Nov 29

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University-Worth the Money?

So I’ve sort of been a financial nerd for most of my life. As a kid I saved my birthday money, as a teen I saved my babysitting money and as an adult I blog about personal finance. I geek out reading personal finance books, I subscribe to pf podcasts and I regularly read a ton of amazing and inspirational pf blogs.

So when our church advertised that Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) was going to be offered this fall, I thought to myself, “I like Dave Ramsey, I agree with a lot of the principles he teaches, but is there anything FPU can teach me that I don’t already know?”

I mean…I’m certainly no Suze Orman, but I know how to make a zero-based budget, I haven’t been in student loan debt for a number of years now, I pay off my credit cards in full each month and I’m saving for retirement, so what else is there to learn?

But, hubby agreed to take the class with me, so we signed up. And (spoiler alert) we liked it!

Here are some of the FAQs friends and family ask me about this “mystical” and “mysterious” “financial class”.
  • What are the FPU classes like? What do you do in class?

    The first class (and each subsequent class) we watched a DVD and then broke into small groups to discuss the content outlined in the lessons. It was interesting and a little odd to talk about money so freely. Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk about money, but I recognize that most people don’t. I mean, let’s be real. It’s really not, “normal” to get together in a social setting and talk about money, financial goals and financial woes. Nobody walks up to you at a cocktail party and asks you about your retirement plan or your life insurance policy.

  • How long are the classes? How many classes are there? Do you have to attend all of them?

    The classes are about 2 hours long and there are 9. You don’t have to attend all of them, but why wouldn’t you? I mean you paid for the class, go! Hubby and I missed one class because we had a dog emergency and had to take Boo to the vet. We watched that week’s lesson online. Keep in mind, there’s also an option to take the class completely online, but I really recommend going to a class in person, because the discussions after the lesson are REALLY valuable.

  • Is there homework? I don’t have time to do homework

    Yes there’s homework and it’s important. Each week read a chapter of the book that comes with your FPU kit and complete different activities related to that week’s lesson. One week you’ll be making a budget, another week you’ll make a debt snowball, and later in the class you’ll be examining at your insurance policies and figuring out how you can save money and obtain the right coverage. The homework IS the learning and it’s what you paid for and should be focusing on. If you just show up at class and don’t do the homework, you’re not going to benefit from the class or the lessons taught.

  • Isn’t the class religiously based? If I’m not religious (or not Christian) will I feel uncomfortable?

    The class is based on biblical principles, but it’s also based on common sense. If you’re offended by religion (or common sense) you might be offended. Otherwise just ignore the parts that don’t pertain to you and move-on. The class is much more about learning how to get out of debt, stay out of debt and build a solid financial future, than is is about proselytizing. Although Dave will try to “convert” you to be a credit card hater (which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion).

  • What if I’m not good with money, will I be judged? What if I’m single, will I feel weird going by myself?

    What struck me most about our group, was how honest and supportive everyone was (from day one). We barely knew each other, but everyone was willing to put themselves, “out there” and talk about their situations. And not in an uncomfortable “I’m Joe and I’m a credit card addict” sort of way. Some folks had a lot of debt, some had none and most were in-between. It was a nice mix of couples and singles from a bunch of different backgrounds (ages, races, socio-economic backgrounds etc.). If you’re a couple your significant other will be your, “accountability partner”, if you’re single, Dave tells you to find a trusted friend or mentor to keep you motivated.

Have other questions or comments about FPU? Leave them in the comments or reach out by email!

Closing thoughts. I was a little nervous and skeptical about taking the class. But in retrospect, FPU was well worth the money. In fact, the homework really helped Eric and I with our communication (about money and about life). Statistics show that many people divorce because of money fights and money problems, so I think of Financial Peace as an important investment (pun intended) in our relationship.

**Disclosure/Disclaimer, this is NOT a paid post and I’m NOT affiliated with Dave Ramsey or his products. I just really enjoyed the class and thought I’d share my experience, in case you’re having the same doubts/fears. All opinions are my own. The FPU kit links are affiliate links, thanks for clicking!


