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Posts tagged with: financial peace university

Starting the Debt-Reduction Mission

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Today I want to talk about a little of the back-story that lead to me really kicking into high gear on our family’s debt-reduction mission. Check out my story and be sure to leave yours in the comments! I’d love to hear more about what caused you and your family to decide that you really needed to kick some debt booty!

If you’ve read my debt story then you know that I haven’t always lived my life with debt. It wasn’t until I started graduate school that I took out my first student loan, then another, and another. Meanwhile, I also financed basic life essentials by paying with credit cards (and never paying them off). In the span of just two short years I amassed over $70,000 in debt.

It was an overwhelming amount of debt so I kind of distanced myself from it, psychologically-speaking. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make any real progress on it until I was done with grad school so I just pushed it out of my mind until that time.

I graduated with a Ph.D. in August 2013. I was lucky to land a position the same month, but at that point I still wasn’t gung-ho about debt reduction.

Really buckling down with debt-reduction had been in the back of my mind for awhile, but I hadn’t felt a great sense of urgency. I was making over minimum payments, but didn’t have a set plan in place (like my debt attack plan of action), and although we had a budget, the spending categories were all set much higher than currently (specifically, a lot more went toward groceries and eating out each month).

But the seeds had been sown.

By Fall 2013 I was really starting to feel more of a need to get our finances in order. I was working full-time (side note just to clarify the job situation…..I was hired at my old alma mater and worked a full-time/in-person position. But only a few months later in December 2013, the faculty member with whom I worked moved to a new university. I continued to work for the new university through distance, but switched from being a full-time employee to a part-time contract employee. This is the “University B” I’ve referenced many times). I started putting big chunks of my paycheck toward debt.

During this time, I started to immerse myself in stories of debt reduction. I’d been reading BAD casually for awhile, but I went back and re-read entire bloggers’ stories. I did the same thing with No More Harvard Debt, Man Versus Debt, and Fun Cheap or Free.

In February 2014 I was listening to my favorite morning talk show, The Bobby Bones Show (it’s a syndicated radio show in several markets across the U.S., so check it out, it’s really good!) and they had Dave Ramsey on. I’d heard the name Dave Ramsey before (Beks even wrote about attending Financial Peace University), but had never googled him, read his books, heard his show, etc. Bobby Bones had him on the show that day to give financial advice to one of the show’s producers, a mid-20s guy named Ray. Ray had just bet (and lost) his truck in a Super Bowl bet (True story. He got money at a cash-for-title place and bet it all on the Super Bowl. He lost the bet, his money, and his truck. You can see the segment here if you’re interested)

Anyway, this was kind of a turning point for me. Hearing Ramsey on Bobby Bones really made me curious about this money guy. I looked up his show and downloaded some (free) podcasts. Hearing the callers’ success stories and debt free screams was so incredibly motivating. I’d already been actively working on debt reduction, but this was the point at which I decided we needed to really be gazelle intense about it (a term Ramsey frequently uses).

This all set the stage perfectly for when Adam and Emily decided to step down as bloggers, and new bloggers were selected (in late March 2014 – you can see my first post as an official blogger here).

That brings me to the beginning of my journey here.

I’ve been lucky. I’d already committed to debt reduction previously, but hearing Ramsey for the first time, and then starting to blog here (and the accountability and encouragement that comes with it) has been a real kick in the pants! I have no doubts that I’d still be on this debt-reduction journey regardless (even if I hadn’t been selected as a blogger here), but I also have no doubt that progress would have been much slower. So I’m very grateful I’ve had your support and encouragement along the way. There’s still a long road ahead, but it actually feels doable now (something I couldn’t say only 2 years ago).

How did you get started on your debt reduction journey?


FPU Accountability…

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We had our Financial Peace University class on Sunday. I found it incredibly difficult to share the reason we were gone for last three sessions.

Admitting we had taken a family vacation to Europe is the equivalent of telling your Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor you spent the last two and a half weeks downing bottles of Jameson.

They weren’t exactly receptive to the idea.

We explained that this was likely the last and only time we would have the opportunity to go with our family and we funded the trip fully with cash.

But still, they weren’t happy about it.

I started to get annoyed and then realized, isn’t that the point of FPU accountability? Isn’t that the reason for the class?

No, I wouldn’t have changed my decision to go… but you can bet I won’t be strolling into class with a new sweater or a cup of Starbucks anytime soon.


Financial Peace University…

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My husband and I are attending Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey’s course) again. We attended the series two years ago but I missed nearly half when I lost my day job and started working nights.

The first class was this week and the facilitator asked if anyone was a returning student. My husband and I raised our hands along with one other couple. After the video, we gathered into a small group and were immediately asked if the course had changed our lives. My husband and I said it had and that we lived below our means.

‘Are you debt free?’ a classmate asked.

‘Um. No. We have about 10 grand left.’ I said, ashamed two years has passed and I’m still carrying financial baggage.

‘At least you are working on it. And you’re here!’ she said smiling.

The rest of the group talked about their struggles and goals for about 20 minutes and then we all headed home. It was nice to hear others are fighting the same things as me.

It’s funny that I can openly and fearlessly share every little detail about my debt with you but I’m completely ashamed to share it with the small group – then again, I don’t have to shake your hand every Sunday morning.

If you haven’t been through FPU, you should consider it. The lessons are great but more than that, you have someone to look you in the eye every week who asks… how did you do this week?

Suddenly, spending feels different.


Want to borrow my pen?

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I went shopping with a friend over the weekend – and by ‘shopping’ I mean she shopped, I watched.

As she went to purchase a stack of clothing, she pulled out her shiny credit card and tapped it on the counter excitedly while she talked about how cute the clothes were.

The cashier ran the card but couldn’t find a pen for the signature. My friend looked at me and asked, ‘Do you have a pen?’

I pulled out the only pen I had, my Financial Peace University pen from Dave Ramsey.

As she gleefully signed at the bottom, I couldn’t help but laugh as I imagined the Financial Peace pen bursting into flame the second it touched the credit card slip.

Surprisingly, it didn’t.

I miss spending like that. I miss buying what I wanted. But…

I don’t miss the credit card debt.