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Radio talk show host Dave Ramsey wants you to put your lifestyle on a diet—and pay off your debt. "Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge," Ramsey exhorts. "What to do isn't the problem; doing it is."

The basic money challenge, Ramsey believes, is saying no. His advice springs from scripturally-rooted common sense: Create an emergency fund. Don't use credit cards (you don't need a credit card to build your credit, he says). Zero percent car loans aren't really "no cost." Don't cosign for a loan.

He emphasizes the importance of creating a budget, planning for retirement, estate planning, and using the "debt snowball" (paying off your debts from smallest to largest).

Once readers are on sound financial footing, Ramsey urges them to do three things: have fun, invest, and give, which he calls "the biggest reward of the entire workout." Augmenting his advice are testimonials from those who have implemented his often biblically-based "total money makeover" with dramatic results.

Ramsey fans won't find much variation from his previous books here, but new readers will discover the wisdom to whip their finances into shape.

Cindy Crosby is the author of By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer (Paraclete, 2003).

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Shaping Up Flabby Finances
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April 2004

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