Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions, and many of us have resolved to get our finances in order this year. You may have heard of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University – a 9-week course that walks you through the 7 baby steps of financial freedom. The idea is to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, pay off debt, and start saving and investing for the future.
I took Financial Peace University when I was single, paid off all of my debt and put 6-months of living expenses into the bank within 18 months. The course changed my life! Once I gained discipline in my finances, I became more disciplined in other areas of my life, including losing over 100 lbs, and going to the gym at 4:45 every morning.
Once I got married, we used some of my emergency fund to pay off a debt my husband had. Then he had major car problems. Then we decided we needed new furniture. And bought a new car. We didn’t get ourselves into a major financial hole, but we certainly weren’t living by the principles I had learned.
I have posted before about my sister and her husband, and how they have completed all 7 baby steps. Well, this fall they taught another Financial Peace University class, and my husband and I decided it was time for us to give it another go. Since I had already paid for a kit when I took the class the first time, we could have attended for free, but I opted to buy another kit (they discounted it since I was an alum) so we could have the updated one.
This time around the class was not as life-changing for me, and we still aren’t 100% back on the plan. It was still a good experience, and has helped to get us motivated to get our money back in order. We will get there!
It seems like there is a lot of confusion and misinformation by those who haven’t taken the course, so I am going to answer a few of the questions that I am most commonly asked about Financial Peace University.
Why do I have to pay for a kit? Is it worth it?
The Financial Peace University kit generally costs around $100, and seems to be the biggest obstacle to people taking the course. Many feel the course should be offered for free, and that it is counterintuitive to PAY someone to tell you how to get out of debt.
First of all, the kit is well worth $100, whether you take the course or not. You receive all of the lessons on CD, a workbook, a hard cover copy of Dave’s book, and several other tools. It seems to me that the people who protest most about paying for a kit are the same ones who wouldn’t blink about spending that $100 taking their family to a movie, or buying a new pair of shoes, so I suspect much of the protest has to do with not being ready to truly change.
Although I do really like the kit, the part of the class that I really felt was worth $100 was the accountability. Its like a gym membership – I am a lot more likely to go if I am paying for it, because I don’t want to waste that money! We more than made back the $100 in BOTH classes before they were over by paying off debt, tightening our budget, and not wasting money.
Can’t I do it at home?
Yes! You can certainly take Financial Peace University at home, but I definitely recommend finding a class to attend if you can. The accountability and camaraderie really make it a better experience, and I think give you an extra kick in the rear to be “gazelle-intense.”
Doesn’t Dave Ramsey Idolize Money?
I have to be honest, I thought Dave Ramsey was a real jerk before I took Financial Peace University. But once I really started listening to the lessons, and even his radio show, I started to see him in a whole new perspective. God has certainly called Dave Ramsey to different things than he has called me, but I have found his advice to be Biblically sound, and mostly just common sense.
Having a lot of money is not a sin, but being a poor steward of what you have certainly is. God has blessed Dave Ramsey with a whole lot of money to steward, and from everything that I can see he does so Biblically, and faithfully. He doesn’t mince words with people on his show, but the more I listened, the more I realized that these people needed some tough love just like I did when I was putting groceries on a credit card.
I would recommend Financial Peace University to people who need to change the way they deal with money. Dave Ramsey often says that his course isn’t about the math – if finances were just a math issue most of us wouldn’t be in the dire situations we are – it’s about behavior modification. I think it’s the type of program that you need to either do 100%, or not at all, but I know for a fact it WORKS when you do commit.
Have you taken Financial Peace University? Or are you still living paycheck to paycheck?