Over one hundred people graduated Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) last night. This was the first time FPU was offered at our church. Most FPU classes offered at churches have 20 – 50 attendees on average, so our co-ordinator Brett Gibson was both pleased and shocked to find out that 140 people signed up to attend this “personal finance” series.
I was invited to be one of the seven group leaders and happily accepted. Twenty-two of the attendees were in my small group and consisted of married couples, single moms, widows, even retirees. Interestingly, most of my students did not attend our church and half of them did not live within 20 miles.
Who were these people? One couple received the class as a gift from a friend. Another couple was already familiar with the program but realized that taking the class would help them re-focus. A retiree attended class in order to have a clearer understanding about investing and share the information with her children. And most came looking for help and a desire to figure out how to get out of debt.
Week after week we would hear stories of students taking the information they learned and applying it to their lives. One man started asking for, and receiving many, discounts wherever he ate or shopped. Another found a $12,000 loan on his credit report that was not his. The bank reversed a charge on a debit card when the person reported it to be fraudulent, yes – just like a credit card! One couple in my class shared how they put $1,000.00 into savings and paid off over $4,000.00 in debt – a $5,000.00 change in position in three months! The total debt level of all students at the beginning and end of the class (all debt except for a 1st mortgage) showed the same results – the average per-family debt level went from $33,000 down to $28,000 in 91 days with $1,000.00 in savings. Imagine what these households will feel like in another 6-9 months!
But the coolest thing of all happened after the final class. One single mom had been laid off a couple weeks after the series started. She had missed one class for a job interview, but always returned with a smile on her face. Another student who had been working hard on reducing debt by cutting cost and eating at home approached the single mom and handed her a small bundle of bills. How cool is that?
Now THAT is an FPU Graduating student!