Listen to the Money Talk: a book review

My church just offered David Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course (for the second time). My work schedule didn’t allow me to participate, but I have been curious about what insights Ramsey has and why people have found his materials so helpful. Church friends and family members have suggested my wife and I take his course (because of our mountain of student loans). So I was excited  to review Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition

Ramsey offers a plan for becoming debt-free, financially secure. This enables you to use your financial resources for the kingdom.  His ‘total money makeover’ counters several myths about debts and making money and suggests  ‘baby steps’ to bring your finances into order. These baby steps include:

  1. creating an $1000 emergency fund
  2. making a dept-snowball by paying off your debts lowest to highest.
  3. finishing your emergency fund (increasing it from $1000-$25,000)
  4. maximizing retirement investment
  5. putting aside money for the kid’s college fund
  6. paying off the mortgage
  7. building wealth like crazy!

Each of these steps are filled out by Ramsey’s practical insights. He is someone who has made a lot of money, and spent beyond his means and has learned to be a better steward of his resources as a resuilt. Sometimes his approach dovetails with popular approaches to financial planning. For example, he says what just about every smart money guy says about saving for retirement (do it, especially while you are young). In other places, Ramsey’s views stand in opposition to the prevailing wisdom: He does not advocate buying on credit at all, borrowing or going in to debt for any reason, he does not not believe it is good to have a mortgage for tax breaks or to keep low interest student debt, He does not advocate using credit (at all). Yet his approach has helped thousands overcome bad habits, grow wealth, and become financially secure.  The book is full of testimonials of families that Ramsey has helped get out of debt..

I appreciate Ramsey’s approach, especially because I feel financially strapped with major student debt. Ramsey gives practical, actionable steps which I am making plans to implement more fully in my life.  I give this book four stars and recommend to anyone struggling with their finances (or who wish to manage their money better). This book has inspired me to be more mindful about spending, saving and budgeting.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this book through Book Sneeze. I was not asked to write a favorable review, just an honest one.


You Must Choose Wisely: a book review

We  all face difficult decisions. We  also carry regrets from bad choices (i.e. buyer’s regret, relationships gone sour, a poor business decision or watching the Spice Girls movie). Most of these poor choices could have been avoided if we asked ourselves the right question.

The Best Question Ever: A Revolutionary Approach to Decision Making by Andy Stanley

When facing important decisions, Andy Stanley, author and pastor of the second biggest church in America (when you’re second you try harder), contends that he has the best question ever for you to ask yourself. Taking Paul’s warning in Ephesians 5:15-17 to not be foolish, Stanley posits that when we are faced with difficult circumstances, we should ask ourselves, “What is the wise thing to do?” This is the Best. Question. Ever.

Sounds simple right? And yet, how many times have you failed to choose wisely?  Often we orient our decision-making around whether or not a particular action would be right or wrong. The problem, something doesn’t have to be ‘wrong’ to be unwise. Choosing a wise path will lead us away from the boundary edge of right and wrong and give us a sure footing.

Stanley unpacks this ‘best question ever.’  We need to ask if a particular choice is wise for us personally, in light of our  past history, current circumstances and our future hopes and dreams. He also  looks at the areas of time, money and sex (three things we all want more of). He advises us to invest our time in things that matter (and not foolishly waste it), to set proper priorities with our money and to guard our moral conduct (especially in the realm of sex/relationships). In the last section, he talks about the necessity of seeking wise counsel (letting others speak into your life).

This is the third book by Stanley I’ve read, and I  think The Best Question Ever is good.  His books have lots of practical advice–sort of biblical self help and personal development. This book is about making wise decisions and would be good for youth, and young adults. Others could also read it profitably. It is less helpful for picking up the pieces after having made poor decisions than it is for getting people to orient themselves wisely from the start (not really a criticism, just delimiting what the book is about). There is sage advice for everyone. But before you go out and buy it, ask yourself, “Is it the wise thing to do?”

Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Question: Where have you chosen wisely?