Volunteering Series: Financial Peace University
Previously Published in the Pineapple Post
By Helena Kyle, Freelance Writer
On the heels of Hurricane Matthew, the value of disaster preparedness is still on my mind. The beauty and winter climate of the Treasure Coast is intoxicating enough to lull even a type-A personality into a blissful false sense of security, however, storms arise in any place, including “Paradise”. The same could be said in regards to our personal finances as well; remember the not-so-distant real-estate and stock market collapse? Financial Peace University volunteer coordinators teach financial management principles that help others avoid financial damage from inevitable, cyclical financial storms. Are you facing astronomical student loan debt? Living paycheck to paycheck? One layoff away from financial crisis? Using credit card/s for unexpected emergencies? Do you have an emergency savings fund of at least $1,000, and at best, 3 – 6 months living expenses? Is financial stress wreaking havoc on your closest relationships?
Financial Peace University (FPU), is a once-a-week, nine week course developed by Dave Ramsey, on how to apply simple principles, called baby steps, to our personal finances in order to attain financial peace. The coordinators facilitating the FPU classes are some of the most dedicated, generous volunteers I have ever met; they come from different walks of life, and range in age from twenty somethings to well-seasoned somethings. One thing FPU volunteers have in common is that they are empathetic, encouraging, and enthusiastic. Some of the volunteers take the course as they coordinate it.
FPU classes along the Treasure Coast are typically held at church facilities, however, a coordinator can host a class in their own home, or at any accommodating venue. I recently had opportunity to meet, and sit in on a class, with the following FPU volunteer coordinators:
Lorraine, a social worker, and Jerry, a business owner, volunteer to coordinate their two-hour FPU class, one evening a week, biannually, at Treasure Coast Community Church. As all FPU coordinators, they were personally impacted by the financial principles highlighted through the course, consequently, they began volunteering by coordinating classes in their home, nine years ago. Due to popularity, they eventually relocated to their church facility. Approximately 20 people attended the class I visited last autumn. The students were a diverse group, ranging from recent college graduates, to baby boomers and beyond. One couple in the class attended the series for the second time, to refresh, and to encourage others to stay the course. Kirstin, of the couple, mentioned that one of the greatest benefits of living debt free is their ability to give generously to a charity near-and-dear to their heart, and, to pay cash for annual family vacations.
Kevin and Felicia, coordinated their first FPU class, of five students, at their home in Vero Beach; the average age attending was fifty. Kevin, a realtor, and Felicia, a psychiatrist, are in their twenties. Their personal experience, coupled with the stories of friends and family, motivated them to volunteer as FPU coordinators. They will soon have the opportunity to coordinate future FPU classes at a facility with room for growth.
Beth and Tim are volunteer coordinators at First Baptist Jensen Beach; they have been volunteering for four years. Beth remembers the pressure of “being enslaved to debt”. They were inspired to volunteer while going through FPU back in 2008. Their average class attendance is fifteen to twenty. One of their students, Taylor, a twenty-two year old college student, took the class in preparation of applying the principles taught, to her future career income.
Newlyweds, Tim and Christy, signed up to be volunteer FPU coordinators a year ago, with an average class attendance of forty. Their recent class ranged in age from seventeen to seventy. They teach the class year-round at the church they attend, New Hope Fellowship in Palm City. Tim and Christy take work ethic to a new level. After attending an FPU class with her parents, Christy worked three jobs to pay off her substantial student loan debt; she pushed to become debt free prior to marriage. Tim learned from the mistakes of those he witnessed living with the negative consequences of credit card debt. He accomplished his goal of graduating college debt free by earning as many scholarships as possible and working while attending college. He came to know about FPU through a podcast. Tim and Christy work full-time as well as working together to build their own residential and commercial cleaning business. Christy recommends FPU to engaged couples, she says it serves to initiate open communication regarding financial management.
Typically, FPU volunteer coordinators facilitate classes in September, and January. There is no need for professional credentials, nor specific training to coordinate a class. Are you interested in ringing in the New Year by helping others attain financial peace? If so, consider becoming an FPU volunteer coordinator.
For more information on coordinating an FPU class, or for attending a class, go to: www.daveramsey.com.