A Fragment from “The Total Money Makeover”

With regard to the self-help genre at large, several tropes are worth mentioning. Many of the books, including The Total Money Makeover demand what I in my paper called “self-fulfillment through asociality.” They emphasize “personal freedom” through various mechanisms, depending on what area of fulfillment the respective piece is addressing. You must not rely on others for satisfaction, you must find it within yourself; by improving your relationship with yourself, and you can improve your life. This reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote, “there is no such thing as society.” The Total Money Makeover is especially relevant when it comes to neoliberal governmental practice, as it combines psychological health with financial “fitness.” I will now offer some quotes and analyze them. It is also important to recognize how Ramsey establishes himself as an authority, by both empathizing and directing the audience:

It seemed every month I sat at that same table with the same worries, fears, and problems. I had too much debt, too little savings, and no sense of control over my life. No matter how hard it worked, it seemed I couldn’t win. When Sharon and I “talked” about money, we ended up in a fight, leaving her feeling afraid and me feeling inadequate (Ramsey, 1)

First of all, we have an equating of debt and financial struggle with lack of control and unhappiness. Debt, money issues, can destroy every aspect of your life. The reader is assumed to have a wife, and having marital issues because of financial difficulties. Not matter what he does, he cannot “win” – now we have a sports metaphor juxtaposed with an alien, external world that cannot be conquered without figuring yourself out.

The reader is also assumed to be married (heteronormativity) and there is a clear allusion to normative gender roles. His wife, Sarah, is afraid and cannot understand what is wrong. Ramsey feels inadequate because he cannot “take care” of his wife, like the American working male should. Possibly the most prominent theme in this book is equating all positive facets of life with lack of indebtedness and wealth. The reader (who is assumed to be a male) is supposedly comparing his subjectivity to Ramsey’s – comparing his story. Ramsey is establishing himself and his family as “normal,” and creating a narrative with specific steps about how he and the reader can achieve “financial fitness.”

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