Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Dave Ramsey solutions. This is also not a marketing scheme but a biblical way to handle your finances!
When Garrett and I first got married in January 2015 our lives changed. Our lives changed in the best way ever. We were married, everything was bright and nothing could bring us down. Nothing except the $45,000 in debt I brought into our marriage. Little did we know, eight months later in October our lives would change again.
Around September, the associate pastor of our church asked Garrett and I to take part in Financial Peace University.Financial Peace University, also known as FPU, is an 8-week course to help you take control of your money. Before we started FPU, we thought we were doing a pretty good job at handling our finances. Our class started in October and we quickly realized we actually didn’t have a good handle on our money and needed to make some serious changes.
Dave Ramsey, the creator of FPU, lays out the foundation for taking control of your money with seven baby steps. These steps are designed to help you get out of debt, build up savings, and start giving. The first baby step, to get $1,000 in an emergency fund as fast as possible, did not take us long. Baby step two is to pay off all debt but the house. Remember when I told you I brought $45,000 of debt into our marriage? (This debt was made up of a car loan, one credit card, a few medical bills, and two student loans.) A little over a year later and we are still on baby step two but, we have paid off over $30,000 of that debt! Here is how we did it:
Through FPU, Dave taught us how to set up a budget and manage it. What is different about this budget is that it is zero-based. A zero-based budget is your income minus your expenses to equal zero, sounds easy right? If you have written out all of your expenses and still have some money left over, put it towards debt! If you are out of debt you can put it on whatever budget item you want because you are in control of YOUR money.
Financial Peace University encourages the use of a cash envelope system. The cash envelope system works by using cash for different categories of your budget. We use cash for groceries, gas, toiletries, restaurants, and spending money. Using cash helps you feel what you spend. Switching to cash was difficult for me. It was so easy to swipe (or insert, I am still not sure) a card without feeling a thing. Handing someone a twenty dollar bill felt different, almost harder than swiping a card. Since I started using cash, I now think twice about getting that $5.oo cup of coffee every other morning!
The FPU kit comes with paper envelopes, but they can be difficult to keep up with. I found this amazing cash system wallet by Bella Taylor that will make it super easy to keep cash all in one place. Plus, they are adorable! The cash envelope system has worked for us. Making a budget, sticking to it, and using cash will change your life. Dave says, “When you have a game plan, you can develop a sense of hope. When you have hope, you can win at anything.”
Accountability and communication have helped us immensely throughout this process. Making a budget requires communicating with your spouse. Sticking to a budget requires both accountability and communication. Garrett and I hold each other accountable for our spending, and we work together. For example, when I want to go to Chick-fil-A for breakfast on Saturday morning but we are out of restaurant money for the week, Garrett kindly says no. Sometimes no is hard to hear, but we have come so far by holding each other accountable and working as a team!
Don’t let credit cards or car loans own you. Take control! Get back what is yours. I always thought we would live paycheck to paycheck. I honestly thought that is how most people lived. After taking FPU, I learned that 78% of people live paycheck to paycheck. Friends, there is hope. You do not have to be in debt forever and barely scraping by. Wherever you are, however much you make, you can do this! Our lives have been changed and so can yours. We could not have possibly done this on our own, and we give all the praise and glory to God.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! -Psalm 115:1
If you want to know more about Financial Peace University or have any questions, please comment or send me a message through the contact page. I would love to talk with you about finances or anything!