How no turned into yes in three days

Today’s Wednesday guest post is written by Liz Neunsinger. Liz and I share a passion for education and getting our financial houses in order. I’m so happy that Liz is sharing her story about how she and her husband both got on the same page when it came to their finances, even if it took him a bit longer to jump on the bandwagon. Her story shows that we can all change our ways. We just need a place to start.

tugging at money

The most important thing I learned about my marriage came when we decided to get out of debt.

My husband and I married in 2010. At first, we didn’t combine our finances. Neither of us had a clue about how much debt the other brought to the marriage or how much the other made. We paid bills willy-nilly and were getting by. Savings or investments? Forget it! We were all over the place with no path and no goals.

About 8 months after the wedding, I had the opportunity to attend Financial Peace University (FPU) through my work. This was the 13 week FPU course offered in 2 days of intense study. My husband couldn’t attend with me. The first day I listened hard. Wide eyes and dreams floating in my head, this was what we were going to do!

I went home that night and spoke at 100 miles a minute for 3 hours about how great this course was and how it was going to change our lives! We needed to combine our debt, combine our finances, and get on a plan. Finally, when I took a breath, I asked what he thought. “No.” he said so matter-of-factly. My heart sank. We were not on the same page. He didn’t want to combine finances because he didn’t want me to pay for his debt. He didn’t like the budget restricting his purchase power. Bottom line, without his willingness, this plan was going to fail.

I went to the next day of FPU with a sad heart. I listened and dreamed, but it wasn’t the same as day 1. The next day went by. On the 3rd day after we talked about a budget, my husband said, “OK, let’s do it.” Immediately, I realized what happened. He needed a few days to think about and research this new plan. He needed time to ponder. I, on the other hand, was impulsive and excitable. I was ready with little thought. This nugget of information has been the pinnacle of communication in our marriage ever since on EVERYTHING! When I want something, I tell him what I want and he researches it for days. When he wants something, by the time he tells me about it he has already researched it and chosen what he wants. I’m very amenable to his request because I know it’s calculated. Then we budget for it and purchase it.

The best thing that could have happened to us is to decide to get out of debt. Not only has the budget been a monthly map to staying debt free, but the lesson I learned about how to communicate with my husband has kept us strong for 4 years. By the time we talk in depth, we’re both in a mindset to have the discussion, which leads to the best outcome.

When you talk to your spouse, how can you use your personality styles to get you both on the same page? How can you help your partner understand your side before passing judgment? What can you share with your spouse about your communication tendencies that will help them talk with you?

To follow Liz and her adventures in education and finances, check out her blog Study Paycheck.

Financial Peace University for $59! Ends Thursday 10/22

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is on sale until Thursday. The online edition is just $59. You can also get other versions on sale. If you’ve always wanted to attend FPU, there is no longer an excuse.

Jeff and I think the program is great. We attended live at a local church but I think with all the online support, the online version would be good too. If you have any questions about FPU, please post them here.

Review: Financial Peace University

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.

Financial Peace University: Week 1 reaction

Jeff and I started Dave Ramsey’s  FPU yesterday at our church. Financial Peace University is a 91-day (13 week) program to help get you back on track financially. I have already read Financial Peace Revisited and The Total Money Makeover. We’ve been using Dave’s strategies for over a year and paid off about $13,000 in debt last year. In the last 30 days we’ve paid off one credit card and one student loan. We decided to do the program to help jump start our budget and really get things moving. Our goal is to get everything, except the house paid off in the next two years before we start a family.

The sessions work like this: each Sunday, we meet for two hours. For the first hour, we all meet together and watch the video for that lesson. Then we meet in small groups to discuss the lesson and our own personal situation. Everyone agrees that whatever is said in the small groups is confidential. Doing that really helps people to open up and share. We have a large number of people taking it at our church. Over 60 people signed up. There are people in all age groups. There are people in all different situations. For me, I think it’s great to have the small group discussions so you can get feedback and support from other people. It keeps me motivated to keep going.

The first week is about saving and the introduction of the baby steps. The first baby step is to save $1,000 in an emergency savings account. We have already done this, since we’ve been following the plan. He wants you to do this in the first month of the program. If you household income is less than $20,000, he suggests you put $500 away. He then jumps to step 3 to discuss having three to six months of expenses in savings. While we are on savings, we should discuss savings, right? The part that bothered me was that there was no discussion of how to get there. I thought maybe it would come in the discussions. It didn’t. I thought maybe it would come in the reading from the book (as part of the homework, you were supposed to read a couple of chapters from Financial Peace Revisited), which I reread last night. It wasn’t in those chapters either.  I went through the CD’s and the online resources. Still no suggestions. I haven’t checked out the message boards yet. I’m sure there are probably suggestions and discussions there.

The one message I did really like from this week: Look at your emergency savings as insurance, not an investment. This is your insurance plan in case your furnace stops working or your car breaks down. The one change we are going to make is to open an Electric Orange Checking account so that if we do have an emergency, I can write  a check from that account to pay the bill. That way, I don’t have to put the emergency on a credit card while waiting for the Orange savings account to transfer the funds to my regular checking account. It would be too easy to carry a balance and use that transferred money for something else.

My fear is that some people will look at the first baby step and think that this just can’t be done. If you had to save $1,000 in 30 days, how would you do it? Where would you cut back or how would you increase your income?

Have you attended Dave Ramsey’s FPU?

Next week, I’m starting Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at my church. It’s a 13-week financial course, two hours per week. I’m sure some of you are thinking Kristin, you’re a CPA. Why are you attending a financial course? I’ve read two of Dave’s books: The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace Revisited. I loved both of them. Jeff and I are currently using Dave’s budget. Plus, there are always new things to learn. I’m still not sold on his cash system (paying for everything with cash, no debit cards). Maybe after the course, I’ll feel differently. I also know some of the couples that are going through the program, so this is like a 13-week support group to get us all jump started.

I am pleased to announce that we paid off our last appliance this week. We purchased all new appliances, one by one, after we moved into our house. They were all old and needed significant repairs. We purchased them all with interest free financing and paid the balances before the 0% period expired. Last night I made the last payment on the washer and dryer. We are also planning to pay off one of our student loans this month. It was a small student loan that I took out my freshman year in order to pay some expenses my other loans didn’t cover. It feels awesome to knock down our debt. I was also able to purchase 2 new computers this month (yes, I said two. That’s a blog topic for another day) with cash and without touching my savings.

I was paying a few bills last night and decided to pay the utility bills and the credit cards so I could determine if we had enough to pay off the student loan. I realized that I could not pay these bills because I had paid them last month as soon as the bills arrived and the new bills have not arrived yet. It feels so good to be that far ahead. I hope you have reached that kind of financial peace. I know we still have a long way to go, but it feels good right now. If you haven’t reached this point, consider picking up one of Dave’s books.

Have you attended FPU? What suggestions do you have for those about to start? Do you need to read Dave’s books before attending? Have you attended other financial workshops that you thought were good?