Financial Peace University – Why I Coach It (Even Though I Don’t Believe in All of Dave Ramsey’s Principles)

When Nicole and I got married, we were young, in love and … in debt.

I had a luxury lease car, a mortgage balance more than the value of my home and nearly $30,000 in student loans.

Nicole only had a $20,000 car loan. Yeah, I married up.

Needless to say, we were prime candidates for Financial Peace University (FPU). This course was developed by Dave Ramsey, the best-selling author of the Total Money Makeover. The goal of FPU is to learn how to “dump debt, budget, build wealth and give like never before.”

Dave’s book, the course and daily radio show encouraged Nicole and I to live on a monthly budget for the last 7 years, pay off all of our debt and even eliminate our mortgage by age 35.

I’m very grateful for everything I learned from Dave and his team. For that reason, I wanted to give back and pay it forward to others by coordinating Financial Peace University classes … even though I didn’t exactly agree with all of Dave’s teachings.

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The Life-Changing Benefits of Complete Debt Freedom

Recently, my family became completely debt free.

No student loans, credit card debt, personal loans, car payments and, yes …  no mortgage.

After 7 years of educating myself, diligent planning and partnership with my wife, we officially do not owe a single dollar to anyone. (We do have a late fee for Moana at the library. Does that count?)

We’re incredibly excited about our young family’s future and the opportunities that our debt freedom has opened up for us.

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How I Wasted Over $13,000 Refinancing My Mortgage

In 2004, my first mortgage was a 30-year 5/1 ARM at 5.25%. If that information confuses you, don’t worry. I was completely confused too when I signed up for it at 22 years old.

I didn’t care though. After saving up $20,000, I was thrilled to put that money into my first house down payment. I was proud to be a homeowner.

That’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Buy a home so we’re not wasting our money on rent?

Well, homeownership can be a smart move for some, but not the way I did it. I made two mistakes right away with my first home:

  1. Signing up for a mortgage that I didn’t understand
  2. Committing to homeownership costs that I could not afford

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10 Pillars of Financial Independence – with Jonathan Mendonsa

Popularized by extreme frugality rock stars like Mr. Money Mustache, the Mad Fientist and Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme, the Financial Independence or FIRE community has grown in popularity over the past 5-10 years.

This is a subset of the personal finance world that encourages earning a solid income early in your life, saving a boat load of cash and retiring earlier than most of your peers.

For a frugal guy like me, this concept makes a ton of sense. Work hard, save and invest early so you can enjoy the majority of your life doing what you love.

But what happens when you’ve retired early? You still need something. You need a purpose or a goal to work toward.

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How to Increase Your Net Worth by $700,000 in 7 Years

One fall night in 2010, my wife Nicole and I were watching the Suze Orman Show. (Yes, I used to DVR it). There was this fun segment where someone would call in and Suze would analyze that person’s financial health and give them a grade. It was called How Am I Doing?

One term that we kept seeing over and over again on this segment was “Net Worth”. Since we were personal finance newbies, we had no idea what this meant. Nicole and I were making a combined six-figure income together so we figured our net worth must be HUGE.

After the show was over, we decided to see how rich we really were. There was no doubt in our mind that we’d be better off than most of the jokers that call in to the show and get an “F” grade from Suze!

via GIPHY

We walked upstairs and started to write down all of our numbers on a big white board. By separating our “assets” (what we owned) and our liabilities (what we owed) into two big columns, we started to discover that we weren’t rich.

We were kinda broke.

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How to Build Your Credit Without a Credit Card – with Whitney Hansen

Without the right discipline, credit cards can cripple our ability to build our cash savings, our retirement savings and our overall wealth. It’s so easy to swipe that little piece of plastic without even thinking twice about how much money we actually have in our checking account.

My guest today, Whitney Hansen, has developed a business that helps people battle the temptations of the all-powerful credit card. After becoming completely debt free early in her life, she now supports others in doing the same.  For most people, that journey to debt freedom starts with their relationship with credit.

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Is Debt Freedom Impossible in a High Cost of Living Area?

This week’s question comes from Michelle in response to an article I wrote about paying off our mortgage early:


MICHELLE:

Hi Andy,

I find myself in a unique position.  I understand the steps you’ve outlined in your mortgage pay off article. I’ve read a few books on that process by Dave Ramsey.  

What advice would you give to someone who lives in a very high cost area?  

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How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early in 10 Not-So-Easy Steps

In late 2017, we paid off the $195,000 mortgage on our dream home. After 4 years of focus and partnership with my wife Nicole, we’re now completely debt free and thrilled about the future ahead of us.

To help our two young children remember this family tree-changing moment in our lives, we decided to celebrate with them. Instead of just burning the mortgage and tipping back a few glasses of champagne (which we did too), we came up with a few unique ideas of our own like running through a “Mortgage Wall” and whacking a “Mortgage Piñata”!  

The kids had a blast and so did we. This was a moment we wanted our kids to remember. It was the day we decided that our family was going to become debt free for life.

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How Debt Freedom and Side Hustling Provides You More Family Time – with Vincent Pugliese

Complete debt freedom can allow you to do amazing things. You can pursue your passions, you can craft the direction of your day and spend more time with the ones you love.

Our guest today, Vincent Pugliese is the walking, talking proof of what complete debt freedom can do for your life.

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Avoid Holiday Debt Next Year With a Sinking Fund

Christmas is a time for fun, family and giving. Unfortunately for some, the spending associated with this joyous time of year was bought on credit.

According to Magnify Money, this past season Americans with holiday debt added $986 in debt on average and the pay off may not be until the next Christmas! The author of the article Nick Clements writes, “55% plan to take more than 5 months (to pay off the debt) or just make the minimum payments, which could extend the debt to 10 years or more.”

If we’re still paying off debt from last year’s Christmas, how can we enjoy this year’s Christmas?!

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