I said I was probably going to talk about Financial Peace University at some point, and here you go. First, I would like to say something about myself: I hate talking about money. Every time I talk about money with anyone, I wind up in tears. Money — or lack thereof — has always been a thing of fear for me. This class has made me feel less fearful.
For the majority of the time we were in FPU, I wasn't quite sure how to describe the experience without getting all worked up. Every week I left the class feeling different things based on each lesson (and my resistance or passion toward said lesson), and mostly being unable to describe the things I was feeling. One night while talking about the class, Matt finally was able to help me articulate how I feel.
Going through this program hurts. But in a way where you know you're growing, and it's a good kind of hurt. But it still hurts.
The premise of the class is that you're following these seven baby steps. (We're on Step 2, paying down your debt, but other steps include creating an emergency fund, paying off your mortgage and saving 15% of your income for retirement.) To accomplish these baby steps, you create what Dave Ramsey calls a zero-based budget, where you consider your income for the month and then you categorize every single dollar, so you know where your money is going. This is supposed to ensure that you don't get to the end of the month and wonder where all your money went — because you know exactly where each dollar was going as it was going there. It's a great system, and the video lessons are quite entertaining and fun to watch.
But after that first lesson, I cried because it felt too oppressive. For most people, I don't think it is, but because we're living on grad-student-and-freelancer salaries, accounting for every single dollar means that some months, some categories have to remain empty. And I didn't like the idea that my extreme frugality just wasn't good enough, and that we still had to cut back from there.
But as the weeks passed, I felt more and more conviction that we would be able to succeed at this if we kept up with this program. And despite my tears and fears when it comes to finances, I feel like we're on a road to feeling at peace about our financial futures because of this class.
If you're struggling with money or debt, wondering where your paychecks go, bemoaning that there's "too much month at the end of the money," I would absolutely recommend this program. In fact, even if you're great with money, I would still recommend it. It's a good financial check-up, the classes were awesome, and it was excellent to do it together with Matt, because we're able to make sure we're on the same page about our money. There were several couples in the class who had gone through it multiple times, and there was a huge range of ages of people in the class — even some who had already retired!
There's no reason not to give it a try. :)
Have you gone through Financial Peace University? How would you describe your experience?
I didn't get paid to take the class or write this post, and all opinions are my own. Also, Dave Ramsey's system is meant to be cash-based, because it "hurts" more to use cash than it does to swipe a credit card. We don't feel at this point we are able to switch to a fully cash-based system, so we found another way that works for us. I'll talk about it in a future post. (EDIT: EEBA Review posted here.)