F.P.U.

You know, I’ve always thought Dave Ramsey had good things to say, and his company promoted good ideas and values…. But I never really dove into his stuff.

Until now!

Last Sunday was our first FPU class. For those of you who don’t know, FPU stands for Financial Peace University. I don’t know about you, but financial peace sure sounds good to me!

The website makes it easy to find a local class. They’re usually hosted by churches. The classes last for thirteen weeks, a couple hours each. For the first hour, you watch Dave’s presentation of the lesson on dvd. For the second, you meet in a small accountability group.

This last Sunday’s lesson covered the Seven Baby Steps (click here to see a list of all the FPU classes)

FPU Kit

  • Step 1:  $1,000 in an emergency fund ($500 if your income is under $20,000 per year)
  • Step 2:  Pay off all debt except the house utilizing the debt snowball
  • Step 3:  Three to six months expenses in savings
  • Step 4:  Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans
  • Step 5:  College funding
  • Step 6:  Pay off your home early
  • Step 7:  Build wealth and give!

My husband and I are both so excited to be heading down this path!

Some people have commented that we don’t need a class like that–we handle our money so well. Some people tell us we need to take it. We decided since we’re in a transitional stage of life, trying to figure out how to financially handle living in a new area, it was a good time to get some education.

Have you heard of FPU before? Why did you or did you not take it? If you did, how has it impacted your life?

Related Posts:

Money, Money, Money! by meMaigan

2012 Financial Goals April Update by Chickens, Cows & Children

God and Finances by On Planting Seeds…

The Joining of Your Money by Modern Wonder Woman

My Bucket List by LiteraryEllyMay’s Blog

Credit Card Addiction by Financially Literate

Here we go…. by Our Freedom Story

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This Is My Doing…

The February 1st entry in Streams in the Desert, L.B. Cowman, edited by Jim Reimann, really spoke to me. I thought I’d share part of it:

Life rushing by?

“Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make ends meet? ‘This is my doing,’ for I am the One who keeps your finances, and I want you to learn to depend upon Me. My supply is limitless and I ‘will meet all your needs’ (Phil. 4:19). I want you to prove My promises so no one may say, ‘You did not trust in the Lord your God’ (Deut. 1:32).

Are you experiencing a time of sorrow? ‘This is my doing.’ I am ‘a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering’ (Isa. 53:3). I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to Me you may receive ‘eternal encouragement and good hope’ (2 Thess. 2:16). Have you longed to do some great work for Me but instead have been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain? ‘This is my doing.’ You were so busy I could not get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of My deepest truths. ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’ In fact, some of My greatest workers are those physically unable to serve, but who have learned to wield the powerful weapon of prayer.

Today I place a cup of holy oil in your hands. Use it freely, My child. Anoint with it every new circumstance, every word that hurts you, every interruption that makes you impatient, and every weakness you have. The pain will leave as you learn to see Me in all things.”  Laura A. Barter Snow

In our most recent phase of life there have been many little, and some big, victories to celebrate. But right now I’m struggling with being overwhelmed by everything else. I have to remind myself to continue forward and focus on God; not all the negative possibilities.

What is something you do, or tell yourself, when struggling with being overwhelmed?

Creative Solutions for Christmas

This year my husband and I had to improvise a lot when it came to Christmas gifts… at least compared to what we normally do. As I mentioned in a couple previous posts, The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams and Financial Obstacles, we technically live on one paycheck. This is our first Christmas season as such. Hope you can garner some useful tips from below!

  • Meaningful but Inexpensive

There are several different routes you can go with this one:  ornaments, stocking stuffer novelties, individual handy tools, candy, etc. We bought for three people out of this category, totaling $27.00

  • Rewards Points

Some people claim you should steer clear of credit cards. But if you can trust your self-discipline, they can come in handy. We have two credit cards, use them only for what we have budgeted, and pay the balance down every month. Our rewards points can be used to purchase gift cards. So this year we purchased an Amazon gift card and bought a Christmas gift that way, spending $11.00

  • Homemade

There are many options with homemade:  baking, knitting, crochet, embroidery (our sister-in-law embroidered our initials on a couple kitchen towels!), scrapbooking, ornaments, painting, drawing, etc. I drew a simple cartoon-like picture for our niece. And my husband, who is a wonderful realistic artist, did graphite drawings of our niece for his mom, brother and sister-in-law, and grandparents. You can visit his website at goginstudio.com  We did have to buy mats for the pictures, but my husband had a gift card he received to cover those. Those were $6.00

  • Clearance

If you know where to look, or you wait until it’s close enough to the holidays, you can usually find some pretty good stuff on clearance. We bought for two people, totaling $10.00

  • Something from Home

I’m not usually a fan of gifting something we own. But this year we realized we had something, never been used, that a particular person would greatly appreciate! $0.00