Aug 02

Olympic Gold Medal For Those Wanting Help Getting Out Of Debt

The Olympics is one of the most enduring expressions of human excellence. Millions of people around the world tune in to the games to be inspired by the skills and courage on display. Those who win medals are feted as modern day heroes. However, there are times when even the most celebrated athletes show a chink in their armor. This was exactly the case in Rio when Ryan Lochte got involved in a fiasco with Brazilian authorities. It resulted in an apology, a court case, and several lost endorsement deals. The past year has been tough but Lochte is making a comeback with the help of new friends like

The highly decorated swimmer has signed an endorsement deal with the debt solutions company and people are hailing it as a perfect match. After all, is all about giving people second chances at life. Things can be going well but all of it could come crashing down in a snap due to poor judgment. Others are trapped in situations beyond their control or forced to make difficult decisions. No matter what the cause of the personal downturn, there should always be space to crawl back up. is keen to give people a chance to redeem themselves with solutions that are tailored to each individual. The company has the combined expertise of seasoned industry professionals who have already helped countless clients with their financial concerns. These types of challenges can be quite hard to bounce back from if you are not fully aware of your options. It is not uncommon to feel that all hope is lost. Fortunately, there are actually lots of ways to navigate even the trickiest of situations and come out the other side better than ever. All you need is faith and an expert that can provide guidance.

Lochte is a prime example of a person who has gone through life’s ups and downs. He worked hard to reach the highest level in his sport and gained several gold medals in the process. Before the Rio incident occurred, he was flying high with a successful stint in the tournament and seemed to be destined for greater things ahead. All these came tumbling down because of a series of unfortunate events that he triggered himself. He already released an apology, though it would be understandable if the host country has lingering ill feelings for the swimmer. What’s important is for him to move forward while learning from the past.

This partnership is seen as a great step in this direction. hopes that it will encourage others who may have gone through a similar experience to fix their issues and take back control in their lives. It’s true that very few people can call themselves Olympians but everyone can do heroic things for themselves and the people they love outside of the sports arena. The company is extending an Olympic gold medal for those wanting help getting out of debt. It is not an easy process but the staff will be there every step of the way to lighten the burden.

Lochte is not the only one who will be benefiting from this arrangement. The world record holder has stated that part of his earnings from this endorsement deal will be funneled into a charitable organization. He has chosen Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy as his beneficiary. PPMD seeks to end Duchenne muscular dystrophy which is a fatal genetic disorder that makes young men lose their muscle strength over a prolonged period. There is a great need to invest in research for treatments. The organization has successfully lobbied for government funding but more is needed to fight this illness. Lochte’s support is highly appreciated.

The hope is that this endorsement will create enough buzz to get the word out to those who are in despair over their crippling debt. Whether they are dealing with bankruptcy, student loans, credit card bills, identity theft, collection harassment, or other issues, is here to extending a helping hand. Initial media exposure has already gotten excellent responses. This is an issue that the company and Ryan Lochte himself are passionate about. When life happens, it is reassuring that experts are on standby for support.

Image Credit

May 28

My parents want to help pay for my wedding. Should I let them?

wedding#firstworldproblems, right? First of all I should start by saying that Eric and I are thrilled to be engaged! After dating for 6 years, we know each other really well and feel that we’re ready to make this big and important commitment to each other, yay!

Shortly after we got engaged, my mom (and step-dad) and dad (and step-mom), both said they wanted to help pay for our wedding. My first gut reaction was, “No thanks, we’ve got this.” I have to admit I’m a little prideful and I don’t the idea of taking money from my parents, even if it’s for a wedding (yes I realize it’s traditional for the bride’s family to help pay for the wedding.)

Although we’re incredibly thankful and humbled that they’d even offer to help pay for the wedding, we’re not sure if that’s something we’re personally comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong, we’re so glad that they love us and support us and want to be involved in the, “big day” (and even want to help foot the bill!), but Eric and I are both, “adults” and have been living financially independent from our parents for a combined total of several decades.

