This is a more personal post than most. Other than my job as a police officer allowing me an income, this is not a LEO-specific post…but I’m hoping you’ll find some hope and inspiration in what follows.
Please to enjoy.
28 months ago to the day, the Wife and I began a journey that would forever change our lives. We started Dave Ramsey’s program, Financial Peace University, FPU for short. In a nutshell and as Dave likes to say, it’s God’s and Gramma’s way of handling money. The core of FPU can be summed up in the Seven Baby Steps:
1. Baby Emergency Fund ($1000 in the bank)
2. Debt Snowball (Pay off debts, excluding the house)
3. Fully Funded Emergency Fund (3-6 months of expenses saved)
4. 15% of income into retirement
5. Kid’s college
6. Pay of house early
7. Build wealth and give it away
Before I go any further, let me tell you a very simple truth: there is no magic recipe/pill/solution to doing these things. It is Very Hard Work. You will not get out of debt or get rich quickly. Get-Rich-Quick schemes are a fantasy (or probably involve crime of some kind…hey, I had to throw in some LEO stuff!). One doesn’t get into debt quickly; conversely, one won’t walk out of it quickly, either.
The Wife and I are about to wrap up our third experience of facilitating FPU at our church. Being able to walk with people through some incredibly difficult and scary times is a blessing like no other. To give you an idea of what FPU can do when you are focused and intentional with your money I offer the following results:
Our first two classes were made up of six families each (including my own) for a total of 12 families. FPU lasts for 13 weeks. In that 13 week period, 12 families (both classes total) paid off a total of just over $150,000. In 13 weeks. It is amazing what you can do when you have discipline and are sick of living paycheck to paycheck. At the beginning of our current class (today is our 12th meeting), we had 12 families total and a cumulative debt (not including homes) of $635,000.
Look at that figure: $635,000. That’s 12 families. Two of them had no debt at all. That means only 10 had that much. Our share was $5,500. Nine families owed $629,500.
Know what though? They are on fire to climb out of the hole they dug for themselves. It is incredibly inspiring. Facilitating FPU has kept the Wife and I motivated, accountable, and intense.
We just sent our last payment to Sallie Mae in the amount of $2,119.29. We paid off $77,232.88 in two days shy of 28 months. We are a single income family. I am (obviously) a police officer. I’m not an engineer or a doctor. During the 28 months, we had two more kids. How did we do it?
The two simple answers are 1) Budgeting and 2) the Wife and I being on the same page. The number one cause of divorce in this country isn’t infidelity, it’s money fights/money problems. When the Wife and I had our premarital counseling, we scored 100% on everything (Religion, Kids, Communication, etc) except money. We were diametrically opposed, but we forged ahead. We’ve always had a great marriage, but it wasn’t until we started FPU that things came together in a way we never dreamed.
The funny thing about getting your financial ducks in a row is it really becomes easier to get other things in one’s life together. We found a home church (where we now lead FPU) and our marriage is stronger than I ever could have imagined. Our kids will never know debt. They will never owe a dime to anyone. They will know hard work pays off. We are going to teach them things we either never learned or steadfastly ignored. They are not going to be “normal”. “Normal” is broke.
We are forever changing the way our family will handle money.
We are not special. We didn’t receive any inheritance or win the lottery (don’t get me started on the travesty that is the lottery). We worked our asses off, stayed committed and dedicated, and pushed through to debt freedom. The thing is, we’re not done. Baby Step 3 will be complete by March. We will always budget and live by it. We will never borrow money again. We live on cash alone. We’ve closed all our credit cards. We will no longer be, as Proverbs says, “slaves to the lender”.
The freedom I feel is incredible. The joy I feel in answering MClet the First with “Nope” when she asks if I’m working OT is indescribable. I get three days weekends. Consistently. That is something I haven’t had in over five years. I’m tired. But, I’m beyond satisfied.
Are you struggling with money? Do you have too much month at the end of the money? FPU can help you. There is no time like the present. You are not too old. You are not too far in debt. There is no circumstance that this program can’t walk you through. This is for the married, the single, the divorced, the young, the old, the self-employed, the unemployed. It will give you hope where there was none. It will give you strength when you are at your weakest. It will give you courage when you are immobilized by terror.
It works for us and we are on our way to winning with money and being able to provide for our family, our church, our community, and beyond.
I am so very proud of the Wife and I for getting to the point at which we find ourselves. And so, it is with great pleasure, that the Wife and I yell through the vacuum of the interwebs:
WE. ARE. DEBT. FREE!!!!
If you have any questions about our journey or how to get more info about FPU and/or Dave Ramsey, don’t hesitate to send me an email or leave a comment!