My Experience with Financial Peace University
by Katie Wagner
I first heard about Financial Peace University when I was in high school. My parents took the class at our church, and just like that Dave Ramsey became a household name. My parents had always been responsible with finances, but after the class a very noticeable change occurred in our house. Suddenly, I was hearing my parents talk about budgets, IRAs, insurance options, and their financial goals.
For the most part, my mom handled bills on her own before FPU, but now they were having monthly budget meetings and it was clear even to me that their finance goals were decided on together. They were so committed that they actually printed off these goals, hung them on the refrigerator, and we had a mini celebration every time one was checked off.
Seeing the impact this had on the way my parents communicated – and their new attitude about money – I was excited to learn that our church was offering an FPU class for students. That class was my first time personally experiencing the lessons, and I was so thankful I took that class before I went to college.
At the time, it seemed the information wasn’t extremely relevant to my no-income-no-debt-living-off-my-parents high school self, but the main thing I took away was how important minimizing (and ultimately eliminating) debt is in order to build wealth. That goal of graduating college with as little debt as possible drove many of the decisions I made over the next few years. It was tough. I worked a ton and spent very little, but by the time I graduated with a double major in finance and math I had only $2,000 in student loans. It was such a proud moment when I called my parents one month after getting my “grown up job” to tell them I was debt-free!
Three months later, however, my bank account looked pretty much the same, and I realized I needed reign in my carefree summer spending and make a plan. To get the ball rolling, I borrowed my mom’s CD audio lessons from when she took the class and listened on my way to and from work.
This time, I was able to get so much more out of the class. I updated my investments at work, learned about which insurance options I needed, and – most importantly – got motivated to get back on a budget. Nine months later, I was able to buy my first car in cash!
Around this time, I casually mentioned FPU to my boyfriend at the time (now my husband). We were pretty serious, and I knew he was the one for me, but I also knew how important it was to be on the same page with finances. Thankfully, he had an open mind and quickly became interested in listening to the CDs after hearing them briefly in my car when driving together.
We both agree the lessons are not only extremely informative but also downright entertaining! They will literally have you laughing out loud. This has been such a blessing in our relationship. We have been on the same page about finances since then. This doesn’t mean we agree on everything – far from it actually – but making a budget each month forces us to address any disagreements before the spending happens and figure out a compromise that works for us.
One of my favorite things about the Financial Peace program is the freedom it gives me to spend money on things for me. It is in my nature to save money more than to spend it, and I always struggled with feeling guilty about buying new clothes or going out for lunch with coworkers. Now I know exactly how much money we decided to save and how much I get to spend on things for myself. It is so freeing to know that I can get that tikka masala with extra naan and not feel like I should be putting that money in the bank instead.
On the flip side, the hardest part about living on a budget is having to say no when our “fun money” runs out. It can get hard and even feel isolating when I can’t buy “that thing” or go out with friends, and instead I’m making dinner for what seems like the 500th night in a row. I was really struggling with these feelings about nine months ago. We were in the middle of funding our wedding and it felt like ages since we had been able to do anything fun.
Fortunately, a coworker mentioned that when she felt discouraged about budgeting, she would listen to the Dave Ramsey podcast. I figured I would give it a try, and I am so thankful I did. Listening to people going through the same thing and hearing their ecstatic debt-free screams and success stories was revitalizing. It gave me so much encouragement to know that we weren’t alone in making these short-term sacrifices and that it would pay off for us, just like it was paying off for those people.
Ever since then, whenever I am feeling bummed about having to wait until next month to buy something, or discouraged that my homemade chicken alfredo just isn’t as good as a restaurant’s, I flip on the Dave Ramsey podcast and get re-motivated.
That is why I am so excited that Mercy Commons is going to be hosting a Financial Peace University Class this fall. I know firsthand the tools that this class gives you to succeed, and I am so excited to see how I can apply the things I learn to this stage of my life.
More than anything, I am excited for the sense of community this is going to bring. Even though it is totally worth it, being on a budget can be hard. Having the support and encouragement of people who are going through the exact same thing is priceless.
June 26, 2019
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