While it would be nice to have some financial support from my family, we certainly don’t, “need it” nor do we want them to feel burdened by having to pay for our celebration. Really, we’d rather they spend their money on themselves and/or save that money for their retirement.

Just to be clear, I’m not judging people who accept financial help from their families, nor am I saying that parents shouldn’t help adult children pay for their weddings (if they want to). In fact, I think it’s amazing when parents want to help pay for the wedding…We just want having my parents’ financial support would, “look” and feel like.

Here are a few of the things we’ve been thinking about:
  1. If your parents pay for your wedding, how much input should you accept from them? i.e. Do they get to decide who to invite/not invite? Do they get to choose the venue and caterer? Does it depend on how much money they give you e.g. the more they pay the more input they’ve “bought?”
  2. If your parents don’t pay (but want to) will they feel slighted? Some families are more traditional about this than others. If the father of the bride is, “supposed” to pay for the wedding, but the bride doesn’t allow him, will his pride be hurt (like I said, I know all about pride-wink).
  3. If your parents are divorced and both sides want to help pay for the wedding, how do you decide who pays for what?
  4. What if your parents offer to pay for the wedding but you want something more expensive or extravagant then then had planned on paying for? What if they *your parents* want something much larger and more extravagant then you want?

I’ve had friends who have come across the same questions/issues/dilemmas and they’ve all told me that honest and open communication, not who pays for what, is usually what matters the most (and I’m sure they’re right, so I’m going to take their advice and talk to the family about what we want and how they can be involved and we can all feel good about it).

And if you’re curious, we haven’t chosen a wedding venue yet, but have decided that we will most likely be getting married in Maine next summer/fall (2016). Some of our top choices for venues have been nontraditional locations like a small library and my parent’s backyard. I love the idea of all the personal touches we could put on either location, and of course it helps that the cost of both would be really affordable. Free for my parent’s place and inexpensive for the library rental.

That said, we’d still have to hire a caterer and bring in all the tables etc. separately, which can really add up fast. So we’ll run some numbers and figure out which location makes the most cents (pun intended). Since we’ll be planning from many states away we’ll also be thinking about convenience. A wedding that costs a little more but has less moving pieces and less headache is definitely worth a little extra cost it in my opinion.

Did your parents help pay for your wedding? Did you want them to? If they did, did you have any problems/issues communicating about expectations?

May 16

You don’t think you need insurance until…

broken legThis post isn’t really a, “fun” one to write, but it’s one that comes from my heart. Thankfully not all of these situations happened to me, but they have happened to close friends and family and so they hit pretty, “close to home” for me. Unfortunately it sometimes takes a major life event, or a very difficult situation for us to come to our senses and get our lives in order.

Since Eric and I got engaged, I’ve been thinking a lot about our future and making sure that all of our, “business” is in order. We’ve been living together for a while now, but our finances are mostly separate. I pay my bills, he pays his bills and together we pay our house payment etc. (well technically he pays the bill, but I save my, “share” of the mortgage in a savings account for him).

Now that we’re on the verge of combining our lives financially, I’ve been thinking about worse case scenarios (romantic, right?) and trying to make sure that we’d both be OK if, god forbid, anything happened to either of us. Let’s face it, nobody wants to to think about worse case scenarios, but I’ve always been of the opinion that you should plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Here are some real life, “oh shit” moments where insurance was well worth (or would have been well worth) the premiums paid:

Your house catches on fire.
Two Christmases ago, Eric and I came home to a house filled with smoke. Our furnace had malfunctioned and caught on fire. Thankfully the fire smoldered in the furnace and didn’t spread to our walls (which could have burned our whole building down-scary!) and the damage was very minimal. We had to replace the furnace and our furniture smelled like a BBQ pit for a long time, but since we had homeowner’s insurance, we never had to worry that we wouldn’t have a place to live.

You get a UTI and your insurance just lapsed.
Ask my poor sister about this one! She had a horrible Urinary Tract Infection shortly after her university insurance plan lapsed and before her full-time job insurance policy became effective. She thought she could, “tough it out” and drink enough cranberry juice to make the infection go away. Sadly she couldn’t, and she ended up in the ER, not once, but twice! The first round of antibiotics the doctor gave her weren’t strong enough and she ended up in the ER a second time (feeling much worse!). Lesson learned here: never go without health insurance and if you can purchase an, “in-between” health insurance policy, do it! It’s pretty much Murphy’s law that the 1 week of time you’re not covered by health insurance, you’ll get hit by a bus.

