The new and improved Financial Peace University

Several years ago my wife and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It was a life changing event for us. By following the things we learned there we were able to pay off about $43,000 in debt over the course of 3 years. This was especially important since I was laid off from my job of 21 years just 3 months after we paid that last debt. I spent 8 months searching for my current position. Those 8 months would have been so much more stressful had we still been under the burden of debt.

Seeing how that course changed our lives for the better is largely what has given me the passion to try to help others find the same financial peace we have found. That’s why I write this blog. It’s also why I have taken the opportunity to lead several sessions of Financial Peace University. It has been a privilege to do this. There is nothing like seeing the light of hope come alive in people who entered the class wondering how they would make it.

A new Financial Peace University

About a month ago I received an announcement that for the first time in about 4 years Dave’s team was completely redoing FPU. I believe the current version of FPU was released some time in 2008. Frankly, this has been one of the problems I have seen in leading FPU. Particularly, when it comes to Dave’s views on investing, people are skeptical with some of the examples Dave uses. Sure that may have been true before the Great Recession, but things are different now.  Based on the message Dave continues to present on his show, I don’t think we’ll see the overall message of FPU change very much. I think it will be much more impactful though knowing that the message is coming post-2008.

So when I heard that there was going to be a new version of FPU coming I expected that meant the videos had been re-done with updated examples and stories. The official announcement for the new version was the first week of June. I watched the announcement and was really surprised. It is more than just a re-work of the existing program. It is a complete re-design.

So what’s different

 Now a 9 week program

First, the biggest change is FPU will now be a 9 week program instead of the old 13 week program. Additionally, each week is now based on a 90 minute agenda instead of 2 hours. Families are busier than ever these days, and Dave’s organization felt that it was getting increasingly difficult to get families to make a 13 week commitment. This should help that. Additionally, the 90 minute format will fit more easily into church schedules if churches wish to incorporate the class into their Sunday or Wednesday programming.

Greater emphasis on the zero based budget

The budget will now be a central component of all the lessons. In the years the Ramsey organization has promoted Financial Peace, they have found that one of the common denominators in people who succeed at getting out of debt was that they did the zero-based budget and stuck to it. Therefore, the new version will place a much more central focus on doing the budget.

Still have the 7 Baby Steps

The 7 Baby Steps are still the core of Financial Peace. That has not changed.

Focus on Behavior change

Dave always says that personal finance is far more about behavior than it is about math. To that end there will be more emphasis on behavior change. This will be a focus of the small group time. Additionally there will be more case studies in the small group time to help encourage behavior change.

New speakers

Another major change is that it won’t be solely Dave speaking. Three other speakers from his team will be helping with some of the lessons. Dave’s daughter, Rachel Cruze, Jon Acuff, and Chris Hogan will all be helping Dave teach some of the lessons. I have heard all three of them speak before and this will be a great addition. They will each bring something unique and exciting to FPU.

Even more emphasis on scripture

There will be an even greater emphasis on scripture throughout. My understanding is it will not be in a Bible thumping way that would turn off your non-Christian friends who might want to attend, but it will be clearly woven throughout the teaching.

What are the 9 sessions?

So if you are a previous FPU attendee you are probably wondering how they got from 13 sessions to 9 sessions.

Here are the sessions from the 9 weeks:

  • Week 1 – Super Savers
  • Week 2 – Relating with Money
  • Week 3 – Cash Flow Planning
  • Week 4 – Dumping Debt
  • Week 5 – Buyer Beware
  • Week 6 – The Role Of Insurance
  • Week 7 – Retirement and College Planning
  • Week 8 – Real Estate and Mortgages
  • Week 9  – The Great Misunderstanding

Additionally there will be 2 lessons available to watch online – Credit Sharks in Suits and That’s Not Good Enough.

I suspect that the old Of Mice and Mutual Funds has been combined into Retirement and College Planning. The one lesson that seems to be missing is Working Your Strengths. Perhaps that material has been worked into one of the other lessons, but I’m not sure where. It would be a shame if that material was cut altogether. My classes always seemed to get a lot out of that lesson and it sparked some good discussions.

So when is all this happening?

My understanding is that the new version of the class will be available this fall and you will start to see classes in that format soon.

Remember if you have graduated from FPU, you have a lifetime membership. So if you’d like to check the new version of the class you can sign up for a session anywhere and take it for free. I assume you would have to pay if you want to purchase the new membership kit, but if you want to use your old materials you could go for free.

I’m excited about the new offering. I think these changes will make a good thing even better. I haven’t had a chance to preview any of the new videos yet. I am looking forward to doing so.

If you have never taken Financial Peace University I would strongly encourage it. If you follow the stuff Dave teaches it can be life changing. It was for me and my family. You can find class offerings in your area by going to:

http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/

If you have taken FPU what was the one thing that most made a difference in your life? Leave a comment to encourage those who have never taken it!

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.