Five years ago, my husband and I spent the best $100 of our lives by joining Financial Peace University. FPU is a 9-week class hosted by Dave Ramsey, author of Total Money Makeover and Complete Guide to Money. This class teaches you how to become debt free using strategies that work. Since taking this class, my husband and I have paid off both of our student loans, cars, and credit card debt. We are now debt free! Well, minus our mortgage, but we are getting there.
Financial Peace University is open to anyone and will meet on Tuesdays, beginning on March 20, 2018 from 6:30-8:00pm at The Bayou Church in Lafayette.
Here are our biggest takeaways from the class and reasons that we tell couples all the time to spend the $100:
FPU helped us establish the discipline of tithing.
Sure, we tithed before this class. Real truth: We tithed whatever we had leftover at the end of the month because we “couldn’t afford” it every month. We are called to set apart the FIRST 10 percent (tithe literally means “tenth”) of our earnings to God. It’s written throughout the Bible that we need to set that money aside and give it to our church.
Giving these “first fruits” of your earnings back to God will bless you abundantly. My husband and I have seen this first hand after the August 2016 flood when we were able to pay in CASH for all of our repairs. And when our A/C units went out and his car died in the same month, my husband received a bonus and we were able to pay in CASH for a completely new A/C system and new (to us) car. We could spend a day talking about the blessings we have seen since we have started tithing.
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10
It put my husband and I on the same page.
My husband and I used to fight about money. It was the only thing we fought about. He and I were not on the same page because we had different priorities. He prioritized rebuilding the fence, whereas I prioritized date nights. He was the saver and I was the spender so I thought that meant I was the reason we couldn’t get out of debt. Dave Ramsey taught us that you need both the saver and the spender in a relationship – and that you can live harmoniously if you sorted out the priorities and told your money where to go.
It taught us to have an emergency fund.
Our emergency fund saved us so many times. Did I mention the August 2016 flood? Well, that was actually the second time we flooded that year. The first time, our washing machine overflowed and actually caused more damage than the August flood. We had saved up enough money in our emergency fund that we were able to pay for all the repairs in cash, and we had a little bit left over so our account wasn’t completely drained. We have been so thankful to have that emergency fund on so many different occasions!
We are now debt free.
Within the first year after taking the class, we had saved $1000 for our emergency fund, paid off our credit card and my car. “Baby steps” is what Dave calls it. The second year, we put all of the monthly payments from the car and credit card into paying off my husband’s student loan. Then, finally, a year and a half ago, we paid off my student loan (which was our biggest debt). We did this all while tithing 10% or more every month. We cut up all of our credit cards and we used cash everywhere we went. Every dollar we spent was thought out and had a purpose that we both agreed upon.
FPU taught us to work hard now to have fun later.
“Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” This is Dave Ramsey’s famous quote. It means that you make some sacrifices now so that later you can live the lifestyle you want to live. Our parents didn’t jump out of college into the house of their dreams, and yet for some reason, that was my expectation for my family after graduation. Our parents had to work hard – and that was without the temptation of Hobby Lobby and Target to drive us farther into debt.
Not all the fun was lost.
Sure, we were challenged to live on a strict cash-only budget, but we still had date nights once a month. They were just cheap(er) date nights. We also set apart an allowance just for me, and an allowance just for my husband. This meant I could still purchase that cute new top at Target or buy a new piece of home décor from Hobby Lobby, just maybe not in the same month. I planned and saved my $50 for things I really wanted instead of impulse buys. (Down the road, I, the spender, requested a little boost in my monthly allowance, but that just meant that we had to pull that money from another area of spending.)
I’ve learned how to be content.
I am driving around in a 2007 Odyssey with a ding in the side from a hit and run – but I’m ok with that because she still has some spunk and life left in her. We live in a 1500 square foot home, and oh how I would love an additional room for an office or dining room or play room, but it would not be worth it for the added stress that would come with a higher mortgage. I’m content with this simplified lifestyle and I love that I have learned the value of a dollar. We aren’t just debt free, but we are stress free (at least financially), and that is worth more than a larger home and a new vehicle to my family.