Friday, July 27, 2007

"The Total Money Makeover" (chapter 12)

Before really getting into the seventh (and final) baby step itself, the chapter begins by asking a very important question: "Why do you want to have a Total Money Makeover, anyway?" In other words, now that you have no debt (including the mortgage) and you have a fully-funded emergency fund and you have retirement savings and the kids' college is taken care of.......

what now?

Ramsey suggests that we do three things with the money: have fun, invest, and give.

Of course, as Christians, giving should come first. Now that we have achieved a level of financial security that so few ever do, should we not use that as a grand opportunity to give like we've never given before? While the Lord and His work should be first in our giving no matter our financial situation, when we reach this stage, we should truly seek to "ramp up" our giving. Sadly, many Christians do achieve this level and then just spend the money on more "stuff" for themselves. Remember the words of the Bible? "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required" (Luke 12:48).

But, we should also continue investing. Why? Because at this point our investments are still quite small--for retirement's sake. I love to work, but I would also like to know that, when I retire, I can live off my investments and also beat inflation. So, we need to continue to put money away in investments for retirement. Ramsey suggests continuing to put away at least 15%. (Pages 207-212 have a good discussion as to why this point is important.)

Finally, we should have some fun. I think far too many people have too much "fun" when they reach this stage, but we should have some! You have sacrificed very hard to get to this point. Now you can enjoy it. Take your spouse out for an all-out dinner at one of those "chez" restaurants. Buy something you've always wanted. If you want, buy another house (for cash!!!) as an investment or as a rental. The possibilities are great to think about!

Lest you think the book is over, though, Ramsey adds a 13th chapter to "sum up" the book.

However, when you make it to this point, it's time to give like you've never given before...

...and enjoy the fruits of your labor some, too.