I already mentioned Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover in my earlier post on money and budgeting, but it deserves its own special little review. This book is a terrific tool for anyone, particularly Christians, looking to manage her money better.
Ramsey begins by issuing a challenge: to really manage your money, you must have "gazelle intensity." That is, you must have the intensity of a gazelle as it flees a predator: looking neither to the right nor to the left, undeterred by side issues or concerns. Ramsey then challenges the reader to admit the problem, dispels myths about money and debt, and reminds us we don't need to keep up with the Joneses (because they're likely living on credit).
Once you're psyched and ready to go, he outlines the plan: Save $1000 fast (and first). Create a debt snowball (which really works). Finish your emergency fund (3-6 months of living expenses). Maximize retirement investing. Save for college; teach your children about money. Pay off the house! And let the games begin.
His maxim: Live like no one else will so that you can live like no one else can.
Ramsey's plan is packed with sound Biblical advice, his projected goals are reachable, and his book is full of personal stories and testimonials that are quite encouraging. He favors the envelope system (pulling cash out for different categories and putting it in appropriate envelopes--this really works, people!) and "spending" your money on paper at the beginning of the month so you know where it all is going. We got rid of credit card debt, incurred no other debt, and lived within our means when we weren't making much money our first few years of marriage. It was so freeing to have a budget and know that we could spend freely within the constraints we'd given ourselves. We also set up that initial $1000 fund and then proceeded to dip into it frequently (much to our chagrin) for car repairs; the bonus: we never had to use credit to pay for the car repairs! We always had money in the bank. And we frequently said to each other, "Gazelle intensity!"
If you're in debt or simply looking for a good Christian perspective on money and the whole "credit" thing, check out Total Money Makeover. There's a link in our sidebar to amazon.com, or you can buy it from Dave Ramsey himself.
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