Imagine this if you will:
- You have no credit card debt
- You have no student loans
- You have no car payments
- You have no mortgage
- You are saving for retirement
- You are saving for your children’s college funds
- You are building wealth and giving money away
This is what Financial Peace University (FPU) is all about. It’s a 13-week common sense program to help you get there. Our program actually lasted 15 weeks because we had two holidays during our program.
Before attending the program, I had read two of Dave Ramsey’s books: Financial Peace Revisited and The Total Money Makeover, so I was going into the program with a good working knowledge of his program. Nothing of what Dave talks about is rocket science. He describes his program as “80 percent behavior, 20 percent knowledge”. I would completely agree agree. There was very little new information. The reason that I was interested in the program was to jump start our plan. We had started with our budget and were moving along on our plan, but we thought the program might help motivate us. And it did, but at a very funny point. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Thirteen weeks is a long time. There were many times when we didn’t want to go. Because the classes were on a Sunday afternoon, it was sometimes very difficult to stop what we were doing and get to the church for our class. I always felt better once we got there though. Each class included a video and then a small group discussion. The discussions were probably the most valuable part of the entire class. It was great to sit down with others and support each other through the process. Everyone was in different stages in their lives, but we all had one thing in common: we wanted to do better.
So we went through the program, made our budget each month, and paid off $5,000 worth of debt. We were following Dave’s baby steps which are:
1. $1,000 in an emergency fund ($500 if you make less than $20,000 a year)
2. Pay off all debt except the house
3. Have three to six months expenses in savings
4. Invest 15% of your income into retirement accounts
5. College funding
6. Pay off your house early
7. Build wealth and give
It was during week 13 that we heard about step 7. Week 13’s video was titled “The Great Misunderstanding”. It was all about being able to help those around you once you get to step 7. The stories in that video touched my heart. I want to be one of the people in that video. I want to be able to help people in my community when I hear a story about a family in need. It was that video that made me want to complete the program and get debt free.
Was the program worth it? Yes, I completely think it was. Being there every week made us really focus. Jeff and I are now both involved in our financial future. The financial stress I felt before we started the program is almost completely gone. We have a written plan for our future and I know we are going to get there.
If you have specific questions about FPU, please feel free to post them here. I did not going into a lot of detail about the program since I’m currently rereading The Total Money Makeover in order to review it for the blog and get those ideas refreshed in my head. If you have attended FPU, please post your thoughts here as well. I think it’s a great program that can really change your life.