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Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover: Reality Check

How long does Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover take to complete?

I wish I knew. Folks at Ramsey Solutions don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. They have viable statistics for different people at different stages. Some people might get steps 1 and 2 knocked out in a year. Some might get 1 through 5 knocked out in a year.

Here’s the truth: no promises are made on how long it will take to reverse your personal financial stupidity.

Truth #2: The longer you wait to start trying, the harder it will be and the longer it will take.

The average time to pay off all debt and compile three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund is 2-3 years. Amazewife and I did the math when we started to get our ducks in a row around two years ago. Our numbers said we could be done with step 2 – be debt free – by May 2015. Then it was November 2015. Now it’s the middle of April. By our initial count, we should be well on our way to our 6 month pile of money.


We have $15,500 left in my student loan and we’re expecting a new baby. Our main emergency expense has been vehicles. And which car has it always been? Not the one I deliver with. Nope. It’s the Princess Transport Vehicle (PTV). That’s only the most important of the two by far.

Month after month, quarter after quarter, the budgeted extra on debt gets swallowed up by the unexpected. We’re two months in to the 9 months we have planned to sock away the extra into a baby fund. We’ve made deposits, but we’ve already seen things chip away at it.

Oh, and AJ the Mechanic says he thinks our head gasket is failing on the van. $2,200.

It might sound like I’m complaining. I am. Sue me. This is not going as I expected. It is difficult to handle.

A quick estimate puts me at delivering pizzas for another two years. That’s 24 months of the extra money it brings in above and beyond our operating budget. That amount of time allows for 16 out of the 24 months permitting the deposit of the whole of the extra. Or about $16,000.

Please, somebody call the whaaa-mbulance.

Are you in that same boat? Did you jump on your Total Money Makeover with dreams of wisdom fairies laying waste to your debt in a year? Two years? Then did you have it spread out to 4? Or 5?

Are you about to give up? Don’t.

I will say again what Dave has said: you’re not fixing a money problem. You’re fixing the person in the mirror.

The Total Money Makeover is a transformation of self. It is repentance; it is a change in the way that I think. It makes me into an instrument of good in the world.

I – we - have got to pay the price for our stories. We’ve made our own bed. We no longer want to sleep in it. The Master has told us how to change, and we’re trying. We can’t take our whole lives to get into a mess then expect to get out overnight. He’s got to heal us.

This is a long road. It’s longer than I thought. It’s longer than I want it to be. But as a great mentor of mine pointed out to me today:

“What’s the alternative? We both know what would happen if you were to give up.”

I’m committed to trying to do what needs to be done, for as long as it needs to be done. And so should you be. Don’t settle for the alternative. The fish swimming with that current are headed to a cliff. At the bottom of that nasty waterfall are the sharp rocks of angry divorce, deep depression, financial instability, uneasiness, lost sleep and stress.

Keep fighting against the flow the world wants you to follow. Embrace the wisdom of the ages. You’ll change your family tree and generations will thank us for it.



  1. You are SO far ahead! All of those repairs and surprised that you have taken care of WITHOUT feeding the interest monster are points in the plus column! Keep it up!!!

    1. Yeah, I sleep much better at night because of it, too!


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