There is a constant wailing and gnashing of teeth. Dante’s Inferno is on full display as you enter into the abyss of spreadsheets and budgets…
NO, I’m KIDDING!
Financial Peace University is a 9-week class about personal finance, on handling money God’s and Grandma’s ways. Does that mean you’ll be taught to give it all to a church? No. It means that the best way to handle money is the way your grandparents did. And that most of the best principles for personal finance can actually be found in the book of Proverbs in the Bible. One set of materials is required per family unit and it’s a lifetime membership. Once you buy the materials, you can attend the class as many times as you want in any location. This alone makes it a great value.
And here’s the answer to something we are often asked: We don’t make a DIME leading this class. We volunteer our time and expertise. People think we make money off this, we absolutely do not. If you want to engage us for in depth one-on-one coaching beyond the class, we’ll charge for that. But the money you pay for the materials for an FPU class goes to the Ramsey organization. We volunteer our time to do this.
You’ll meet once a week for somewhere between 90 minutes to two hours. (UPDATE: If your class is a FLEX class, that time each week is cut in half) During the opening of each class we talk about the homework of the previous week and celebrate any milestones reached. In many cases folks will have completed one or more “Baby Steps”, such as completing a beginner Emergency Fund or fully paying off a credit card. Let me tell you, we celebrate that stuff! It means you’re winning. In some classes (not every session) food will be provided in a “pot-luck” setting. If we’re meeting around dinner time, it’s a nice benefit and we encourage people to participate if they want to. But it’s not mandatory nor guaranteed for any class.
You then watch a video featuring Dave Ramsey or one of the other Ramsey personalities, speaking on that week’s topic for about 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t worry, it’s usually very funny and you’ll enjoy this part immensely. After that, you’ll divide up into your small group table of about 10-12 people including a table leader (Christie and myself, and other co-coordinators if the class is large enough). We don’t like to have more than 12 per table, because it allows for everyone an equal opportunity to talk. During this time, we discuss 3-5 questions related to the video you just watched. Everyone is encouraged to participate as much as they want to.
This small group discussion is what makes the class so valuable. Yes, you can take FPU as a home study course. But you miss out on a huge benefit of community and group accountability. We see it with every single class we lead. On the first night, half the people are sitting there tight-lipped with their arms crossed in a really defensive posture. By Week Four or so, they are leaning forward, engaged, and telling their table-mates “You won’t believe what happened to us this week!” At the beginning, no one wants to talk about their money problems. Once you realize we all have some money issues, it becomes normalized.
Some weeks there are case studies to work out with your group to give you some hands on experience with the topic. While the class covers all aspects of personal finance, what is stressed each week is the creating of and living on a personalized spending plan. This is not mundane at all, quite the contrary; many people for the first time ever feel like they are in control of their money and they know where it’s going each month.
It’s very rare for a class to last longer than two hours (or one hour with FLEX), but we will stay as long as necessary to allow for questions and discussion.
Have you been through FPU? What was your class like? Did you think it was worthwhile? Sound off in the comments below!