It got our attention because we were tired of paying off a debt only to finding ourselves quickly adding a new one to replace it. Our church advertised Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program, but we already knew how to pay off a debt. We became intrigued however by his assertions one could live debt free-forever. Plus the program offered investment and retirement planning. We thought we might learn something beneficial.
We attended FPU at the beginning of 2013 and if you regularly read this column, you’ve shared in our success as we’ve implemented program steps. You’ve also read about how we’ve gone completely off the tracks of our personalized financial plan at times. Attending an hour session one night a week and then doing homework before the next meeting sounds easy enough, right? Be forewarned, if you go and don’t do the homework, you won’t succeed and thus are wasting your time.
The homework isn’t difficult, but it is time consuming some weeks. Basically husbands and wives go over their finances with a fine toothed comb, leading to a lot of snarly messes. We are long-marrieds with plenty of experience in arguing about money, so this part was easy for us. We struggled, however, with making choices. Dave talks a lot about choices and leaves all the final decisions with you. This is both the beauty and the beast of your financial planning. Do what you want, but as Dave is quick to remind, you’d better point your money in the direction you want to go if you’re ever going to get there.
Our household is about halfway through our Financial Peace goals after a year and a half on the program, with time off for bad behavior. Yes, I readily admit we’ve back burnered our plan at times, necessitating some rebalancing and a refocus. We aren’t gazelles, but more of a slower sort of animal. We may not be racing forward, but like tenacious tortoises, we continue and should complete our plan in another 18 months. It takes two to three years, on average, to complete the first three steps of Financial Peace and while spending the next three years on an austerity budget is enough to make you stop reading right now; wait, there’s more.
Looking back on our efforts, I am astounded how much ground we have covered, even with my backsliding to Starbucks and those unbudgeted trips out of town. Because we have such focused finances, falling off the wagon hasn’t been a fatal crash. Rather it’s a reminder we have choices and now must get back on task. Our recent bathroom remodel is an excellent example of a budget buster. We spent it and now we must get back to the basics once more. Financial Peace is still ours, even after this major spending snafu.
If you’re ready to get serious about your own finances, well managed or not, consider attending Financial Peace University. A new class is forming at a local church, which I am not affiliated with in any way. There’s no benefit to me for you to attend other than you thanking me someday for sharing the information. Misery loves company, they say, and believe me your budget will be unpleasant. The fun part comes when your debts melt faster than your makeup sliding off in this ridiculous summer heat.
Financial Peace University is being held in Sebring beginning on Sept. 9. Call the host church at (863) 385-7848 for more information and best of luck to you from a Peaceful graduate.