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A Look Inside Financial Peace University

If you think about it, money touches every nook and cranny of our lives. We measure our successes and failures by it. We use it to fill our gas tanks, pay for groceries, and keep the lights on. And just when we start to feel like we have the hang of it . . . something breaks, someone gets sick, or the banks call asking for their money back. Whether you’ve got your money tied up in credit cards, student loans, that massive car payment, or even those unwanted medical bills, it all adds up—and fast. 

Most of us have been there. Have you? But here’s the thing: You can’t stay there. We get it. It feels like you’re stuck in a constant cycle, living paycheck to paycheck and anxiously wondering when the next shoe will drop. Guess what? Dave Ramsey has been there. But the best part is that he used his story to impact millions of other stories with the hope and help of Financial Peace University

Dave’s Story

You could say Dave Ramsey had it all.

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At just 26 years old, he was making $20,000 a month in the real estate business. With that kind of money, Dave and his wife, Sharon, were able to do all the things they’d always dreamed of doing. 

You’ve heard the phrase, “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Well, if you knew Dave and Sharon Ramsey then, they were the Joneses. Just about everything in their lives seemed perfect—from the outside. But the truth? They were deep in debt. 

You can probably guess what happened next. Life came crashing down around them when the bank called his notes. Dave and Sharon had less than six months to pay back millions of dollars. So, they did what anyone in this situation would do—they sold everything. 

But it wasn’t fast enough. On the night of September 22, 1988, Dave and Sharon signed bankruptcy papers while sitting at their old oak kitchen table. They were terrified. Dave says, “I didn’t have any answers. I was the guy that had all the answers.”

Financial Peace University: The Beginning

In the midst of his money problems, Dave started pursuing what God had to say about money. Even though he had the fancy finance degrees and letters behind his name, he looked to the Bible for any wisdom he could find. Comparing biblical wisdom with what he learned in business school, Dave came up with a new plan. That plan included making (and sticking to) a budget, saving an emergency fund (for when Murphy comes knocking), and getting and staying out of debt.

With his experience crawling out of bankruptcy fresh in his mind and a plan to help others avoid paying the stupid tax (like he had to), Dave put on his best suit and started a class called Life After Debt. This was his way of sharing everything he learned the hard way. When five families showed up— later growing to 350 families over the next three years—he knew he had hit a nerve and found a need.

Financial Peace University: Today

Since its inception, Financial Peace University (FPU) has seen quite a few changes. But each change was made with one goal: to help more people find HOPE. From Dave’s very first class, which lasted a whopping 26 weeks, to the next update, which took the course down to 13 weeks, to the current nine-week course, that goal has remained the same. 

This new year, we’re rolling out one of our biggest updates yet. We’ve revised the lessons to help you get more out of each Baby Step! Plus, you’ll get expert financial advice not only from Dave, but also from his daughter and best-selling author, Rachel Cruze, and retirement expert and best-selling author Chris Hogan. 

You’ll learn how to save an emergency fund, get out of debt, save for retirement and college, pay off the house, build wealth, and give generously. It’s a lot to work, but it’s all incredibly motivating—and rewarding! Don’t worry, Dave simplifies the process by taking you through the 7 Baby Steps. In fact, you’ll find that the first four lessons explain the Baby Steps to a T so you can get started right away! Believe us—once you get moving on the first Baby Step, momentum and your own intensity will keep you going.

“When we began FPU I really thought our financial condition was hopeless. But with each week that our great coordinators presented the FPU materials, I could see God revealing Himself as the true source of any hope, and He began exposing the many financial and spiritual misconceptions and lies I had bought into. Now for the first time, I not only find real hope but an excitement that is expressing itself in actions taken to change our situation, where apathy existed before. 
 — John & Tina, Arvada, CO

What’s the new FPU experience like? So glad you asked. In addition to the nine-lesson course, you’ll also have monthly or yearly access to ongoing content, tools and resources that will help you make a lifetime of solid financial decisions.  

Here’s the thing: Accountability is key on your journey to financial peace. That’s why it’s important to join a Financial Peace University group near you! Groups meet in churches, coffee shops and community centers all over the country and are led by incredible volunteer coordinators who are passionate about helping you win with money. If you can’t squeeze it into your busy schedule, you can still take the course online from the comfort of your couch!

This course was designed to show you how to win with money. The average FPU member completing the course pays off $5,300 in debt and saves $2,700 in the first 90 days! Today, nearly 25 years later, over five million people have taken the course and found practical financial wisdom—but most importantly, they’ve found HOPE. 

