Financial Peace can lead to ‘Great Recovery’

Published 11:25 pm Friday, August 19, 2011

Financial guru Dave Ramsey teaches people how to get out of debt, save money and live on a budget. One of his biggest pieces of advice: Get rid of credit cards.

In the midst of economic turmoil, several Suffolk churches are offering some financial peace.

The churches will be holding sessions of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University soon. FPU trains families to live on a budget, get out of debt and save money by following Biblical financial principles and a series of goals.

“We’ve had a lot of success with this program,” said Brian Jones, who coordinates the program at Faith Lutheran Church and at his employer in Norfolk.

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In fact, one family at the church who had three young children paid off more than $500,000 in debt in one year through the program. Before, the marriage had been on the rocks. The majority of the debt was from houses, cars and other big-ticket items that they wound up selling, Jones said.

“They called me up one night and said, ‘We paid it all off and we’re back together,’” Jones said. “That story alone has motivated us to continue to do this for as long as we have.”

The Financial Peace classes now incorporate an initiative called “The Great Recovery” — a program that aims to get everyone out of debt, starting with the nation’s churches.

“It just rang so true with us,” Jones said. “It’s nice to say we’re going to wait for the government to move in and get things righted again, but we don’t have that kind of time.”

Jones said that as people get out of debt, “consumer spending will return because people won’t be so afraid to spend their money.”

“That’s why we’re so excited about it,” Jones said.

Jones has his own story with Financial Peace University. He and his wife had already climbed out of $20,000 worth of credit card debt, and fallen back into the same hole, when they found FPU.

“I found this program,” he said. “I said, ‘This is the only way for us to do this.’ We need to focus on getting rid of all the debt. We’re going to do it the right way this time.”

That’s why Jones was inspired to be a coordinator at church and at work.

“I live and breathe this thing every single day,” he said. “I’ve seen incredible results.”

The first class is free to people who may be skeptical. If they decide to do the program, people can have their kits by the next week.

“If at the end of the class it’s not for you, you can have a cookie and go home and not come back and there will be no hard feelings,” Jones said.

Anybody — not just church members — can attend FPU at any church. Classes meet for 13 consecutive weeks for about two hours. The cost is $119, which includes all of the classes, the class videos on DVDs and the ability to go back to any FPU in the future at no cost.

Many churches, including Faith Lutheran, offer child care during the program.

“I believe in this thing with everything in me,” Jones said. “We’re trying to get as many people in the community as possible.”

Below are churches offering the program in coming weeks:

Beech Grove United Methodist Church, 4251 Driver Lane

Preview: Aug. 21 at 12:30 p.m.

Class begins: Aug. 21

Class meets: Sundays at 12:30 p.m.

Suffolk Presbyterian Church 410 N. Broad St.

Previews: Aug. 28 and Sept. 11 at 4 p.m. each day

Class begins: Sept. 11

Class meets: Sundays at 4 p.m.

Faith Lutheran Church, 2730 Bridge Road

Class begins: Sept. 11

Class meets: Sundays at 3 p.m.