Budget Babble Reviews: Mind Over Money

There’s a unique link between finance and psychology that is often ignored. It’s a blind area for a lot of financial professionals, and therapists usually aren’t equipped to troubleshoot the manifestation of their client’s financial issues.  Dr. Brad Klontz attempts to bridge this gap in his book Mind Over Money: Overcoming the Money Disorders That Threaten Our Financial Health.

I love the idea of this book. It was a much needed spotlight on this divide, but at some points Klontz’s points fall flat as he delves deep into psychological banter that seems to be overkill for his audience. Overall it’s a good book to add to your finance book collection if you think you might have emotional issues relating to money that are holding you back from achieving your goals. If, however you are looking more for financial advice or a step plan of action to achieve these goals, this may not be the book for you.


Let me start by saying that I’m appreciative this book was written. I think it’s an area of finance that needs more attention going forward and I truly think it has the potential to help people that need the emotional support that doesn’t always come along with personal financial guidance. Klontz tries to lay the groundwork for understanding your psychological and emotional self as well as any possible “money scripts” you may have. “Money scripts”, Klontz explains, are childhood interpretations of financial flashpoint events that shape the way we think about money as adults. These are very important things to be aware of because they can influence our financial behavior without us even noticing. At least by becoming aware we can start to retrain any bad financial habits we may have developed as a result of these “money scripts”.

Klontz also spends a decent amount of time explaining the various money disorders we may have developed as a result of these scripts and how to start to self-treat them. This was the most helpful and interesting part of this book, in my opinion. I always want to walk away from a finance book and feel like I learned something new, and this is what I took away from Mind Over Money. Unfortunately, it comes a little late in the book, so if you bore easily when it comes to psychology, you may not have made it to this point.

Lastly, one of the best things about purchasing Mind Over Money, is that each copy of the book (eBook format included) comes with a code that allows you to take a self-assessment to determine if you have any unhealthy emotional tendencies related to money. In my case the results were spot on. I’m generally moderate on most financial scales, but the assessment identified that I might have workaholic tendencies while can be attributed to a money script symptom. While I believe my tendency results from a family where it was “cool” to work hard and the feeling of productivity was a high in and of itself, I can see where this could have a connection back to money and always feeling like you want more of it. It’s something I will be sure to stay aware of going forward to ensure that it doesn’t start to rule my financial life.


While Klontz’s background as a psychologist makes him uniquely qualified to help spot financial traumas we may have suffered that are now influencing our finances as adults, he spends a lot of time delving into stories of people that may have experienced similar traumas to yours. This can prove helpful in identifying any outstanding issues you may have with your upbringing and money, and I think it’s wise to address because it really gets you thinking back to your roots with money and if there are traumas associated with them. The majority of the stories for me, however, started to seem unrelatable or inflated in some way. At some point I found myself wishing for a little less storytelling and a little more advice on how to troubleshoot these disorders.

One of my least favorite views expressed in Mind Over Money, is the position Klontz takes that most people know how to manage their finances, but can’t execute what they know they should do since they have emotional baggage related to money management that must first be addressed. I’m not sold on this theory. While it may be true for some individuals, I think often we can feel overwhelmed by our finances and where to even start. Since we’re not provided with any formal financial education in school, we’re often left to sponge up what little we can from our parents that may have their own issues with understanding their finances or even a total inability to talk about them. It’s normal to have no idea where to start when it comes to your finances, and we should be open and honest about what we don’t know.

Additionally, Klontz identifies so many money disorders, that it almost seems impossible that you wouldn’t fall into one of these categories. I suppose that he’s trying to identify tendencies you may have and not necessarily diagnose full blown conditions all of the time, so it can be helpful information to have. That being said, if you are the type of person who grows overly concerned and stressed about such things, this book may do more harm than good. It’s hard to be objective when we’re looking introspectively and the last thing you need is to self-diagnose yourself with a money disorder that doesn’t truly exist.


  • Ultimately, I recommend Mind Over Money if you are:
  • A couple learning to navigate finances together.
  • An overspender who needs help curbing your spending habits.
  • An underspender who saves at all costs.
  • Struggling to get yourself to engage in your own financial life because you are too emotionally overwhelmed by it.
  • Confident you understand the principles of personal finance, but can’t seem to make it work for your own life.


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Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook

Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, finance writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband and adorable daughter. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking their lovable mutt for walks, or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.

Budget Babble Reviews: The Total Money Makeover

Over the past few decades Dave Ramsey has built an empire based on his inspirational finance advice and his book The Total Money Makeover (TMM) is just that… inspirational. No matter what your financial situation The Total Money Makeover will motivate you to do better. The book lays out the basics of managing your finances, but spends most of its pages trying to motivate its reader to face their financial reality and then react accordingly. As a best selling personal finance book for several years now, it is certainly striking a chord with its readers and tapping into a hunger for a more financially fit life, but as a nuts and bolts finance book, TMM has some noticeable shortcomings.  