Financial Peace University: A Sneak Peek

Five million people, huh? Yup. Five million! You’re probably wondering, How has this one program changed so many lives? Good question. You should probably know that Financial Peace University isn’t the answer to your money problems. It’s not going to do the work for you. But Financial Peace University is the plan to get you there. Dave always says that personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% knowledge. That means when you change your behavior— just like Dave did over two decades ago—you will start to win with money. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to introduce you to the NEWLY updated lessons: 

Lesson 1: Baby Step 1 & Budgeting

Save $1,000 for Your Starter Emergency Fund

Baby Step 1 is all about having a plan for when Murphy comes knocking. And believe us—he will come knocking. It’s time to have a plan for when those annoying, but inevitable, emergencies arise. 

This lesson will also give you a deep dive into something that makes people cringe—the budget. FYI: Making a budget (and sticking to it) is the key to financial success. It helps you learn how to take control of your money once and for all as you journey the road to financial peace. And if you haven’t heard, we have a really good tool for that. It’s called EveryDollar Plus. With this tool, you can create a budget in less than 10 minutes. Not only that, you can sync your bank account directly to the app so you can easily track your transactions. When you sign up for your FPU membership, you’ll get one-year access for free! 

Lesson 2: Baby Step 2

Pay Off All Debt (Except the House) Using the Debt Snowball

The borrower is indeed slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7 NIV). In this lesson, Dave shines light on what debt is (yup, that student loan does count as debt) and debunks common myths about debt. You’ll learn about our proven method, the debt snowball, that has helped millions attack their debt and say goodbye to it for good. You might need to find yourself a sharp pair of scissors for this one because we’re cutting up plastic.

Lesson 3: Baby Step 3

Save 3–6 Months of Expenses in a Fully Funded Emergency Fund

Now that you’ve got your starter emergency fund saved and your debt paid off, it’s time to save even more! In this lesson, you’ll learn the importance of saving 3–6 months of expenses in your fully funded emergency fund. Baby Step 3 keeps you from going back into debt when an emergency arises.  

Lesson 4: Baby Steps 4, 5, 6 & 7

Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of Your Household Income in Retirement 
Baby Step 5: Save for Your Children’s College Fund 
Baby Step 6: Pay Off Your Home Early 
Baby Step 7: Build Wealth and Give 

Now that your past is in the past, it’s time to start investing in your future! And this is where it starts to get really fun! You’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here so now you’ll see it pay off! Plus, doesn’t retiring with dignity and giving like no one else sound really, really good?

Lesson 5: Buyer Beware

Discover how to stay strong against marketing tactics that try to get you to spend more money. No more of those “gotcha” schemes!

Lesson 6: The Role of Insurance

Protect your family with the insurance you need.

Lesson 7: Retirement Planning

Learn how to plan for your retirement and save for your children’s college.

Lesson 8: Real Estate & Mortgages

Start understanding mortgages and whether or not you should buy, sell or rent.

Lesson 9: The Great Misunderstanding

In this final lesson of FPU, you’ll learn the biggest money secret Dave’s discovered along the way.

Financial Peace University has changed the way I treat my finances in general, and my debt in particular. It has helped me realize that I will not be able to get out from under debt by just paying minimum payments. Over the last year, it has also helped me realize that I need to be more intentional and intense about this process.”
— Brian, Raymore, MO

What’s in a Membership?

Good question! Every annual or monthly membership to Financial Peace University will equip you with the ability to budget with confidence, save with purpose, and even change your family tree! Here’s what to expect:

  • 12 months of access to
  • Nine-lesson course workbook
  • 12 months of access to EveryDollar Plus, the world’s best budgeting tool
  • Additional courses for different life stages: The Legacy Journey and Smart Money Smart Kids
  • Access to Ramsey Event livestreams
  • Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money e-book
  • Ongoing updates and future content

Your Journey Starts Here

Just imagine the feeling you’ll have when you finally pay off that last student loan. Or imagine logging in to your retirement account and seeing that the years you’ve spent investing have earned you nine extra zeros. Think about how the generations of your family tree could trace their own financial peace and hope all the way back to you! How would you like to financially bless your family, church and others because you handled money the right way? Believe us—it can happen. It won’t happen overnight, but it starts with you choosing to change, one step at a time.

Financial Peace University is more than just nine lessons. It’s your membership to life-change and your ticket to financial peace. No matter where you are on your journey, we’ll be right beside you, cheering you on every step of the way!

Do you know someone who could benefit from Financial Peace University? Take the first step toward changing someone’s life by gifting a Financial Peace University membership today!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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