Financial Peace University Review
After following the Dave Ramsey baby steps for nearly seven years, my wife and I decided to take the Financial Peace University (FPU) course through our church last year. We went on to co-lead our own Financial Peace University class in the fall of 2018. There are many Financial Peace University reviews out there, yet we hope that you find benefit in our story.
In 2011, we were introduced to the concept of becoming debt free through Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover. Even though we were already on a debt pay-down journey for years, it was refreshing to go back to the basics in Financial Peace University to see first hand how other people reacted to Dave’s philosophy.
Dave Ramsey has been more successful than just about anyone at encouraging a diverse audience to eliminate debt and live a more purposeful life. There have been many conversations in the personal finance community about how to better reach the low-to-moderate income population. My suggestion is usually to start with Financial Peace University as the class starts with the personal finance basics. Dave is effective in rolling out basic personal finance principles such as budgeting in an inspiring way.
What are the Steps to Dave Ramsey?
Dave uses a seven step approach to eliminate debt known as the baby steps. Once you become debt free (baby step 2) and save up a three-to-six month emergency fund (baby step 3), people can usually start moving to more advanced personal finance guidance. For example, in baby step 6 the goal is to pay off the mortgage. Even though we decided to pay off our mortgage, the same may not be best for others depending on an individual’s unique set of circumstances (my opinion, not Dave’s). An earlier blog post of mine went into more detail on the baby steps featured in Financial Peace University.
The Baby Steps
1) Save $1,000 In An Emergency Fund
2) Pay Off All Debt With The Debt Snowball
3) 3 to 6 Months Expenses in Savings
4) Invest 15% Of Income Into Roth IRAs and Pre-Tax Retirement Plans
5) Put Money In Savings for College Education
6) Pay Off Your Home Early
7) Build Wealth and Give
What is Financial Peace University?
Financial Peace University is an interactive 9 week course facilitated primarily by weekly videos featuring Dave Ramsey. The course materials went through a significant upgrade in 2019. While you can purchase the course material and take it on your own, I’d highly recommend seeking out a small group to go through the course together. The real magic of the course comes through the small group discussions which also creates accountability. It’s similar to the Weight Watchers approach that creates a small community of individuals who hold each other accountable. After all, personal finance and diet have similarities. The overall concepts are simple but the actual doing is hard.
The Financial Peace University course is based on biblical principles. Many people may not know that money is one of the most referenced topics in the Bible, and is mentioned more that 800 times. If you aren’t a Christian I wouldn’t let this deter you from taking the class. The biblical teachings are primarily referenced in the background in ways that would be non-threatening to non-Christians. We had a family in our class who was not religious and they were two of the most engaged individuals in the class.
What Does Financial Peace University Cost?
There is often debate around the price of Financial Peace University. Even the pastor at our church made a snippy comment that we could all have financial peace if we sold thousands of courses for $100 a piece.
Our cost to purchase the materials for Financial Peace University was $100 through our church. The normal online price if you purchase on its own is $129.00.
I personally do not have an issue with the price. While $100 is a lot of money, the investment encourages commitment to the course. I’ve heard many Financial Peace University leaders comment that the first people to drop out are usually the ones where someone else purchased their course materials.
How Long is the Financial Peace University Course?
Financial Peace University is a nine week course led primarily through videos featuring Dave Ramsey and other speakers at his company. Below are the topics covered in Financial Peace University.
Super Saving – Lesson 1
Reveals the reasons why you should save money, how to prepare for emergencies, and how to build genuine wealth. This lesson is designed to get you excited about saving!
Relating with Money – Lesson 2
Shows couples how to work together as a team, gives singles some practical tips for financial accountability, and helps parents teach their children about money starting at a young age. This lesson teaches us that money is rarely just about money!
Cash Flow Planning – Lesson 3
You’ll learn how to make your money work for you and how to put together a household budget that really works. This lesson demonstrates if you don’t tell your money where to go and what to do, it will master you the rest of your life.
