Classes help families save, pay off debt

Published 6:55 pm Friday, January 14, 2011

In the turmoil of a bad economy, paycheck-to-paycheck living and escalating debt, many American families are awash in money troubles.


However, help is on the way. Several local churches are sponsoring financial freedom classes by the New York Times-bestselling author, Dave Ramsey, in the coming weeks.

Ramsey, the host of the nationally-syndicated “The Dave Ramsey Show,” is the creator of Financial Peace University (FPU), a 13-week program that helps people get rid of debt, save money and learn financial behaviors based on Scriptural principles.

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Southside Baptist Church is one church locally that began offering the classes this week. The church has hosted the classes annually for the past several years, said Associate Pastor Jerry McLeod.

“Our families, churches, localities, states and nation as a whole are drowning in debt,” McLeod said. “The problem is apparent, but too many people find themselves short on solutions.”

McLeod said the church hosts the event as a ministry to its own members and the community at large.

“We just want to help people where they are hurting,” he said.

Dave Ramsey knows first-hand what financial peace means in his own life. By age 26, he had established a $4 million real estate portfolio, only to lose it all by age 30. He has since rebuilt his financial life using principles pulled straight from the Bible.

According to Ramsey, the average family pays off $5,300 in debt and saves $2,700 in just 91 days after beginning FPU. Most families are completely out of debt, except for the mortgage, in 18 to 24 months. Since FPU began in 1994, more than 650,000 people have completed the program.

Each of the 13 lessons concentrates on a different aspect of a person’s finances, with topics ranging from saving, relating with money, cash flow planning, dumping debt, credit, buyer beware, insurance, bargain buying, long-term investing, retirement and college planning, employment, real estate, mortgages and giving.

During each two-hour class session, students will experience financial teaching by Dave Ramsey via video for the first hour. In the second hour, students break into small groups and discuss how to apply the principles to their everyday life.

The cost of the program is about $100, but some churches offer the program at reduced cost to their members. Once a person or family has purchased the program, they will have the audio versions of every class to refer back to at a later time. In addition, they can personally attend any FPU class in the future if they need a refresher course. Also included in the kit are workbooks, the “envelope system” for simple budgeting, budgeting forms and Ramsey’s book, “Financial Peace.”

Southside Baptist Church, 917 Carolina Road, and Faith Lutheran Church, 2730 Bridge Road, began classes this week. It’s not too late to join the classes, as long as you do so before the next class meets. Southside’s classes are on Thursday, and Faith Lutheran meets Tuesday. For more information, visit