Monday, March 23, 2009

Dave Ramsey & TMMO: A Reader's Opinion

Yeah, I get my share of reader email.

And I'd like to share one now, mostly from the standpoint of the motivation it provides:

Dear MDM:

In preparing to establish a written recommendation to all of my clients to at least read Dave Ramsey's book, TMMO, I came across your TMMO review. I admit that his website is commercially oriented. However, as a CPA, I sell services and am paid for my time, experience, education and hands-on application of the resulting combined expertise.

Simply put, I am paid for my time. You make the point that if Dave Ramsey can pursuade a multitude of people to become debt free and live a more responsible financial life, where they could not before, then he has accomplished something.

In my experience, most people are not excellent managers of their money, and they do not have the expertise or discipline to adhere to a budget, let alone understand how to even set one up. Most will feel a budget is a restrictive device, but I tell my clients it is meant to be flexible. It is the planning and organizing of obligations that counts.

Many people who think of themselves as entrepreneurs use "debt as leverage" instead of understanding that "debt is risk." Many married couples fell into the mortgage company advertising pit of second mortgages to "make home improvements" and "increase the value of their house" at the same time. Now I have a few clients who are struggling because either one or the other spouse has lost their employment and wages. The market value of homes have plummeted, and the loan-to-value of their mortgage and second are now upside down.

They did not prepare themselves and fell into hidden traps of heavy marketing and borrowing. I remember one day I received three solicitations from one mortgage broker: one sent in my name, one to my spouse, and one to us jointly. What a joke — I never fell into the second mortgage trap.

I do not see that mortgage company's agressive advertising in my mailbox now.

With TMMO, Dave gives people a road map that they've never had before. That road map includes the Baby Steps, and the personal stories give hope to people who feel they are at the bottom and in despair. Unless you've been there, you can't imagine how terrible it feels. This is not a "get rich quick" scheme / guide, but a straightforward plan.

Dave makes the comment, "If you've tried to get out of debt before and you're reading this book then try it my way, because it works." And it does.

So, if Dave can help multitudes of people make headway with a $14.95 book, I say it's awesome. If people are motivated more by attending seminars or listening to tapes in their cars, then so be it. If they put these things to work, they will become one of the small percentage of people in this country who are not a part of the trillions of dollars of consumer debt that had a hand in bringing this economy to its knees. The high interest rates and foreclosures have stripped people of everything, including their self-worth.

I saw a television commercial the other day. It was a furniture advertisement, and the thrust of the ad was to "spend your tax refund wisely." I believe it is unwise to spend a tax refund in the first place. Why not save it, instead? How many people listened to that commercial and thought "Yeah, it's OK to spend my tax refund, and I can't wait to do it."

My sister gave Dave Ramsey's book to me last August on my 50th birthday. Gracefully receiving the book as a gift (I have a nice library), I thought the book would collect dust. In September, I began reading it, and as you might imagine at my level of employment in my profession, I can handle several obligations, and have responsibly.

I began reading the book in September, and skipped over the personal stories. However as November and December rolled around and I had shaved off this obligation and that obligation in my "debt snowball," I began to read the stories. They deserve the attention.

I have since admitted to my sister that I did not think the book would help — but then I explained my story and where I am today because of a $14.95 book.

That is because I now have one to tell, too: I have brought over $30,000 in consumer debt to almost $0.00 in 7 months. Other people may not be as fortunate, or have the ability to do something like this in such a short period of time — and also during a bad economy. However, I believe it would almost be irresponsible not to do so if the means were there. And that's what I got out of TMMO.

I'm tellimg my clients about it, and I am going to hand out his book to a few who I know would be helped. They can be motivated. I'm not saying that my client base is in despair, but these economic conditions call for something creative for some of them. Actually, it's not creative at all; it's simple and straightforward.

My house is next and I'm never going back.

Jack L. Sheldon, Jr., CPA
Mesa, Arizona

Thanks very much for the email, Jack. I know that "never going back" feeling, too. It's a great one.

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— Posted by Michael @ 8:10 AM

** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
[About Our Liquid Savings Goal]