Thursday, September 3, 2015

Let's talk about MONEY!!

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend and she mentioned making a big purchase on a credit card.  When I told her that I’m not a credit-card-kind-of-girl, she gasped! 
“What?! Credit is the American way!” she said.
I’d like to introduce my first guest on the blog; my brother-in-law Steve!
We’re going to talk about a subject that not very many are comfortable taking about: Money!  
(I know I run and hide when my husband brings up the subject!!) J 
Last year I attended a class that Steve and Lori (his wife) facilitated called Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey, also known as FPU.  It was life-changing and I wanted to share a little bit about it on the blog.  I’m still new at it so I thought what better person to ask about it but the expert, Steve!
First of all, Steve, I’d like to thank you for being willing to let me interview you today.  Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
I am 46 years old and I was born and raised in Antioch, CA, currently living in Brentwood, CA. I have been married for 19 years to my wife Lori and have two teenage daughters. 
Why Dave Ramsey and how were you introduced to Financial Peace University?
I was introduced to Financial Peace by my Uncle Dave (not David Ramsey!) and by doing some research about the program. I was immediately attracted to how Dave Ramsey used God’s principles to get people out of debt.
Why were you looking for financial direction?
Well to be honest I have always been pretty good with my money and I have never really had debt, at least not unmanageable debt. The way I managed my money had a lot to do with the way I was raised, but like with anything there is always room for improvement, especially when you get married and there are two people making the financial decisions.
Tell me a little about your childhood.  When did you first start earning money and why do you think you were financially responsible at a young age?
I was brought up in a middle class household by two very caring and hard working parents. I have an older sister and for the most part we got along, just your normal sibling stuff. I started earning money at the age of 12 by delivering the Oakland Tribune. For you younger readers I was not driving at the age of 12, kids actually delivered the newspaper on their bikes. I started delivering the paper because I wanted a phone in my bedroom and my dad said I had to pay for it. This was the start of me being introduced to responsibility and that money wasn’t easy to come by. At that time I didn’t realize that how I was being raised was teaching me how to be responsible with money. I think a lot of parents today don’t realize that by handing their kids everything they want is hurting them down the road (another guest blog post). I am not saying my parents didn’t buy me stuff, because they did, but they were teaching me the value of a dollar without me knowing it (kind of like Mr. Miyagi). Thanks Mom and Dad.
Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get where you are today financially.  What was the first thing you did?
  When my Uncle introduced me to Financial Peace, I was about 10 years into my marriage, with two kids, and it was when my manageable debt was starting to become unmanageable. Now that my Uncle led me to the water, it was up to me to drink it. The first and most crucial step was to get my wife on board. Fortunately for me, she was open to doing the program and to change how we were handling our money. (Unfortunately, this is the hardest step for most couples and we can go over some ways to help persuade your better half in a future guest blog!) 
Yes, I agree this is a big topic to cover in one post!  I might have to bring you back as a guest again!  Or maybe hear from Lori and get her perspective! 
So now that I got my wife on board it was time to apply what we were learning in Financial Peace. The second step was to put our money in one pot, again a very difficult step among married couples. The third step was the dreaded budget. This is the time where you give all your money a name, down to the last penny. The budget is the most important step to becoming debt free and the most difficult. It can take up to six months to get a budget that you both agree on and to be honest you may totally never agree, we haven’t, but we have managed to become and most importantly stay debt free.
What does that mean “Debt free?”
Most people think debt free means to have zero debt and it does, but in FP debt free is reached when you are down to just a mortgage. Then you are able to get all gazelle on your mortgage. You will have to take an FP class to find out about "getting gazelle."  The Bible say’s in Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a slave to the lender”. Being “debt-free” truly means being FREE!

How did you live through those first months/year?  What were some of the major changes?
Miserable, no need to sugar coat this. There was a lot a disagreeing, but that’s when you have to stand strong. I would have to say the major changes were mostly mine because if it was up to me, we would have spent money on only the four walls: Food, Shelter, Transportation and Clothing and if I was comfortable with my body I would of spent money only on three walls. To be honest the major change for me was compromise (my wife is going to laugh).
FPU in a nutshell:
Can you tell me what has been the drive to get you to financial freedom?
This one is easy, it is my family and 1Timothy 5:8 that says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
All the strength needed!
What has been a failure on this journey and how have you learned from it?
I would have to say not always sticking to the program like we should, but I have learned it is never too late to start again. “Failure isn’t falling down; it is remaining where you’ve fallen.” Not sure who said that but that’s good stuff.
If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
So many clichés come to mind; “nothing good is easy”, “early bird gets the worm” and “don’t let life pass you by”, etc… But the best advice I could give is to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. I am not perfect, far from it. I have failed him so many times but if you want true peace he is the only way.
Love that!  What about a piece of advice regarding money? 
The common sense answer is to never spend more money than you have. In FP you will learn that the wealthiest people have high integrity and a giving heart. Money is also the only thing God says to test him on. So, my advice is to have integrity, a giving heart and to listen to God. I have a feeling with this combination money will not be an issue.
What has been one of the most rewarding moments of your time spent teaching and talking about FPU?
I would like to clarify that I don’t teach, that is Dave’s job, I facilitate, but to answer your question there are two that come to mind. First, it is when someone comes up to me and thanks me for helping them get their finances together. Second, I had a chance to facilitate an FPU class for my Church’s interns. This was awesome because most of them are just starting out and this finance stuff was all new to them. I couldn’t stop imagining at this young age if they start following these FP principles how it will change their lives and open up so many doors. #hellofuture.
Name one thing on your bucket list!
I am so boring…
 Probably to sit on the couch and watch sports all day.
Check! Bucket list completed.
No, seriously, I would like to go on a Missions trip someday.
How does one get started on this financial journey?
Go to The Fellowship Church in Antioch, CA and join a FPU small group!!!
You can check out the website for times and locations at

Thanks again Steve!  I hope you come back and give us a few more tips on financial freedom. 
For more information or to find a facilitator in your area please check out Dave Ramsey’s website at

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