Dumping Debt – Lesson 4
Debunks the leading myths about debt that have become ingrained in our natural way of thinking. This lesson walks you right out of debt with a simple, clear, and effective debt snowball technique.
Buyer Beware – Lesson 5
Draws on Dave and his team’s years of selling and marketing experience to show you exactly how all of these businesses get their message deep into your subconscious. This lesson will show you how to finally gain power over your purchases and get the best deal when you’re ready to buy.
The Role of Insurance – Lesson 6
Walks you through seven types of insurance that every adult needs and reveals how to avoid traps in the insurance industry that can leave you flat broke. This lesson will teach you about life insurance, health insurance, and other specialty plans.
Retirement and College Planning – Lesson 7
Helps you understand all those initials and abbreviations: IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 529 and more! This lesson shows you the best way to make sure your kids get through college without a student loan!
Real Estate and Mortgages – Lesson 8
Shares the most effective tips for buying and selling your home. This lesson breaks down the different mortgage options to reveal the best (and worst) ways to buy a house.
The Great Misunderstanding – Lesson 9
Discusses the commonly held misperceptions many people have about giving and reveals the true key to winning with both your life and your money. This lesson shows why it’s so important to take control of your money.
For additional information on Financial Peace University, you may visit the Financial Peace University site using this non-affiliate link. Please note this article is not in any way sponsored or affiliated with Dave Ramsey.
Who Participated in Our Financial Peace University Class?
I don’t want to give away much information about other families in the class. However, I think it’s appropriate to reference the success of our group in aggregate terms.
There were eight to ten families who originally joined the class. By the final week there were six families still attending regularly. During the first few weeks, many individuals were asking challenging questions and really pushing back on the concepts. You could tell that for some individuals even saving the $1,000 emergency fund (baby step 1) was an insurmountable task.
By the final week, the five families (not including us) had either increased savings or paid down debt by a combined amount of $21,000! That is more than $4,000 per family in just over two months. Dave is an exceptional motivator. You could tell the people who stuck around to the final week were onboard with his approach.
My wife and I stayed relatively quiet during the classes. We were mostly there to listen and observe and didn’t want to step on the toes of the facilitators. Revealing that we were debt free besides the mortgage may have led people to wonder if we were only taking the class to brag or show off our success. We didn’t reveal to the class that we were in baby step 6 until the final week. It’s not that we were trying to hide the success we’ve had over the years, but we missed a few weeks early on and there really wasn’t a good time to bring it up without going out of our way.
What Did We Learn?
As someone who is a regular consumer of personal finance related information, I wasn’t expecting to learn much. However, there were a few videos where I had several takeaways. For example, there were eye opening moments during the “Role of Insurance” lesson. We have life insurance through my work, but probably need additional term life insurance through a different provider. We also plan to shop our insurance rates and explore getting an umbrella policy since our net worth has increased during the past several years.
Whether you are a personal finance nerd like me or brand new to the concepts, this class has something for all. What I found was concepts that are common knowledge to me such as budgeting, eliminating debt, and building emergency savings were completely new to others. What Dave does so well is explains the “why” behind reducing debt and increasing savings.
Financial Peace University Review
I believe just about anyone could benefit from joining a Financial Peace University small group. Even individuals who are savvy with personal finance would benefit from the group aspect. I learned a lot about the challenges other people face to get out of debt. Even saving that first $1,000 can be a huge task depending on a person’s situation.
Even though we didn’t completely follow Dave’s guidance on our debt pay-down journey, after going through the class I have a better appreciation for his approach. Take credit cards for example. It’s easy for someone who is already financially responsible to leverage the benefits of credit card reward points. With that said, someone who lacks financial discipline could find themselves back in debt with extremely high interest rates using credit cards.
Reading The Total Money Makeover back in 2011 was one of the best things to ever happen to our family. Digging our way out of debt has helped us set a strong financial foundation. As someone in our group put it during the final week, “This is life changing stuff and it needs to be shared more broadly.”