Free Fort Rucker workshop continues to battle debt
David Ramsey

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- For many, January represents an annual priority reassessment with money management and debt reduction often topping New Year's resolution lists.

For more than two years Fort Rucker's free 13-week Financial Peace University series, co-sponsored by the Installation Chaplain's Office and Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program has helped participants become debt free and begin saving.

"More than 1 million Families have attended Financial Peace University with amazing results," according to Dave Ramsey, FPU founder. "On average, these families paid off $5,300 in debt and saved $2,700 in just the first 90 days."

Beginning Jan. 18, Fort Rucker FPU participants will meet once a week for two hours at the post Spiritual Life Center. Participants enjoy a light supper before the 6 p.m. classes begin. Each lesson focuses on a specific area of personal finance, featuring Ramsey's baby-step program.

Sharon Coley, Financial Readiness Program Manager explained how the program works.

"The concept is to take steps to get out of debt and to build wealth the same way you learned to walk - one step at a time," Coley said. "It works because it is simple and it gets to the heart of the money problem."

"We started Financial Peace University here at Fort Rucker about two and a half years ago, and it has been met with great success. During the first four sessions, students paid down over $500,000 of debt and placed $250,000 into savings," said Beth Gunter, ACS Survivor Outreach Services Financial Counselor, who heads up the Fort Rucker FPU.

When asked, "Has Financial Peace University made an impact on your financial well being'" FPU alumni responses testified to the value of the program. Here are just a few of their comments.

Absolutely. For the first time in 11 years of marriage, I feel like we have a plan and that we are going in the right direction of having financial peace.

FPU is life changing. The budget sheet is a great tool. My husband and I have been trying to find a budget that works for us and FPU is what we have been waiting for.

Yes, I'm more organized now and I've noticed more discipline in my budgeting with the education I've received here. I feel very confident about my success in the future thanks to FPU.

Yes, it provided a plan that worked for both my husband's and my personality as well as the way we handle money and are approaching our financial future. We are now debt free.

Yes. It re-energized us about paying off our debt. As we are preparing to start investing it was great to learn how to do that.

We never had a budget before and now we do. It has answered a lot of questions I had and taught me things I never even thought about before. I strongly recommend FPU to everyone and think it is awesome it was provided to us on post.

"During our fifth session of FPU, participants came to the program cumulatively with over $436,000 of debt. During the 13 week course, they added $4,140 to their emergency funds, paid down their debt by $153,414.28 and added $22,890.20 to other savings," Gunter said.

FPU is one of Financial Readiness Program's most successful workshops, according to Coley.

"Since the start of the program, several participants have returned to announce to other participants that they are debt free," Coley said. "This program is for anyone and everyone desiring to enhance their financial status."

For more information or to register for the next FPU class, call Beth Gunter at 334-255-9639.

Financial Peace University Baby Steps

Baby Step 1
$1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is for those unexpected events in life that you can't plan for: the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, a faulty car transmission, and the list goes on and on. It's not a matter of if these events will happen; it's simply a matter of when they will happen.

Baby Step 2
Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
List your debts, excluding the house, in order. The smallest balance should be your number one priority. Don't worry about interest rates unless two debts have similar payoffs. If that's the case, then list the higher interest rate debt first.

Baby Step 3
Three to six months of expenses in savings
Once you complete the first two baby steps, you will have built serious momentum. But don't start throwing all your "extra" money into investments quite yet. It's time to build your full emergency fund.

Baby Step 4
Invest 15 percent of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
When you reach this step, you'll have no payments - except the house - and a fully funded emergency fund. Now it's time to get serious about building wealth.

Baby Step 5
College funding for children
By this point, you should have already started Baby Step 4 - investing 15 percent of your income - before saving for college. Whether you are saving for you or your child to go to college, you need to start now.

Baby Step 6
Pay off home early
Now it's time to begin chunking all of your extra money toward the mortgage. You are getting closer to realizing the dream of a life with no house payments.

Baby Step 7
Build wealth and give
It's time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess. It's really the only way to live.

Page last updated Thu January 6th, 2011 at 15:06