CCC Blog

Financial Peace University

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:

  1. $767,296 of non-mortgage debt
  2. $431,474 of liquid cash
  3. 80 credit and charge cards

In a second “snapshot,” our group (which then stood at 25 people) claimed:

  1. $54,768 of non-mortgage debt paid off in seven weeks,
  2. $53,907 in money saved in seven weeks
  3. 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

Posted by Michael Karunas with

“Like a Rock”

Throughout the bible there are many people we remember for the great things they did.  David slew Goliath.  Joshua knocked down the walls of Jericho.  Elijah conquered 400 Canaanite prophets on Mt. Carmel.  But of all these great men who did great things, the greatest may be one we remember for what he didn’t do…  Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.  Imagine Joseph’s situation.  Shortly before his wedding to Mary he finds out, from a stranger no less, that Mary is pregnant with someone else’s child.  Wouldn’t Joseph be justified if he canceled the wedding, left Mary and went off to find a partner he could more fully trust? 

Yet, Joseph is known not for any of these things he could have done, but for what he does not do.  Joseph did not run away.  Whatever hurt, anger or insecurity he may have felt, it did not get in the way from his hearing the angel of God tell him, “Don’t leave, because this child needs a father in his life and you are the one who can fill this role.”  And so he stayed… for the child’s health and happiness, if not for his own.  An infant and toddler Jesus didn’t care what kind of emotional roller coaster Joseph might have been on after the angel Gabriel sprung all of that news on him.  An infant and toddler Jesus needed Joseph to be there for him, even if he couldn’t properly say it, or understand it.  So Joseph chose to be present in Jesus’ life and to be the father that both Mary and Jesus would need.  Not only did they need Joseph, we all needed him.  Without him the story of salvation could not have been written.  Long before Jesus was able to save any of our lives, Joseph saved his.  Remember that when King Herod ordered the infant Jesus be killed, it was Joseph who sheltered and protected Jesus in Egypt until it was safe to return.  

Being a father doesn’t happen when you have your own biological child.  It  happens when we see the world through the eyes of the children you are raising.  It is to recognize their needs and to strive to meet them, even if it means sacrificing the fulfillment of our own.  And what children need more than anything is a father (and mother) present for them – there for them. 

Throughout my childhood and upbringing, my father was always there.  He organized and coached my baseball teams, kept stats for my basketball teams, took pictures at every concert and sold concessions when he wasn’t doing anything else.  He arrived early enough to watch every pregame performance of the marching band and picked me up from nearly every football practice.  He got there early for those pick-ups too.  He’d always get there to catch the last 15 minutes and all the guys learned to watch for dad’s arrival knowing that when he came practice was almost over.  A few years ago, I received an email, completely out of the blue, from an old friend.  We played junior high football together.  His dad was a big-time college football coach and a bit of a local celebrity.  I hadn’t talked with him in twenty years, but he had read something I had written about my dad’s death in 1998.  Here is a portion of what he sent me:

 …I’m sorry your dad’s gone.  I want you to know that I always looked up to him and was a little jealous of you.  He was always there.  He shared an amazing gift with you and, in a sense, with me.  My old man was always gone.  I loved him for doing something he was passionate about, but he was always at work.  I think about your pops quite often, because I’m doing what he always did.  You should know that he played an important role becoming the man and father I am today.

As much as I love hearing wonderful things about my father, this email really isn’t about my dad or his dad.  It’s about what children need – rocks of strength, support and stability in their lives.  As Joseph reminds us, having a child isn’t what makes us a parent.  True parents ask not “What is best for me?” but “What is best for the children in my life?”  Which is exactly what God – our heavenly parent did and does for us.  God walks with us, lives with us, died for us, and rose for us.  God is our rock and refuge, always there, whether green pasture or dark valley.  So fathers, make time for your children.  Be there for them.  Work hard for them and provide for their future, but not at the expense of spending time with them.  Years from now, they will remember this as the most significant thing you did.  Men, you don’t have to have children of your own to be a father.  Remember, Jesus wasn’t Joseph’s flesh and blood.  There are many children today whose own fathers can’t or won’t be the fathers they need them to be, and you may be the father figure they need.  And when you are there for them, you will be following a wonderful biblical model of fatherhood.

Blessings – Michael

Posted by Michael Karunas with

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