If you’ve read any of my blog posts on marriage, you know that I’m a big Dave Ramsey fan. He has a no non-sense, common sense approach to finance that makes sense to me. So when I heard that he was writing a book with his daughter on how to raise kids to be smart with money, I was naturally interested.
So how did things turn out?
WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT?
In Smart Money Smart Kids, financial expert and best-selling author Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze equip parents to teach their children how to win with money. Starting with the basics like working, spending, saving, and giving then moving into more challenging issues like avoiding debt, paying cash for college, and battling discontentment, Dave and Rachel present a no-nonsense, common-sense approach to changing your family tree. – From smartmoneysmartkids.com
Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze share countless stories about how Dave Ramsey raised his children in line with his money management system. Half of the book deals with practical advise on WHAT they should DO, and the other half of the book deals with dealing with their heart and WHO they should BE.
I could try to give you an overview of the content, but simply listing the chapters will give you a pretty good idea where the book will take you.
- Chapter 01 – I Was That Little Girl…
- Chapter 02 – WORK – It’s Not a Four-Letter Word
- Chapter 03 – SPEND – When It’s Gone, It’s Gone
- Chapter 04 – SAVE – Wait For It
- Chapter 05 – GIVE – It’s Not Yours Anyway
- Chapter 06 – BUDGETING – Tell It What To Do
- Chapter 07 – DEBT – It IS a Four-Letter Word
- Chapter 08 – COLLEGE – Don’t Graduate From I.O.U.
- Chapter 09 – CONTENTMENT – The War For Your Child’s Heart
- Chapter 10 – FUN – Put the Fun in Dysfunctional
- Chapter 11 – Generational Handoff – Blessing or Curse
- Chapter 12 – I Was That Dad…
If you’ve ever read or listened to Dave Ramsey, you know what you’re getting with this book. While it’s co-written by his daughter, she’s really just a younger female Dave Ramsey with more hair, and that isn’t a bad thing.
Each chapter is deeply practical and filled with stories of how they personally lived out these principles. It gives each section credibility and clear applications. The book always ties ideas to actions.
The book also does a great job of discussing how to raise children at different ages. The book’s instructions range goes from paying three year olds quarters all the way to how to budget for your daughter’s wedding. Likewise, the book doesn’t assume that everyone reading the book is a traditional atomic family. There is an entire chapter dedicated to discussing various different family situations and how to navigate the subject.
While I have nothing negative to say about the content of their system, I did have a few issues with the book as a whole.
First off, with the way the book starts off, very quickly it feels like there is an over emphasis on building wealth essentially as an end itself. Really this isn’t a problem with this book uniquely as it is with Ramsey’s teaching as a whole. Their is a clear focus on wealth building. While certainly his idea of wealth building involves “Living and giving like no one else,” I don’t see scripture placing the value on wealth building that he does. I don’t think it’s inherently a bad thing, but it’s not a goal one should strive for.
The line between wealth building for the sake of giving and wealth building for the love of money seems far too narrow for me to feel comfortable staying so close to it. He does speak against the love of money, but given how much he pushes people to think about money all of the time, I would personally battle the love of money more.
Second, the last several chapters of the book deal with how to deal with your child’s heart. For me it seemed like these should have been the first chapters in the book. Before there is a discussion of what your children should do, you need to know why you’re doing it and who you want them to be. Their behavior should come from an out pouring of an inward change. Contentment isn’t an after thought to help behaviors. It’s a key element which will transform behavior.
Third, Dave has a very narrow view of how things should work. He allows for few exceptions to his system. I can’t fully endorse such a narrow view of what such a variety of people should do. I’m not advocating cherry picking his system, but when he makes comments about how he expected all of his kids to go to college right out of high school and graduate in four years and speaks negatively about taking more than four years to graduate it rubs me the wrong way.
Lastly, for a deeply practical book which gives advise on what to do at different ages, I wish the book would have had several summary pages. It would be very easy to make a chart which gives suggestions for what to do at different ages and what lessons to teach. It seems like something I might create on my own to make the book more useful moving forward.
Overall I highly recommend the book for anyone with children who still live at home. It’s practical and wise. Just make sure that you don’t turn money and wealth into an idol in your home. Ramsey doesn’t teach anything which would cause you to do so, but I firmly believe what leaders do in moderation, followers do in excess. The book tells several stories of Ramsey followers who went way over the top when it comes to teaching their kids about money.
If you’re looking for a book on how to raise smart kids who are smart with money, this is the book for you.