I don’t often recommend a lot of self-help books or seminars to people that come into my office. I find that many of self-help options tend to sound inspirational and encourage change but often don’t make a call to action. This can leave people feeling frustrated when lasting change just doesn’t happen.
I think one exception to the rule is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. When clients are struggling with debt and feeling overwhelmed with their finances, I sometimes recommend that they look into the program to see if they think it might be right for them.
What is Financial Peace University?
Financial Peace University is a class that couples can take to learn about how to manage their money. The goal is to be debt free. The class teaches couples how to set a budget, pay off their debt, and manage their money. There are local classes offered almost everywhere.
For couples who can’t attend a class or aren’t ready to commit, the Dave Ramsey website offers a variety of tools to help people manage their money as well. Many of the tools are free and very educational. You can even listen to archives of the radio show for free which can be helpful to couples learning about the program. There are a variety of books and other options available for purchase as well.
Financial Problems Equal Marriage Problems
A lot of couples enter into counseling because they argue a lot about money. Disagreements about finances lead to a lot of marital issues. Out of control spending, debt, bankruptcy, unemployment, and lack of money to pay the monthly bills take a toll.
As a counselor, I can help clients address some of the reasons for their spending problems. For example, a person who is feeling like he’s lost his freedom in marriage may go on some spending sprees in an attempt to gain back control. Or someone who grew up feeling deprived as a child may want to buy their children everything. Those sorts of issues can be addressed in marriage counseling.
However, some couples also need some basics about budgeting, saving, and spending. Many are reluctant to meet with a financial advisor or to take a class on budgeting. These are gaps that aren’t appropriate to be addressed in counseling.
Sometimes people have specific questions about interest rates, inheritance money, or home buying. These aren’t questions a marriage counselor can answer. However, a couples’ disagreements over these issues can cause major problems.
Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University addresses these gaps. It teaches people how to learn how to be in control of their money and how they can track their spending.
Financial Peace Encourages People to Develop a Plan to Reach Their Goals
Although most financial advisors recommend people attack their debts in order of which one has the highest interest rate, Financial Peace University recommends starting with your smallest debt first. This can help people get more motivated to pay off debt as they start paying off their bills one at a time.
The financial advice is sound. It recommends people take what is called “baby steps” to begin saving up for an emergency fund, paying off debts, saving for retirement, and building wealth. You don’t have to be rich and there’s a never ending amount of couples who report being able to get themselves out of deep debt with the program.
The couples I know who have taken the program all report it was very helpful. In fact, they often report it was life changing and has allowed them to be in control of their money which has greatly improved their marriage. Becoming debt free offers a lot more freedom and choice which can make for a much healthier relationship.
The Danger of Making Financial Changes
One of the issues of making big changes is that your marriage might actually get worse initially. You may argue more about the budget, struggle to agree on the changes, and have difficulty adjusting to your new lifestyle. However, things will get better after getting a little worse.
Often when it comes to making big changes, one person is more motivated than the other. Sometimes one person is completely unwilling to make any changes. This can be very difficult and frustrating when you reach a stand still.
So it is important to check out Financial Peace University to make sure it is really right for you. Check out Dave Ramsey’s website and consider listening to some of the radio shows to get an idea of his principles. If you decide it is right for you, look into classes near you to help you find financial peace.