Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Total Money Makeover (Chapter 4)

Continuing the "myth versus truth" theme from chapter 3, Dave Ramsey spends more time in this chapter dealing with ideas people have about riches, retirement and bankruptcy, among other things. This chapter is called Money Myths: The (Non)Secrets of the Rich. Ramsey uses the phrase "(non)secrets" because, if you really stop and think about some of the "myths" in this chapter, they simply don't add up to real wealth.

Here are the myths, and truths, in chapter 4:

  1. Myth: "Everything will be fine with I retire. I know I'm not saving yet, but it will be okay." Truth: "Ed McMahon isn't coming." (Love it!!)

  2. Myth: "Gold is a good investment and will cover me if the economy collapses." Truth: "Gold has a poor track record and isn't used when an economy collapses." In fact, gold is one of the last things "used." In a true collapse, services and bartering become the norm.

  3. Myth: "I can get rich quickly and easily if I join these groups, buy this tape set, and work three hours a week." Truth: "No one develops and makes a six-figure income on three hours a week." Sadly, I fallen for this one before. Not again! Oh, yeah, and this section also briefly describes the "real estate at no money down" commercials.

  4. Myth: "Cash value life insurance, like Whole Life, will help me retire wealthy." Truth: "Cash Value life insurance is one of the worst financial products available." If you listen to Dave's radio show, he talks about this nearly every day. He is so right about this, too.

  5. Myth: "Playing the Lotto and other forms of gambling will make you rich." Truth: "Lotto and Power Ball are a tax on the poor and people who can't do math." Not to mention, they are immoral!!!

  6. Myth: "Mobile homes, or trailers, will allow me to own something instead of renting, and that will help me become wealthy." Truth: "Trailers go down in value rapidly, making your chances for wealth building less than if you had rented." This short section (just three paragraphs) is worth the price of the book if this thought has ever crossed your mind.

  7. Myth: "Prepaying my funeral or my kids' college expenses is a good way to invest and protect myself against inflation." Truth: "Plans for prepaid funerals and college expenses give low rates of return and put money in the other guy's pocket." To be honest, this is one area where I disagree with Ramsey. I know the math, but there is also something to be said for peace of mind.

  8. One of my favorites in the entire book--Myth: "I don't have time to work on a budget, retirement plan, or estate plan." Truth: "You don't have time not to." Well said!

  9. Myth: "The debt-management companies on TV, like AmeriDebt, will save me." Truth: "You may get out of debt, but only with your credit trashed." If you are deeply in debt and have ever considered using one of these companies, buy this book and read (and re-read) this section.

  10. I'm skipping a few myths in this chapter, and will only mention a couple more. Myth: "I'll just file bankruptcy and start over; it seems so easy." Truth: "Bankruptcy is a gut-wrenching, life-changing event that causes lifelong damage."

  11. Myth: "I can't afford insurance." Truth: "Some insurance you can't afford to be without." Shameless plug for other articles on this blog: make sure you scroll through the archives and read James's articles on insurance. They are well-done and thorough in looking at different types of insurance.

  12. Finally, myth: "If I do a will, I might die." Okay, men, how many of us have thought that? (My hand is in the air.) Here's the truth: "You are going to die--so do it with a will."

This chapter may be the most practical in the "attitudes" section of the book, and it is worth reading several times. Again, in this first section, Ramsey is trying to get you to see money in a different way. If you've ever thought any of these myths, you need to read Ramsey's ideas.