You crack the diamond in your engagement ring.
When I first got engaged a friend and co-worker asked me if I’d insured my ring yet. I sort of chuckled because I thought she was joking (do people really insure their engagement rings? Yes they do!). That’s when she told that she was riding on the subway on the way to work one morning when she accidentally hit her ring against one of the handrails. She didn’t think anything of it until she looked down at her hand when she got to work and the vintage diamond in her engagement ring was cracked. Sadly it was a family heirloom passed down to her from her husband’s grandmother. Fortunately, her fiance had insured the ring and the replacement stone was covered in full by their insurance. She felt terrible that she damaged the stone, but relieved that they didn’t have to spend a fortune replacing the stone so his family wouldn’t notice (the stone is quite large and they wouldn’t have been able to replace it without the insurance).

Your significant other is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Sadly, we found out that my uncle had terminal cancer a few weeks before he passed. Nobody knew he was sick and certainly nobody thought he would pass so quickly and so young. He and his wife were quite frugal and didn’t want to, “waste” their money on life insurance. They figured they would never need the insurance and thought it was morbid to think about one of them dying. Of course they were correct that many people never have to use life insurance (thank god!). But if you happen to be the unfortunate person who does need the insurance money to survive, you’d certainly reconsider your decision to save money on life insurance, (by not paying for it!) Instead, you’d be thankful you paid for the coverage and don’t have to worry about replacing your spouse’s income while you’re still grieving.

Have you ever had a situation where you were thankful for having insurance? Ever had a situation where you wish you had insurance, but didn’t?

Image: Itzafineday

May 12

It’s official: My step-dad just retired

retirementThis weekend Eric and I traveled up to Maine to celebrate my step-dad’s retirement. My step-sisters and I had been planning a surprise retirement party for him for the last few months, so I was pretty excited for the, “big day” to finally arrive.

Each of the three of us (and our families) drove to Maine on Friday and surprised him one by one. He was upstairs playing with my niece when I arrived, so I snuck into the house, sat on the couch and waited for him to come downstairs. He didn’t even notice me at first (typical, when our household gets busy) then cried when he saw me. It was really sweet.

By the time my sister Leslee arrived, he was pretty much in shock. We told him we wanted to celebrate all of his hard work by being together for the weekend (He worked in the Department of Transportation for over 21 years and officially retired on April 30th).

Under the guise of a family dinner, we lured him to a local pizza place on Saturday night. He initially said he didn’t really feel like going because he wasn’t feeling that well, eek! Thankfully we convinced him to go for a quick slice…

When he got there with my sister and her kids, he looked around the room a little confused (he knew everyone in the room and thought we all just happened to be in the same place at the same time). When we yelled, “surprise” his mouth dropped open. Two surprises in one weekend, I love it!

Price of the gas to get to and from Maine, about $120. Price of the pizza party/decorations etc. about $100 each (split 3-ways). Being together with friends, family and my step-dad to celebrate his retirement… PRICELESS!

My step-dad didn’t go to college, so he’s literally been working since he turned 17. Not only is he a hard worker and and an inspiration as an employee and supervisor, he’s also an amazing dad. He’s successfully raised three girls who made it though high school, college and graduate school a a pretty big accomplishment in my opinion).

He’s made a lot of sacrifices, so that us girls had the things we needed growing up. We didn’t have a lot sometimes, but he always believed in us and told us we could be anything we wanted to be. He taught us to work hard, try your best and have a heart for serving others (values that have made us the women that we are today).

So kudos and congrats to my step-dad. I’m so proud of you and so thankful to have you in my life! You’re  an inspiration to all of us and real life, “proof” that hard work, dedication and generosity do pay off!

When do you plan to retire? What will you do during your retirement years? Who are your, “retirement inspirations?”