Sept 7, 2008
When I was in college I used to listen to a guy named Dave Ramsey on the radio as I commuted to and from class. I recall being always entertained by the indiscreetly blunt advice that rolled off his tongue. I remember one time a lady called in, clearly in denial about her financial state, inquiring about/attempting to justify a potentially detrimental financial decision. It may have had to do with taking out a second mortgage to pay off medical bills and credit cards or something to that affect. After learning that the household salary of this lady was $85K, Dave got on a rant about the fact that they make twice the median US family income and needed to curb their spending instead of sinking into further debt. After that call, I was hooked.
So, this marks the second season that I will be involved in teaching Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Lindsay and I got married with a small amount of debt, small household income(poverty level), and very little financial sense. It’s funny, I am the Accountant and yet Lindsay had more experience than me when it came to budgets. She gives the all the credit to her father and grandfather/former CFO of a public company. We both knew early on that we would have to be extremely frugal and diligent with our finances. Lindsay and I have been a great team when it comes to living within our means. I have received a ton of advice over the years and read several books regarding personal finance and one message remains consistent, “If you don’t tell your money where to go, it will find a place to go.” Stewart Welch’s, 10 Minute Guide to Personal Finance for Newlyweds, is a great resource and Dave Ramsey’s, Total Money Makeover is also great. Lindsay’s grandfather, Boyd Walton once told me, “you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been”.
All this to say, I am certain of the following:
1) We have to have visibility in our finances; our spouse is someone to whom we are accountable. Case in point: I have a friend who “handles” the finances in his marriage. He gambles on football without his wife having any idea of what’s happening. This is dangerous and deceitful. What’s tough is that his greatest Confidant doesn’t even know.
2) Budgets are essential to financial health and will not, I repeat, will not result in rashes, insanity or cold sweats. Our budget has been the main reason that Lindsay and I aren’t in financial distress. Some 97% of Americans don’t have a budget. This amazes me.
3) We all make mistakes. Lindsay and I have had our fair share. We’ve purchased the car on the 72 month plan, bought the TV on credit, financed dinner out. I’ve neglected to include Lindsay’s input in our budget, gambled with Christmas money and shuttered the window into our personal financial struggles. The truth is, we all need to realize our mistakes and, more importantly, need to be willing to change
What I really like about Dave’s curriculum is that it is practical and entertaining. The other great thing about this curriculum is that it is for everyone, not just the financially ill. Dave motivates! I recommend getting plugged into one of these groups, even if you have it all together.
If you or someone you know is interested in joining our fall small group contact Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line "financial peace". Any inquiries will be confidential.