Friend and freelance writer Les O’Dell shares this diary entry from the second session of Financial Peace University, a 13-week course from national talk-show host Dave Ramsey.
Welcome to reality
Our second session of Financial Peace University was humbling. The course coordinator asked each family to write on a nameless index card the best guess of our total level of indebtedness. He would add all of the figures together for a class total and then we could use that as a benchmark for measuring success when a total is calculated at the end of the course in May. Writing down that number was a sort of reality check. I wondered how our number (which I felt was way too large) would compare to everyone else’s figure.
Battle of the sexes
The second FPU lesson was relating with money. In it, Ramsey discusses the different approaches men and women take toward money and savings and how finances are often the top issue in marriages. He tells how money is tied to men’s self-esteem and to women’s sense of security. While admitting it was an over-generalization, Ramsey says that—according to women—having an emergency fund is the most important part of a financial plan.
Nerd? Free Spirit? Spender? Saver?
Ramsey also introduces several personality types, sharing that his experience is that most marriages have one of each. These are the nerd and the free spirit. Free spirits can be lackadaisical in their approach to money, sort of in a carefree way. On the other hand, nerds like to feel in control: they love doing budgets and (gasp!) may even enjoy filing tax forms. He also says people are usually either spenders or savers. Again, most marriages have one of each. It’s hard for me to imagine how someone could be a nerd/spender, but I guess it’s possible.
More from GFC, Below
My wife and I had already discussed this concept years before, and we’re easy to classify. I am the typical nerd/saver. On the other hand, I like to call her a recovering free-spirit/spender. I say recovering because we’re both totally on board with following the baby steps Ramsey outlines and improving both our finances and our relationship. As FPU teaches, we know we must get it together together and make financial decisions together.
Singles and Money
Through the lesson, Ramsey gives pointers on working together as a couple, how single people should approach their financial decisions (get an accountability partner and beware of impulse buying) and how to teach kids about money.
Relating to Others
Following the DVD lesson, our class split into smaller groups to discuss our own circumstances. Since none of the people in our group knew one another, no one was really willing to open up about their own situation or to share their circumstances. We all introduced ourselves and shared pleasantries, but that was about it. It looked like we had some work to do if we were all going to relate to one another.
Les O’Dell is a freelance writer living in Carbondale, Ill. His work can be seen in a number of newspapers, magazines, publications and websites. He is co-author of the popular “He Said, She Said” newspaper column. He can be found on the web at www.lesodell.net. Les is not affiliated or endorsed by LPL Financial.