This morning, I graduated from Dave Ramsey’s new and improved, 9 week Financial Peace University class. As a long time Dave Ramsey follower and listener of his top radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show, I knew most of what was taught in this class. But, I figured I would, back when I purchased the class for me and my girlfriend this past summer. I had found a deal on it and I wanted to share my viewpoint and financial foundation with her so she knew where I was coming from. I think that goal was achieved and she looks at me less weird now.
So, after all said and done, I decided to review the course. Here are my top takeaways from taking the new Financial Peace University class this fall:
1. Financial Peace University is a Fundamentals Class
Financial Peace University is a pretty basic class. In my opinion, it’s geared toward the masses, or people who:
- are married
- have kids
- earn an income (whether small, average or large
- own a home with a mortgage
- have consumer debt (whether a small or large amount
- are Christian (he centers his teachings on the bible)
- are fairly new at paying attention to your money
The above group of people is a pretty substantial percentage of people out there. If you are anywhere close to it, you will get a lot out of this class. Dave focuses a lot on the “why” of personal finance. Unlike other personal finance gurus out there, Dave doesn’t teach you to pay attention to the math as much as to your behavior. He shows you why he feels debt is dumb and why you should avoid debt at all costs. He also gives you a step by step plan, called The Baby Steps, to show you exactly what steps to take. Here are his 7 Baby Steps:
- Save $1,000 as your starter emergency fund
- Pay off your debt using the debt snowball (listing your debts smallest to largest and paying them off small to large, rolling over each payment once it’s paid off to the next debt)
- Raise your emergency fund to 3-6 months of living expenses
- Put away 15% of your income each month for retirement
- Fund your kid’s college
- Pay off your home early
- Build wealth and give like no one else
You can see what I mean by it’s geared toward those with kids (baby step 5) and those who own a home with a mortgage (baby step 6). All in all, I believe this class is a fundamentals class, which is consistent with Dave’s best selling book, The Total Money Makeover, and his radio show, The Dave Ramsey Show. By the way, when I say fundamentals, I don’t mean that it’s common sense, because it’s not. Most of us do not think this way about personal finance naturally. Learning to think Dave’s way, to hate debt, to live below your means and to think about the “why” of personal finance, doesn’t come natural. I mean that if you’re out of debt, living far below your means and are building wealth like crazy for reasons like early retirement, giving and doing something incredibly meaningful with your life, then you can probably move past this class to more focused, advanced stuff.
2. Financial Peace University Reiterates the Same Material as Dave’s Show
For those of you like me, who have been listening to The Dave Ramsey Show for a while, and I know he has a huge following, you probably already know most of this. Here are the topics of the class, according to the new 9 week format (as opposed to the old, 13 week format):
- Super Saving (why save money)
- Relating with Money (relationships and money)
- Cash Flow Planning (budgeting)
- Dumping Debt (crushing the debt myths)
- Buyer Beware (advertising and its affect on us)
- The Roles of Insurance (including life insurance, disability, long term care)
- Retirement and College Planning
- Real Estate and Mortgages
- The Great Misunderstanding (giving)
If you’re a regular Dave Ramsey show listener, you’ve heard most of this. You know why you should be saving. You know how money affects relationships, that you never borrow money to people and that money problems are the #1 cause of divorce in America. You know that you need a budget, on paper and on purpose, every single month, before the month begins. You know that debt is dumb and that you need to get rid of it AS FAST AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE! You know that advertising is dangerous to us and that marketers are insanely good at their jobs. You know that you need life insurance and the details on term vs. whole. You know the options for retirement and college saving. You also know to be careful on your mortgage and to pay the dang thing off as quickly as possible. Lastly, you are motivated by giving and it’s a big reason for why you’re doing all of this. If you know Dave Ramsey’s teachings, you know the material this class teaches.
Even if you know Dave’s material, I’d still recommend going through the class because with this class, you have community. You can also do what I’ll be mentioning in takeaway #5 below.
3. Financial Peace University is Not Advanced Stuff
Like I said in point 1, this isn’t advanced stuff. If you know Dave’s stuff (aka the fundamentals of good personal finance) and are looking to move past it and into more detailed stuff, I’d recommend investing your time and money into more advanced, specific material. For me, as someone who knows and understands the fundamentals and am ready for more advanced stuff, my next steps are:
- To learn about long term investing – I’m liking what I’ve read at jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com and other places (e.g. the book, A Random Walk Down Wall Street) on the arguments of investing in index funds.
- To keep saving – I’m trying to increase my income on the side and also am continually working to keep my expenses down as low as possible.
- Read niche blogs aimed at saving as much as possible, making side income through an online/small business and working to retire early (achieve financial independence early). Blogs I’ve been getting into include: Mr. Money Mustache, Brave New Life, jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com, Mad Fientist, Free in Ten Years and Lacking Ambition.
4. Financial Peace University is Worth the Money
The regular price of Financial Peace University is right around that $100 mark or a little above. It is possible to get a deal if you sign up for Dave’s newsletter and wait patiently for it to go on sale (by the way, Dave has some pretty awesome Christmas giveaways going on right now that I’d recommend registering for on his site.) In addition to being able to attend this class for 9 weeks, you also get a copy of his book, Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money, a workbook, a starter envelope system (similar to this Deluxe Executive Envelope System that I started using this month) and some other resources as well. All in all, the materials in the membership kit alone pay for the $100 cost. If you take into account the impact the class can have on you or the person you’re going to the class with, it’s an incredible value. Just think about how much college classes cost. Ouch… The value of those should be taken into question, not this class.
5. Financial Peace University Makes a Great Gift for Others
My last and possible most important takeaway from the Financial Peace University class is that it makes a great gift for others. I bought it mainly to bring my girlfriend through it (oh no, my secret agenda finally came out). It was a way to help her learn what I’ve learned. Whether or not she agrees with the fundamentals (as I call them) that I believe in, it was worth having her learn them. Bringing this back to the topic of today’s final FPU class, giving, this is a great opportunity to give someone you care about the gift of personal finance knowledge and training. Not everyone will agree with Dave’s teachings, but either way, I believe it’s a good gift for people to learn his side of the personal finance argument.
I’d like to propose a gift idea for this Christmas. If you have loved ones who are struggling financially, in other words, they don’t understand the basics, consider giving them the gift of this class. It’s quite possibly within your giving budget at around $100. It is a gift that can help them in the long term versus helping support their “stuff-itous” disease. And lastly, I’m not getting paid to promote this, I just think it is gift-worthy this year. And what a coincidence that tomorrow is Cyber Monday. I wonder if Dave will have a sale on Financial Peace University. If you are at all interested in taking this class and/or giving it to someone you know, you may want to go to his site ASAP and sign up for his newsletter.
I hope you found this review helpful. If you have taken FPU before, please leave your experience in the comments below.