TMM starts off  by setting expectations in a defensive tone. It addresses what the book is, and more importantly, what it is not. He claims that it’s not sophisticated or complicated (agreed); it’s not going to mislead you about your investment returns (kind of agree); it’s not wrong (ehhhh… we’ll come back to this). Ramsey makes very clear in this section that he knows some aspects of the book are controversial and he makes no apologies for that. This may honestly be the worst part of TMM, so hang in there, it gets better. The next five chapters are spent discussing a number of items that may or may not add to your life, and more than likely are things you already know, but may need to hear again.  

Finally, nearly 100 pages into a 200+ page book, Ramsey gets to what he calls his “Baby Steps”. These are what he deems to be the seven steps to take in order to achieve financial security.  The steps he lays out here make sense to me. It gives finance beginners a little perspective on where to start and what to think about that’s so important when you’re just trying to get your feet wet. Depending on your financial situation, not all of these steps may apply to you, but they’re a general guide that is worth the read.

The book wraps up with some templates in the back that you may or may not choose to use. They are a good general guide of how to track expenses, debt, etc., but other templates may serve you better. Take a look around the interwebs and see what works for you, or visit our template center for various other options.


The Total Money Makeover does a few things very well. Specifically, I really love that it starts with prompting you to take a look inward at what your financial picture really looks. It makes a point of snapping its reader out of denial however difficult that process might be. It’s something that is necessary and can make a huge difference moving forward and developing a plan to whip your finances into shape. If you’re still in denial about where your finances stand, you’ll never feel the full motivation needed to make the changes that will really help you.

Additionally, one thing TMM does extremely well is motivating its reader to action. It presents a debt-phobic approach that will leave you feeling inspired to pay down ALL of your debt. Credit card debt, school loans, car payments, mortgage payments… as far as TMM is concerned, you should get rid of all of them ASAP. TMM focuses a lot of time and pages on extinguishing debt. It’s an important topic for the majority of us, and his “Debt Snowball” plan has helped a lot of people get out of debt. I personally felt motivated to throw all of my extra money into paying down my mortgage, but there can be a downside to this as well which I’ll address as one of my least favorite things below. Overall, however, if you’re looking for someone to motivate you to get in gear, this book is a good place to start.

Lastly, Ramsey does a good job of laying out the basics of personal finance that you should be thinking about and moving through in his seven “Baby Steps”. I’m a big fan of giving individuals the tools that they can take and apply to their own unique situation, and Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” serve as a good surface level guide to provide some general direction.


Now onto my least favorite parts of The Total Money Makeover...

Overall, my least favorite aspect of TMM is Dave Ramsey’s absolute refusal to acknowledge that his system may not be the best system for everyone. I find this especially frustrating because by ignoring that fact, he’s doing a disservice to his readers. At Budget Babble, we’re huge supporters of understanding yourself and your “Personal Finance Philosophy” (link to blog) before implementing any plan. If you don’t understand what’s important to you and the root of your financial beliefs you may leave yourself running into a wall during your financial journey that you just can seem to break through.

One great example of this is Ramsey’s Debt Snowball. The Debt Snowball approach encourages its users to pay down the smallest loan first and then take the money that was going towards that loan to tackle the next largest loan until all loans have been paid off. The idea is that by seeing loans be paid off in full it will keep you motivated to keep paying off your loans. I agree that for certain people this can be a great motivator, but from a technical perspective, this is not the smartest way to pay off your loans. It will cost you more to pay down your loans this way than if you were to pay off the loans with the highest interest rate first. My wish is that Ramsey would have presented both alternatives and allowed his reader to choose which option works best for them.

Another example of this is Ramsey’s insistence that you don’t need to build a credit score since you should be paying for everything in cash. He encourages his readers not to have a credit score, which is nearly impossible for most people. If you took out even one college loan, you will have some semblance of a credit score by the time you graduate. I found this advice generally unrealistic, and almost dangerous. It’s prudent to have a good credit score in the event that it makes sense to buy something with debt. Ramsey rejects the notion that there may be times where it may make sense to use debt as a tool. When used responsibly, however, debt can help you build wealth and having a good credit score with ensure that you can get the lowest possible interest rate on that debt.

Lastly, the TMM has been widely criticized for its “Christian” undertones. As a non-Christian, I thought this would bother me more than it did, but most of the “Christian” aspects were expressed in semi-relevant Bible verses that weren’t nearly as pervasive as I expected. That being said, the tone can be a little insensitive to the idea that there are non-Christians that may want to read this book, and if this is something you find upsetting this likely isn’t the book for you.


Ultimately, I recommend The Total Money Makeover if you are:

  • In debt and looking for a way out.
  • Looking for inspiration to motivate you to take control of your finances.
  • Interested in learning the basic steps to take to get your finances in order.


Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook

Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, finance writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband and adorable daughter. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking their lovable mutt for walks, or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.