The Christmas season is mostly over (though I'm sure we'll leave the decorations up for a little while longer so Dessa can continue to enjoy them) and we are looking ahead to the New Year. We always use this time to reflect on the past twelve months and to focus on our goals for the year ahead. Maria and I don't get caught up much in traditional resolutions, but this is our favorite time to work on goal setting for our future. Most of our biggest goals in years past had a financial focus and this year is no different.
For the past several years, Dave Ramsey's financial advice has served as our guidepost as we look ahead and plan for the future. Maria has long been a follower of Dave Ramsey and she introduced me to his financial wisdom shortly after I proposed to her in 2014. As part of our marriage preparation, we watched Dave's comprehensive Financial Peace University videos together. I am a practical man and Dave's simple, straightforward advice was hard to ignore, so I became a follower, too.
Dave has seven simple Baby Steps towards financial freedom. FPU teaches you what those Baby Steps are and how you should work toward them, including one of the most important items: monthly budgets. Working on our monthly budget isn't always easy or convenient (especially now that we have a toddler in the house), but Maria and I always make time to discuss our finances and it's one of the most important tasks we accomplish every month.
Since we started, we've followed all of Dave's financial principles and have reaped the benefits:
- We paid off my $180,000 in student loans
- We saved a significant down payment (66%!) for our new home
- We consistently overpay on our 15-year mortgage monthly payment
- We paid cash for a new-to-us minivan when the transmission went out on one of our vehicles
- We created a significant emergency fund that saved the day when our water heater unexpectedly died
- We set up and contribute monthly to our retirement fund and Dessa's college savings fund
- We set time aside every month to review our monthly budget and create a financial plan for the month ahead
After we hit our first financial milestone and dumped all my student loan debt, we drove down to Nashville to do a debt-free scream live on the Dave Ramsey Show. It was one of the most exciting moments of our marriage.
We follow Dave Ramsey's advice throughout the year and are slowly working our way through the Baby Steps. Our short-term financial goals and needs continue to shift each time we achieve a new milestone and we often find ourselves reviewing our Financial Peace University course materials to reference the next step in our financial journey.
We recently sat down to figure out what our financial goals for 2019 should be. In the end, we came down to two things. First, we hate being in debt again (even if it is the mortgage for a home home that we absolutely love), so we decided to work hard and aim to pay off an extra $10,000 of our mortgage principal this year. We already overpay monthly, but we'll have to dig even deeper to achieve this goal. I'm certain we can do it. And this is on top of all the ongoing goals we've already set for ourselves and continue to follow through on, like doing monthly budgets and saving for retirement, college, and Dessa's wedding.
Second, we decided that we needed to watch Financial Peace University again. Like any complicated subject, a refresher course for personal finance is always good practice. And we just discovered that this is the perfect time for a refresher because Dave Ramsey and his team have released an updated version of Financial Peace University. So we made our New Years resolution to watch the new FPU course videos and make sure we are still doing everything possible to keep ourselves on solid financial ground for our family's future.
Maria and I are excited to watch through the new FPU courses, not just because we want to check out the updated content, but because there are quite a few new extras included that we haven't tried out before. Along with the courses and the workbooks, members get access to:
- Smart Money, Smart Kids, which is Dave's program for teaching financial basics to children. We were gifted this book from a like-minded friend after Dessa was born and it gave us great insight for the years ahead, but I'm particularly excited to watch the new videos in this series as we start teaching Dessa how to manage money.
- A subscription to Every Dollar Plus, Dave's budgeting app. I have a feeling that Maria and I will keep using our spreadsheet, but I'm really curious to try the app out.
- The Legacy Journey, which is Dave's Bible-based program for planning the financial legacy you will leave your family after you pass. Dave's Legacy Journey book was already on our list of financial resources to look into one day and we're excited to gain access to the bonus content Dave created on this topic in FPU.
- Access to financial coaches, an online community, and updated content throughout the year.
With these changes, FPU is moving from a one-time purchase model to an annual subscription-based model. The cost is $129 for the first year and $99 every year after that, but you can cancel at any time for no fees.
When we first started down this path, our primary focus was getting our finances in order and ridding ourselves of debt to finally create a little … well, peace with the way we handle money. Now that we are parents, the lessons learned from Financial Peace University are even more meaningful because they have a direct impact on Dessa's life and future. The ability to stand on solid financial footing is truly an incredible blessing for any family and Dave Ramsey isn't kidding when he says it will change your family tree.
Because Maria and I are so incredibly thankful that a friend started us on the Dave Ramsey path so many years ago, we want to pay it forward and share the gift of Financial Peace with one of you. In celebration of the upcoming New Year, we are giving away a one-year subscription to Dave Ramsey's new Financial Peace University! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. We wish you the best of luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This post was not sponsored by Dave Ramsey and it doesn't contain affiliate links. We are just incredibly thankful for all we have learned through Financial Peace University and the solid financial footing we gained by his advice. The program truly is life-changing and we are gifting a membership to FPU with our own money to one lucky follower who is ready to “live like no one else!”
And just in case you're wondering, Dessa isn't always this cooperative and adorable when we sit down to work on our budget. We often try to squeeze in budget conversations while she is down for a nap, but she hears us discussing our budget and personal finances on a daily basis. We believe it's healthy and important for us to model financial responsibility for Dessa in the home. She won't be ready to balance a checkbook any time soon, but she will quickly come to know the importance of living within her means, saving regularly, and giving generously.