Photo courtesy of Lumaxart.
Last week I graduated from the 13 week Financial Peace University course that I participated in at my church. We actually had some of the trappings of a regular graduation: diplomas, cake and punch (okay, it was diet soda but punch sounded more traditional).
Unfortunately, about half the class was missing (only one dropped out after only a few sessions). That’s the problem with summer classes as several were on vacation and one had moved away. Anyway, I digress. During the week I reflected on what I learned during the course.
Planning. I think the course is great for those that do not have a clear financial plan. Although Mr. Boomer and I are financially stable, I had no real clear cut plan other than pay off debt, save money and retire. This is the way to do it, but I at least needed more direction. FPU’s seven “baby steps” provide that plan and focus.
Budgeting. I like Dave Ramsey’s zero-based budget which encourages me to be more focused on paying off debt (car and student loan). During the course, students have access to a great web-based budgeting tool called “Gazelle Budget”. It is a nifty tool but when my membership that accompanies the course expires I do not plan to pay $67.50 (and that’s with a 25% discount) annually for the privilege of continuing to use it. There are many free budgeting tools available online which I will discuss in a future article.
Financial Savvy. Although the course does not make me a financial expert by any means, FPU does explain complicated topics in a way that ordinary people can understand. I now know what REIT (real estate investment trust) means, what to look for in insurance products and the power of cash in fnancial dealings. I also know to never use my 401(k) plan to pay off credit card debt.
Relationships. I recently joined the church hosting FPU and this was my first group activity since becoming a member. My classmates and I shared financial history with each other that people often don’t even tell their immediate family. The trust we put in each other built bonds that will continue as we are all members of the same congregation.
Appreciation. Most of the students are as financially stable as me or more. However, a few are struggling and the lessons had extra urgency for them. It reinforced how thankful I should be for what we do have and the importance of continuing to be on plan.
As you can see the class was well worth the tuition and although I do not agree 100% with Dave Ramsey, his course is very valuable. Do you have financial peace?
What is a Zero-based Budget