In the fall of 2014, Jeremy and I were looking over the different Community Groups that Crossroads Church hosts. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) caught our eyes. We had sort of followed a budget here and there in the past. While we had utilized some of the approaches to money management that Ramsey teaches, we had never learned his system or fully utilized it. We decided to enroll in the class and go for it.
I was nervous at first, not sure how I would feel about discussing my finances with a bunch of strangers. Our small group was awesome. We felt safe and comfortable from the beginning. The atmosphere was welcoming and the people were so engaging and encouraging.
Just like Ramsey mentions, it took Jeremy and me a little while to get the hang of things. We had to do some digging to find out exactly what we were paying for what and how to budget to save for larger expenses over time.
The envelope system was a little tricky at first too, but it wasn’t long before we absolutely loved it. Paying for certain expenses with cash helps us to be aware of exactly where our money is going and holds us accountable. When the money is gone from the envelope, we’re finished spending in that category that month. Period.
Following Ramsey’s plan for managing our finances in a Biblical manner has had a profound impact on how Jeremy and I view money individually and as a couple. While finances can be a strong point of tension in a relationship, and certainly have been in ours, FPU brought Jeremy and me closer together and unified our approach to managing our finances. We have much more fun with our money now, even though we are spending significantly less than we had been.
While we had not used a credit card for several months, we actually closed every one of our credit card accounts. We set aside our $1,000 starter emergency fund, paid off a few smaller debts, and paid down a substantial amount of the principal on a larger debt. It was scary and it was awesome. We’re currently on Baby Step 2, paying off our non-mortgage debt.
In December 2014, we hit a bit of a bump in our journey. We received a high consumption notice from the water company, which directed us to check for leaks. We found a leak in the main service line to our house. The repairs were estimated to be between $500-$1,000. Jeremy and I took a breath and figured ok, we have our $1,000 emergency fund for things like this. Then, just a few days later, Jeremy was headed out to get gas and came back inside, stating the low brake fluid light had come on and there was a puddle of brake fluid beneath his car. I thought, well, a majority of our emergency fund is going to go towards the water line repairs, but I do have a profit sharing bonus coming in from my company (which we had planned to use to pay down some principal on our debt that month). Estimate for car repairs ranged from $500-$1,200. Oh gosh. When all was said and done, we had a total of $1,265 in repairs ($765 water leak, $500 new brake system) two weeks before Christmas. We managed to pay for it with my profit sharing bonus and part of our emergency fund. We then used money we received as Christmas gifts to fully re-fund our starter emergency fund in that same month. It felt so awesome to know the entire time that we were going to be okay. We also ended up giving a year-end gift to our church. Through that experience we saw just how faithful God is.
If you are looking to learn some excellent strategies for managing your money, I highly recommend Financial Peace University. Classes are offered all over the place, and can be found here. There is also the option of online or home study. I prefer in-person classes. Jeremy and I feel we really benefited from the community atmosphere at Crossroads.
Wherever you are in your financial journey, I pray that God may guide you and bless you abundantly with His grace and His peace.