Class offers financial peace

Published 10:19 pm Friday, April 30, 2010

Do you need to find some financial peace?

That’s what William McCallum, a member of First United Methodist Church in Clanton, hopes to offer beginning May 19, when he will lead a 13-week course of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at the church.

“This is the fourth time we have offered it, and the third time I have been coordinator,” McCallum said.

For those who take the course and put it to work, it can be life changing, he said.

“Dave Ramsey has developed a plan for saving money for emergencies, children’s college education and retirement and getting out of debt,” McCallum said.

“It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes work. But it works.”

He said Ramsey teaches seven “baby steps, because you must take baby steps before you make large leaps.”

Those steps include:

Saving $1,000 for an emergency fund.

Listing all of your debt, including credit cards, car loans, student loans — everything except what you owe on your home — and paying them off, beginning with the smallest debt.

Saving three to six months’ living expenses.

Investing 15 percent of your household income into Roth IRAs, pretax retirement plans or other qualified savings plans, like 401Ks.

Saving for college for children.

 Paying off your home early.

Building wealth and giving money.

“We’ve seen it work here in Clanton,” McCallum said. “I’ve had some people who have gone through the course come up to me and say, ‘Hey, we’re making Dave Ramsey work.’ ”

Colleen Kennedy, who with her husband Alex took the Dave Ramsey course at the First United Methodist Church in Clanton when it was offered previously, said it has changed their lives for the better.

“It was great. You don’t have to be a math genius. You don’t have to have a degree in finance to understand what Dave Ramsey is telling you. It’s a common sense approach,” Kennedy said.

She said she and her husband made new friends during the course because all who are in it are in the same situation.

“There’s no judgment. No one knows what anybody else owes. We’re all there on common ground,” she said.

Kennedy said the course taught her and her husband how to get control of their money.

“It helped my husband and I incredibly. Now we know exactly where our money is going. Before we took the course, at the end of the month my husband and I would look at each other and ask, ‘Where did it go?’ Now, we know where it’s going,” she said.

The course’s focus on savings teaches participants to live within a budget. Spending money should be painful, Kennedy said.

“We used credit cards like crazy. Now, we don’t use them at all,” she said. “Dave Ramsey refers to a study that shows that when we swipe a credit card, we register no pain. When we swipe a debit card, we register a little bit of pain, because we know the money is actually coming out of our checking account. But when we pay in cash, we register the most pain because we are actually handing someone our money.

“My husband and I recently had to put new tires on our car. We had to pull the money out of savings to pay for the tires and, I’ll tell you, that hurt. It physically hurt. I didn’t want to give anybody that money we had worked so hard to save, but we had to have the tires,” she said. “This teaches a very common sense approach to money. It’s not rocket science. There are no great formulas. It’s just very common sense.”

McCallum said a free orientation class will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. in the church’s Crossroads Café.

The first of the 13 weekly classes begins on Wednesday, May 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the church, which is located at 207 8th St. N. He said classes typically last until 8 to 8:30 p.m.

Total cost for participants of the course — whether an individual or a family — is $93, which includes all materials.

“The church makes nothing on this,” McCallum said. “The cost to participants is actually our cost.”

He said those who pay for the course become lifetime members of the Financial Peace University.

“That means if you don’t complete the course for some reason, you can sign up for another one at no cost. Once a couple goes through the course, if they have their workbook and they have a child who is a young adult living in their home, that young adult can take the course at no cost, as long as they use mom and dad’s workbook,” he said.