We were in line at a restaurant getting lunch with friends when my daughter piped up “Ohhhh, Mama! Look!” She used that sing-song tone that tells you that someone is doing something wrong. I looked up, fully expecting one of her siblings to be climbing on a counter or putting straws in his nose. “She’s using a credit card!” my daughter hissed loudly. To my embarrassment, she was pointing to my friend, who was, indeed, paying with a credit card. “Oh, honey,” I quickly corrected her, “That’s our family’s rule. It isn’t everybody’s rule. We don’t use credit cards, but it’s okay if other people do.” And then I apologized to my friend, who found the whole thing very amusing. Oh dear, I thought, we have become THAT family.
We are a Dave Ramsey family. Dave Ramsey is a teacher and guru of everything having to do with personal finances. My family’s interest began 6 years ago or so when my husband began listening to the Dave Ramsey radio program daily and coming home bugging me with Dave says this and Dave says that. Finally, to appease him, I agreed to sign up for Financial Peace University (FPU), Dave Ramsey’s 13 week DVD-based course on personal finances. We got so much out of FPU and saw such a positive change in our family that we have since become course facilitators, hosting FPU in our church four times. Here are some things that the course has given us:
A Plan– In facilitating the course, we hear over and over from families “once we started actually managing our money, it was like we got a raise.” FPU is not selling secrets and rich quick schemes. There is nothing new or novel in this course. The course is about basics- saving, budgeting, investing, debt reduction, and using the money you have more wisely. And yes, a big part of that is halting credit card use. It works.
Discipline– Instead of my husband and I making vague promises that we would “do something” about our finances, the course offered us a framework to really do it. Meeting for 13 weeks with a group of people all focused on the same goal- getting a hold on their finances- gave us encouragement and feedback that helped immensely in setting us down the financial freedom road.
Confidence– Because I didn’t understand them, insurance, retirement accounts, mortgages, and the like always made me really nervous. When people would use terms like “mutual fund” I felt like I was out of my league. How could I make sound financial decisions if I didn’t even understand what I was doing? FPU demystified all of these things so I could be confident about the financial decisions I made for my family.
Unity– One of the most cited causes of divorce in our country is financial difficulties. An early lesson in the FPU course is “Relating with Money”. FPU made my husband and me like-minded about our financial plans and goals.
Freedom– Life looks a lot different if you have no debt besides your mortgage. That means no car payment, no credit card bills, no student loan. It is very liberating. Living life frugally has gotten us there with a little guidance from FPU, and it can work for you, too.
Here’s where to find some free and reduced-price Dave Ramsey stuff:
- You can attend your first FPU class session for free! From their website: “The first lesson is totally free! All you have to do is register to attend. Your class coordinator will be available immediately after the free lesson if you wish to purchase your family membership and attend the full course. Family memberships usually cost around $100 and include all class materials.” You can find a class here. http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/locate-class/
- There are lots of free budgeting and planning tools on the Dave Ramsey site, especially in the “Tools” section.
- Also, find some great Dave Ramsey deals here, including a membership kit for 50% off ($99 down from $199, their “lowest price of the year”).
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