Teaching Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University

by Kevin on August 27, 2009

Last night was the first of thirteen meetings of Financial Peace University at our church. I am helping teach with six other teachers. We’ve got over 70 people signed up so I’ll be working with a group of 10-15 people.

I’ve never taught a personal finance course of any kind in the past and I’m a bit nervous. I have worked one-on-one with a few friends and co-workers to go over setting up a budget, but nothing as structured as the FPU coursework.

I’ve also never been through Financial Peace University, but I understand the concepts well. Lack of knowledge is always a concern because someone can throw a curve ball question at you where you have no idea as what to say. I think that is expected, and since I’m just volunteering I don’t think anyone expects any of the co-teachers to have all of the answers.

The fact that I’m teaching a Dave Ramsey class may come as a bit of a shock to some long-time readers. I Like Dave Ramsey, But He is Still Wrong is something I posted in July 2008. The post has generated a long discussion with nearly 100 comments.

This is a brief summary of what issues I saw in the program at the time:

Flaws in the System

As with any system I think there will be flaws. It is inevitable. The same holds true for Dave’s system. My two major beefs:

  • I don’t like the debt snowball because it contradicts basic math.
  • I don’t like his anti-credit card stance because credit cards are not the problem. A spending mentality is the problem. Credit cards are the symptom in my opinion.

Become Informed Before Making a Final Decision

At the same time someone wise once told me that if you disagree with someone you should immerse yourself in articles and books that agree with them. Everyone has a bias so try to read from all sides.

For example if you love Dave Ramsey you should:

  • Read something directly from him so you understand where he is coming from
  • Read something that agrees with his point of view
  • Read something that disagrees with his point of view

You can apply this model with anything… Dave Ramsey, politics, etc.

I will be the first to admit I’ve not read one of Ramsey’s books (the The Total Money Makeover being the most popular) from cover to cover. But I’ve reviewed the baby steps, read his short The Money Answer Book: Quick Answers to Everyday Financial Questions which hits on his views on just about everything, and listened in to his radio show.

So I’ll take it one step further and fully immerse myself in the Dave Ramsey culture to help develop my point of view.

Again, I will be the first to admit his system works. Absolutely. People out of debt. I’m all for it. I just think the system could be tweaked a little bit. And I’m not trashing the man. He has changed thousands of lives and should be commended for it.

So I’ll help teach the class. I’ll see the lives changed. At the end maybe I will have changed my mind. Maybe not. I’m going in with my eyes wide open and willing to change. (I really am looking forward to it. The introduction lesson that pitched the class was really funny. The first lesson used well placed humor to drive home significant financial points. See? I like Dave. Honest.)

At the end of the day I would rather someone get out of debt the Dave Ramsey way than to not get out of debt at all.

With helping teach the course at least I’ll be able to say, hey, I’ve been through it, I’ve seen it, I like it, but I think it still has some flaws. I’ll be making an informed decision.

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