For those who know (or don’t know), my husband Joe and I started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University in January of this year (2016). We had heard so many good things about Dave Ramsey and FPU and how his knowledge and the program helped many overcome financial debt and burdens. Although a little apprehension in the beginning, Joe and I decided to start the class at our church. Let me tell you, no one could have prepared us for the experience we had. It was painful, enlightening and eye opening to say the least. I won’t share everything from the class (because I feel everyone should take it), but I will share some of my take-aways and my personal perspective.
So, I say that Dave has ruined my life because it was literally turned upside down from class to class. The things he spoke and taught forced me out of my comfort zone, which is an uncomfortable place to be; but we know that nothing grows in the comfort zone! Anywho, here’s how Dave ruined my life:
I had to come to grips with the fact that I am the nerd (term used in the class).
When you go through the class you will learn what role you play when it comes to money management or should I say, money mis-management?! I definitely learned which role I play, which didn’t come as a shock to my husband because he literally laughed out loud. I, on the other hand, didn’t find it funny. The nerd is the one who’s the planner, the control freak, and so on. Although I knew this, some of the things he said were a little painful (because who enjoys being told about themselves?!), but very insightful and humbling. As the nerd, I learned that I can’t take over but that it’s important to include your spouse in the budget and make a plan together. Because planning comes natural for me, I took over without even thinking about it. However, because we think and handle money differently, it’s important to have both perspectives. As the nerd, I don’t always know when it’s time to take a break, loosen up and have fun; on the other hand my husband is all about having fun and enjoying life 🙂 So, we balance each other out which is wonderful! Because of that balance it’s important that the nerds include the free-spirits in the budget.
“Swiper no swiping!” No more willy-nilly card swiping.
You mean we can’t just go into the store, pick up whatever we think we can afford and just swipe? Not anymore! We learned about the cash system, which is awesome! At first we were apprehensive about carrying cash in a plastic world, but we found what works for us and carry cash only when needed for things like gas, hair cut, nails and food. We found that when we pulled out cash for budgeted items we were sure to stay within our budget, sometimes even falling below the budget which meant cash left over (yay!). We knew what we were spending week to week and where our money was going. Dave always says that we should,
Give every dollar a purpose.
We felt like we had gotten a raise because we were finally able to see where our money was going; we weren’t randomly swiping and hoping for the best. When you have cash in your hand you think twice about certain purchases. Spending that last $20 bill feels worse than swiping your card for $20. Dave made us develop a relationship with money again which has gone away with the use of plastic.
Prepare for emergencies?
What emergency? So Dave is all about preparing for emergencies because let’s face it, they do happen unexpectedly (imagine that!). Like most people, in the event of an emergency we would wing it – whether that involved using a credit card or not paying a bill or two. However, because we know emergencies are inevitable, it’s important that we plan and prepare so that we aren’t scrambling when they occur. You’d think as a planner and the nerd, I would have figured that one out! Dave recommends building an emergency fund first before paying off debt. Let me tell you, when we built up that $1,000 in our emergency fund, it was almost like we gained some newfound power. It provided a sense of security that I thought I was creating by being the handler of the money. BUT when we worked together, decided how we were going to build that emergency fund and actually do it, it not only created a sense of accomplishment for the both of us but provided that security blanket we needed in an emergency (which by the way happened shortly after, but we had the funds to cover it! Look at God!).
Our moves are determined by what fits in the budget.
That sounds boring and terrible and no fun, but it actually gave us freedom! We couldn’t do everything that fell into our laps (although if you’ve been following me I’m sure you’re thinking we had a pretty grand year lol) if it didn’t fit into our budget. Saying no because we couldn’t do something is more liberating than saying “yes” to everything in an attempt to keep up with everyone and because you just don’t want to say “no”. Eating out for lunch everyday is something we can’t do, doesn’t fit in the budget. New clothes and shoes whenever we feel like it is something we can’t do, doesn’t fit in the budget. Random unplanned trips or outings is something we can’t do, doesn’t fit in the budget. We plan for the month, put aside money in savings, cover the four walls (#davetip), allow a miscellaneous fund for the unexpected, pay bills and whatever doesn’t fit that month’s plan won’t get done. We try again next month! Learning how to budget and work the budget has been one of the most liberating things we’ve done because it put us both back in control of our finances instead of our finances being in control of us.
