Sometime before the end of 2013, my parents approached me about this class on finances. My dad was really pushing for me to take it with them and sounded quite optimistic about the whole thing. After some initial conversation, my dad says, “Ya, it’s this guy Dave Ramsey.” I smiled. I first discovered Dave Ramsey through a friend and fellow photographer, Nancy Ray, who with her husband experienced great success thanks to help from Dave Ramsey and following his seven baby steps outlined in his Financial Peace University (FPU) classes. Through Nancy and several other individuals I came to know about Dave Ramsey. Little did I know this guy has been around for twenty plus years and has seriously made a name for himself as he has helped thousands and thousands of people climb out of debt and win with money over the years.
My dad was pretty blown away that I had even heard of Dave Ramsey. I’m jumping ahead here but I think between my dad, my mom and myself, after completing FPU we all feel a little bit like we’re late to the party. That being said, I’m just glad I found this class at the age of 27 when I can really buckle down and set myself up for financial success. Better late than never as they say, right? Growing up, my mom really handled the finances in our home while my dad was working his tail end off at work. My dad is now semi retired and did you know semi retirement for a physician is 40 hours a week? 40 HOURS A WEEK? That sheds light on my dad’s work hours while I was growing up. To this day he is the hardest worker that I know. My mom, I should add, did a remarkable job handling our finances growing up and in a lot of ways did many of the things Dave Ramsey teaches you to do in FPU. In my Dad’s semi retirement, I think he began to realize how little he knew about how finances were being run in their household and really wanted to change that. My dad wanted to step in, see behind the scenes and start to have a say in their finances.
I agreed to take the class with my parents and was really blown away by my experience. FPU was a nine week course that we took at St. Matthew’s Church at 56th and Binford here in Indianapolis. Our class was very small, about eight or nine people each week including myself and my parents, and we met every Wednesday evening. My positive relationship with money going into this class was, well, lacking. I didn’t hate money but I also didn’t see how I could really use it as a positive force in my life. I’ve always seen money as a necessary evil and my mom growing up was intent (and extremely successful I should add) on scaring us away from acquiring debt. We were taught that it has its place but by all means to avoid debt if possible. As an entrepreneur, when I started my business at 20, I bought into this notion that I had to acquire debt to build a successful business. I now know this to be untrue but I’m grateful I had the fear of God instilled in me to acquire debt from the get go. I never accrued much and to this day have a nominal amount of debt but what I’ve found over the years is that I haven’t cared to do anything about it. It’s just been there every month, another payment I’ve had to make thinking, “This is normal.” FPU teaches that debt doesn’t need to be nor should it be the status quo.
I was immediately struck by the awesome classmates we had, all of whom came from diverse backgrounds. We live in an age were people are so hush hush about their finances and money. No one wants to talk about their challenges or even successes with money. Man, the energy there was in that room each Wednesday between just eight or nine people who wanted to start making better decisions with their money? That’s powerful stuff right there. Fires me up just thinking it. I was so inspired to know I wasn’t alone in this walk. Between all of the social media platforms and the digital world we live in, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone and that others have it way better than you do.
The biggest challenge I face as a business owner as far as money is concerned is that I don’t have a fixed income. Dave preaches on the importance of following a written budget each month and coming from someone who doesn’t always know how much money I will bring in from month to month, this concept was very scary for me. Some months are way better than others so what should I do in the slower months? One thing I learned in this course is the utmost important of diligence in taking control of your money and finances. Working on getting your finances in order is just that – WORK. You’ve got to make sacrifices and a lot of changes, it doesn’t happen overnight and more than anything it takes time. It’s takes “death by 1,000 cuts.” Work at it every day and over time your hard work will produce a harvest. My walk with this will likely look different than most but for me right now it’s all about what changes can I start making to save money? For example, I want to cut off my basic cable ($25 a month) and buy an antenna to pick up the ONLY channel I really watch anyway on TV anymore, NBC. This would save me $200+ over the course of the year. This alone has me excited about other areas I can save. Can you imagine how much money we could all save if we just cared enough to save it? Wow.
My biggest takeaway from FPU? I want to give my money to God.
I’ve never thought of my relationship with money as a spiritual walk until I took this class. Now that I’ve dipped my toes in the water? Well, I just want to dive all in. Here’s why.
FPU teaches you that money is amoral – it is unconcerned with what is right or wrong. Money is an object in my life that I’ve always believed I had to endure. Endure implies a sense of drudgery, right? I’ve had to drudge through the numbers week after week, month after month.
Do you know how much scripture there is that speaks of being a good steward of your money? A LOT, apparently. I’m religious and my relationship with God means a lot to me but I don’t read the bible and I maybe know one verse by heart. What I’m driving at here is I never knew God wanted me to have this relationship with money to begin with. Almost every week, in each lesson, DR would share a verse from the bible that dealt with his particular topic at hand and my eyes were really opened to how God will bless my life when I handle my (His) money well.
And so, I want to view money not as my own with a tightly clenched fist when it’s in my possession, but instead as way to help bless and sustain others when my palm is open.
Just to be AWARE of money in the light that I am after taking this class is huge. I’m thinking more about where I’m spending money and creative ways to pay off my debt. I’ve got plans to pay it off by the end of the year. Stay tuned for that. The difference between pre FPU Caitlin and now is that now I’m hungry to get it paid off and “clean up my side of the street” as Jillian Michaels would say. I’m excited to set myself up for success both now and in the future.
If you haven’t already, check out Dave Ramey‘s radio show. It’s on Monday-Friday 12-3 on 950 AM. He does “Debt Free Screams” every day with people who have paid of enormous amounts of debt in usually a small amount of time relatively speaking. Talk about inspiring! That will shed perspective on your life.