Last week we concluded our first Financial Peace University class. I hope this will be the first of many, as there have already been a handful of people inquiring about another opportunity to take the class. Mike and Gerri Munos, and assistant Paul Gorden, did a truly fantastic job leading the class and I want to share some statistics from the last nine weeks.
- We had 30 people begin the class (9 couples and 9 singles)
- 66% (or two-thirds) of the original 30 were from inside Central (1/3 came from outside the church)
- 4 people (2 couples) who attended did so free of charge. They are couples getting married at Central this year and as a “wedding gift” to them, I agreed to pay for their taking the class as part of the pre-marital preparation.
- The ages of the group ranged from the mid 20s to the 70s.
Gerri Munos asked for a week 2 “financial snapshot” of our group. On April 16, we collectively claimed:
- $767,296 of non-mortgage debt
- $431,474 of liquid cash
- 80 credit and charge cards
In a second “snapshot,” our group (which then stood at 25 people) claimed:
- $54,768 of non-mortgage debt paid off in seven weeks,
- $53,907 in money saved in seven weeks
- 24 credit and/or charge cards closed
I was a participant in the class for two primary reasons. First, I wanted to see what the class was like so I could be informed of exactly what we were promoting here at Central. I have known Dave Ramsey’s work for a long time, read one of his books, and have incorporated versions of some of his principles into my personal life, but had never actually taken FPU. Secondly, I believed our family was in a pretty good position in terms of spending, saving and giving but I was curious about what we might learn.
I was immediately, and consistently, impressed with how often I walked away from each class with several “take-aways” for things that we could do in our household to improve our overall family situation. Two things emerged in particular: (1) I saw how, without paying close attention, there was a lot of “hidden waste” taking place in our spending. Because of this, I realized how much more we could be saving for our retirement and for college, if we were more mindful and intentional about our expenses. This has led to an ongoing conversation in our family about “wants” vs. “needs” and; (2) I learned I was not doing a good job teaching money management to our children.
To date Amy and I are working on a “master list” of changes we would like to incorporate into our lives but I can safely say that FPU has already made a positive impact. We changed the ways we buy groceries, saving over $75 a shopping trip. We still carry two credit cards (one for each Amy and me) but we have not used them in the last two months for things other than that for which we receive reimbursement. And we have changed the way we work with our children.
There is now a job chart in the kitchen with a “commission” (dollar amount) for each chore (25 cents to $9.00). Each child maintains a ledger and every two weeks (when I get paid), they get paid. Ten percent immediately goes to church, 10% goes to their savings account and 80% goes to their own “piggy bank.” Every time they choose to deposit into their savings account, I promise to match the donation up to $10.
We plan to look at dates in the fall (possibly mid to late August through October) for a second session of Financial Peace University. I believe in the importance of this much more than I did 10 weeks ago and will continue to pledge support to anyone – from within the church or without – who takes and finishes it.
Blessings – Michael