Broke says you can’t, but a budget tells you when you can.
Realizing that being in debt should not be the norm.
Debt is literally a way of life. It seems like everyone has some type of debt, whether student loans, credit card debt, mortgage, car notes, etc. That’s just how it is and it’s completely normal. But it shouldn’t be! Proverbs 22:7 says, “the rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” When we realized that we are slaves to all of our lenders it really put things into perspective. Slaves aren’t free, they can’t do what they want, and until we realize that true financial freedom doesn’t involve debt of any kind we’ll always be indebted to something/someone. Being in debt is not comfortable. Having majority of your paychecks go to paying off debt is saddening. You work hard so you can pay back someone else – more than what you were originally given. How is that a way of life? We had to really sit and think if this “norm” is what God truly intended for us to experience. It’s not. We got to learn what God says and thinks about debt and how important it is for us to be stewards of our money.
Unlearning old habits and learning new habits and a new way of thinking.
You mean I have to unlearn 30 years of financial habits? I can’t and I won’t. But I did and still am. We are still a work in progress but praise God we aren’t where we used to be! So Dave pretty much called out and challenged our entire life throughout FPU. Everything we’ve come to know and accept about credit, student loans, car notes, savings, etc. was not working for us and we discovered why! We had to completely change our mentality. Saving had to become a priority and Dave always says, “pay yourself first” (of course after tithes). This sounded insane to us! Put aside savings BEFORE you pay your bills? Why? Well because YOU made that money. Why shouldn’t you pay yourself? How much you put aside in savings (for emergency fund first) is up to you, but it’s important that you set aside money for a rainy day FIRST. We were just tired of that broke mentality.
Broke people stay broke because they don’t know how to manage their money.
Dave says that your most powerful wealth building tool is your income. No matter how much money you make or don’t make you have the power to build wealth. It’s not about how much you make, but what you do with it.
We should not rely on credit.
Credit cards have gotten me in trouble. I recalled with Joe when I got my first credit card, it was my last year in college and I was told that I needed it to build my credit. With a few purchases here and there and paying them off the next month, you will build your credit, I was told. Welllllllll, those few purchases turned into many purchases which led to a nearly maxed out card. How Sway? But that’s normal right? It is, but it shouldn’t be. What we’ve come to learn is that if you have to use credit, you can’t afford it. Simple. There are wiser ways to build credit, but the goal should be to have money in the bank not build credit. During the course of FPU, Dave encourages everyone to cut up their credit cards. It was a little alarming at first, I must say. My first thought was, “what if I need it?” Well, if you have money in the bank, you won’t. I was reliant upon my credit card, which was nearly maxed out so in the case of an emergency it wouldn’t have helped anyway lol.
So, these are just some of the many things Joe and I learned through the FPU course by Dave. I could go on and on because I’m thinking of more things as I type, but I’d just rather you go through the course, learn and have your life as you know it ruined as well 🙂 Oh, and if you haven’t figured it out by now my life hasn’t been ruined, but it has been changed for the better! I would absolutely, 100 times, recommend any and everyone going through the Financial Peace University course. I would put that right up there with my therapy recommendation lol. Jesus, therapy and FPU! Seriously LIFE! This course has helped me and Joe have those difficult money talks, it’s helped us learn about each other’s financial perspectives and habits and it has helped us grow closer. We enjoyed it so much that we are thinking about facilitating some day. Dave’s approach and his insight is real, biblical, factual and personal. He’s not some guy born into millions telling people how to manage money. He speaks from experience because he’s been where many of us are now. From going through this course Joe and I have a desire to be better stewards of our money. We are currently “living like no other so that we can later live and give like no other” (#davequote). We are on our road to debt freedom (hopefully debt free by age 33).
If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? Luke 16:11
The money that we make is not ours, it’s God’s; what we do with it and how we handle it is our gift to Him. What does your gift to God look like?
If you have taken the FPU course, please share with me your experience! If you have not taken the class, what are you waiting for?? Get your life here!