  • Remember the Love

My husband and I did not get each other gifts this year. Not enough money. Sure, I was disappointed I couldn’t surprise him as a means to show him how much I love him. At the same time, we have each other and we love each other. That’s more than many can say. $0.00

  • Expect the Unexpected

No matter the consideration put into careful planning, there are always going to be unexpected expenses. We wanted to purchase a gift for a couple people with our Amazon card, enabling the gift to be nicer than what we could afford with our own money. Due to unexpected timeframes, we had to use our own money instead. Also, we didn’t have the wrapping needed for our artwork, so had to spend for that too. The present was $10.00, and the wrapping $4.00

  • Wrap it Up

Gift-wrapping seems to be an expense many people don’t take into consideration. It’s not an actual gift, right? But it’s still an expense. In the past I’ve used newspaper and paper bags when needing to improvise. We still have wrapping paper we got on super duper clearance after the holidays a couple years ago. And we reuse gift bags given to us. So other than the wrapping mentioned in ‘expect the unexpected’, we spent $0.00 on wrapping.

Picture I drew for my niece

The Pictures My Husband drew of our niece

Obviously, you have additional holiday expenses. For us, that would include groceries for contributing to a work party and holiday meals, and travel expenses. Fortunately, we received a Walmart gift card, a $50 check from a friend, and a $100 bonus, pre-Christmas.

The total we personally spent this Christmas was $51.00 (not including taxes)

Most people I know spend hundreds of dollars on Christmas—it’s the American way. So our total may seem a little extreme. But when finances are tight because we aren’t receiving either of my December paychecks this month, we have to make some sacrifices to cover needs like our house payment, gas bill, and groceries. Fortunately, our friends and family value each other (us included!) more than material gifts.

Are there any more ideas you can add to the Creative Solutions list?

Pinching Pennies: Windows, Garage Door, and the Library

Winter isn’t the easiest season for finances, for various reasons:  The weather, expectations at holidays, and finding ways to entertain ourselves indoors. Below are three ways we have handled financial friction…

  • Windows

This past June we moved into our first house–a foreclosure. Beautiful house, 111 years old, affordable…..tall windows. A little drafty. Ideally, one would purchase a more efficient furnace, invest in insulation, or look at replacing windows. We are currently in a position to do none of those. Instead, we bought insulated curtains that were on clearance, for our larger windows, and hung blankets or towels over the others. And more importantly, taped heavy plastic around the windows. Hopefully that keeps the gas bill low enough!

  • Garage Door

After the cold weather started hitting, our garage door started complaining. Several mornings I had to hit the button multiple times before it was up enough for me to get our car out of the garage. Finally one morning, it jammed with the motor going and going and going. My husband came out and detached the motor. We could hired someone to come out and fix it for us. Instead, we are opening and closing our garage door the old fashioned way–using our hands.

  • The Library

In the past it’s always been easy to rationalize renting movies, going to the theater, or buying books. Individually those privileges don’t cost a lot. But when you’re on as tight a budget as we are, it adds up. Alternate solution:  the library card!

It’s always good when there are alternate solutions! This year for Christmas we had to be more creative because of financial reasons than ever before. Next week I’ll share our solutions for this year’s holiday…

Merry Christmas, readers!

Our Christmas Tree

Unfinished Business….

I guess that would be an appropriate name for this post.

Thanksgiving Day 5k

I did not complete a post last week Thursday, I did not complete NaNoWriMo, and I have not come to a conclusion about my current job.

Posting an entry on my blog last week was a bust. Obviously the day wasn’t all bad–it was Thanksgiving for goodness sake! We spent the time with family, ran a 5k, ate really yummy food–it was a blast! Other things happened too, like my dog chewed through my  laptop adapter. Unfortunately my battery is so bad, my laptop will only operate plugged in. (My mother-in-law let me have her old adapter, but it was a little late for a posting–thanks Momma J!)

Thursday was also the day I decided to quit NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I had over half the word count left to write. I didn’t see that being accomplished in roughly a week. At that point in time, the only thing NaNoWriMo seemed to be doing for me was contributing to my stress level.

And that brings me to my job. I’m still not sure what to do (see What to do when we don’t know what to do). And not knowing what to do, can be very stressful. Especially when a decision will directly impact one’s way of life. I worry about being able to sustain my family financially. The other day my co-worker reminded me, God takes care of our finances. I needed that reminder.

So yeah, I feel like a bunch of loose ends thrown together.

Despite not completing a post last week, spending Thanksgiving with family was priceless. Despite not completing NaNoWriMo, the decision to pull out early lifted the burden of too many commitments. Despite uncertainty with my job, having a wonderful co-worker there to say what I needed to hear most is invaluable.

Most importantly, having a God to hold my loose ends together….irreplaceable.