Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Financial Peace University

My church is offering a 13 week class called Financial Peace University.  When I first heard the name, I admit, I thought it a bit schmarmy.  When I first heard the accompanying acronym FPU, I giggled because, inside, I'm 4.  Anything with PU in it will forever be funny to me.

Given the timing of the class, the fact that it's being facilitated by one of our church members, and that the premise makes complete sense, I signed up.  The fact that I didn't have the money for the materials (workbook, book, forms, lots of DVDs and other stuff) didn't matter.  It's important enough to my church that they fronted me until I have the cash.  They provide child care, too.  So all obstacles removed, I went tonight for the first class.

I am SO jazzed right now.  If I could, I would pay to have the kit sent to everyone I know.  And I would beg them to do the course online or at home or at any local offering.  The courses teach you everything from how to pay off your debt, how to build up an emergency savings fund (and defines that "emergency" does not mean things like pizza cravings or a new boat), how to talk to creditors, how to invest, shopping for mortgages, insurance, etc.  It covers the gambit of finances.  It teaches you a new discipline - a life change - away from that "buy now, pay later" mentality most of us are in.

It sounded a little weird.  You go and watch videos of Dave Ramsey speak.  Ok...and I can't do this from home...why?  Well, you can.  And some friends of mine are actually going to do it that way.  But I'm going to a group class.  We all talk and share experiences, thoughts, questions.  It's all confidential.  I actually joked that ok, I guess I won't blog about anyone's guilty secrets.  But maybe I will share some of mine some day.  I'm sure my story is not as bad as some.  And I'm sure it would make some squirm.  Either way, in my book?  It ain't good.

The goal is to teach us how to take control of our finances.  How to stop throwing our money away.  How to have a plan for down the road.  I used to feel that kind of stuff was against the Christian ideals I had.  It seemed greedy.  It seemed gluttonous.  It seemed lacking in faith.  Well, I've been reading the old testament these last few months.  And I was surprised (even before this class) to read how many times the old testament basically comes out and says, hey, don't owe anyone and don't lend to anyone.  Don't put yourself at the mercy of a lender.  Store up your resources for those bad times like famines and lean times.

Well, let's see...personally, I have been a slave to the credit card companies since I was in my 20s.  Almost every time I get a positive savings balance, I piss it away on some ridiculous excuse for an "emergency".  If my car dies tomorrow, I actually have no way to pay for the fix because my credit cards are all maxed and have been shut off.  If I have a huge illness, same deal.  I'm a single mother of two, people!  This is not the way to live.  And all of the leeway you can cut me because of the divorce?  That doesn't count for all the stupid debt I've accrued.  The divorce itself - the lawyer fees?  That accounts for maybe about...let me think...maybe 1/3 of my current debt.  Maybe.  The rest is my own stupidity.

Now, let me tell you this: even though it's bible based?  I don't think it would really offend anyone's sensibilities.  My ex isn't a huge fan of "Christianity" as a whole.  Looking around, I don't really blame him.  But I sat in the class tonight thinking, I bet the ex would actually LIKE this class.  Dave Ramsey is spot on.  There wasn't anything he said that was off.  The bible scriptures are in the work book for reference.  They're not screamed at you.  He's not preaching hellfire and brimstone.  He's just pointing out truths that everyone there could own.  We all sat there nodding our heads and going, "Oh man, that's me!"  And this guy is FUNNY.  He has lived the hell himself.  He talks about it some.  He's not some greedy rich guy trying to make money off of you.  He has walked it and he lives it and he lays out a plan that anyone can follow.  It will look different for everyone.  It will take me longer than my friend who sat next to me.  But it will work.

So I'm taking it by the horns.  I will take this course and put it into action.  And when all is said and done?  I will have 3 to 6 months of living expenses in a true emergency savings account.  I will have all my debt paid off except my mortgage.  And that I will be working to pay off early.  I will buy things in cash.  I will no longer be slave to Visa and Master Card.  I will live like our grandparents most likely did.  And their parents.  I will SAVE up and THEN buy something.  I have about 25 years of habit to unlearn there, folks.

This won't happen over night.  It probably won't be completed this year.  I don't care.  I'm on a mission to undo this mess.  And God is already showing me how he's on my side on this one.  If this interests you in the SLIGHTEST, check out the link I gave above.  I'm not getting any kickback.  I'm not advertising.  I'm just thinking that now is a good time to take some hard steps.

I'm just sayin'...


Allie said...

It is so impressive to hear of a church doing something so practical like that. The Church can make it feel like money's a dirty word sometimes, something that is irrelevant. I've heard of some famous preachers asking all those in the audience who were in debt to give $1000 each in faith that God would pay off their debt and more - a freaky story which I hope is a one-off. How refreshing. Are other churches using the same programme?

Lift Up Your Hearts said...

We started this class 3 weeks ago and I agree - we absolutely LOVE IT.

Trish Ryan said...

Woo hoo! That sounds so cool! And you're awesome for sharing so openly about it. Just reading about your plan made me happy and excited for the future--consider yourself prayed for, even more than usual :)

Sarakastic said...

"Consider yourself prayed for" I love that saying Trish. I'm stealing it. Lately it seems like everyone is saying "I need a bail out life is not fair", it's so nice to see another take out there.

Kendra said...

I LOVE that you are getting to do this . . you will be forever changed!! We live some of the Ramsey principles, and they have paid off big time with us financially. You can do it!!! I'm pumped for you, too!!

Stacy said...

Congrats! Sounds like a great program.

Jane said...

The fact that you are being so proactive with the finances is awesome!! Yay for YOU!!!!!

Debor said...

I took the Financial Peace University course at one of our local churches last fall. Yes, it does sound a little hokey, but holy cow, was it life changing!

I finally had to face up to some cold hard truths about my spending and my financial picture as a whole. I am now moving to a less expensive home, I have saved my baby emergency fund, and I am working on my debt snowball. I know you'll know what all that means!

I don't work for Dave Ramsey either, but I would highly recommend his course!