveals that the average American millionaire doesn't buy showy items like expensive cars and clothes, but is more motivated by the goal of financial security.
Are you ready for a Total Money Makeover? Then read Ramsey's book and learn the seven 'baby steps' that will take you through the process of transforming your financial health.
Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, "The 3 Ms of Money" will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Read more on money and business matters at www.financiallysmartadvice.com and www.entrepreneursinjamaica.com. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.