financial peace university: saying yes to sacrifice

Yesterday was Saturday in our house of four little kids. One of them is pretty darn sick with pink eye and a cough. We needed to drive him 20 minutes to our amazing pediatrician who keeps limited weekend hours, then get to the pharmacy to get his prescription.

We also had to brave Costco (on a Saturday...  save me) to buy approximately 90,000 lbs of fresh produce for our Eat to Live meals, plus some snacks for our Financial Peace University class. Then to Trader Joe's too for cereal, sprouted bread and cashew butter. One kid had a soccer class in the afternoon, plus the little kids need naps, and the eight weekly laundry loads weren't going to wash themselves. Gonzaga played in the tournament at 5pm, so life had to stop for a couple of hours. Ha :)

That was Saturday, and it all had to get done on Saturday, because Sunday looms large on our horizon for the next two months: it's our FPU day.

For about three hours for nine Sundays in a row, Sean and I are at our parish church, setting up chairs and the projector for FPU, prepping our announcements and homework for the class, welcoming the guests, running discussion groups, playing the video and praying all the equipment works without a glitch (which never happens).

Then we do it all in reverse, returning our parish hall to the way we found it, and eventually coming home to our kids, who have been babysat either by a our sweet college student babysitter (whom we pay) or by my wonderful parents.

It's a lot. It's hard. And it's so, so very much worth it.

After teaching our first FPU class at our parish (this is our second), two of the attendees wrote us this thank you note. Reading it, I cried. Never before had I realized that my own journey with FPU would have such a positive impact on others.

Three years ago, Sean was asking me, for the umpteenth time, to watch FPU with him.

No, I had told him, many times. I won't do it. Agreeing to watch it is the equivalent of agreeing that I am the problem in our finances. No. We had become that classic couple Dave describes in the first or second FPU video: the words "Dave Ramsey" had become curse words.

But then, I wanted something, something pretty big--a new house. Sean and I were at odds with this move because the financial side of it, he felt, was iffy. After a few weeks of considering it, he came to me with this bargain: If I agreed to watch Financial Peace with him, he'd make the move happen.

SOUNDS GOOD TO ME!! I practically screamed it. If watching a measly nine videos on how I was messing up our budget would help get me to this new home, then count me in.

Well. From the first video, I knew this was no mere measly video series. Ramsey spoke truths about relationships and marriage. Discipline and discipleship. Money and budgets and stewardship--a.k.a tithing. These were things I had thought about peripherally, but never really considered concretely.

As Dave says: Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. THEY'RE BROKE.

I think it's in the second video of the series that Dave talks about people who would come to him after listening to his radio show or taking one of his in-person classes, before he became a nationwide personality. People would come up to him and thank him for saving their marriage. And he thought, what?!? We were talking about money, not your marriage!

But it's true. What's the biggest reason cited for divorce? It's not infidelity or religion. It's disagreements and stress stemming from money.

Sean and I weren't anywhere close to that kind of ruin, but we were miles apart when it came to money. Since our marriage had begun, he had "handled" the money and the budget. And though he often came to me asking for my input, the sight of his 3-tab budget spreadsheets in Excel made my eyes cross.

He got excited about numbers doing things in coded equations with compound interest. I got excited by grocery coupons and sales at my favorite consignment store.

We both wanted to save money and achieve far-off goals, but we had no common language with which to talk about it.

Enter FPU. All of a sudden, there's Dave Ramsey on his stage, telling me that my input in the budget is not just valuable, it's INTEGRAL to making a budget in a marriage. And there he is, telling Sean that his wife can only handle 17 minutes a month of budget-related talk a month, lest her body still be in her room, but her spirit will have departed. (True.)

The whole deal was nothing short of a revelation to us both. And ever since then, money hasn't been exactly easy--but it certainly has been easier. Being able to talk about money with your spouse, free of shame, free of embarrassment and free of guilt is a crucial intimacy they don't mention in that Pre-Cana marriage prep. But it's vitally important.

Discipline and vigilance with money, tracking where it's going and why, and aiming toward shared goals... take out the "money" and fill in with "fertility" and it sounds a little like NFP and charting, to me. I've already said this here before, but I'll say it again: The hard work is worth it.

Living authentically, free from debt, free from contraceptives, free from junk food. It's worth it.

Saying "yes" to a budget has yielded such fruits for us. Saying "yes" to all these babies in our house, too, has been a blessing. It's a sacrifice, yes. But my faith is built upon Jesus' sacrifice, and my hope of salvation rests on it too.

"At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)  That scripture is oft-heard in FPU, and for good reason. The sacrifice and discipline of a budget, or of raising kids, or of doing any good work can cause some pain, some pruning of our own desires and egos.

But it brings peace.

And that's invaluable.

A little disclaimer to say that this is not a sponsored post, nor do Sean and I (and all the other FPU coordinators) make any sort of commission or profit from coordinating FPU. In fact, we often purchase our own sets of FPU materials so that we can give them away to those with a severe need. We run this class because we believe, very deeply, that if God's people (and all people) were out of debt, amazing things would happen, both in our parishes and our communities. 

To find a FPU course in your area, click here.


  1. Go Zags, our world also stopped over the weekend and will again Thursday!

    1. It's MADNESS baby! Haha. My hubby and I are both Zags and when March begins you can tell in his head he's singing "it's the most wonderful time of the year...."

  2. Our habits and dreams have been recently transformed by Dave Ramsey. He is a miracle worker!

    Nice to meet you.


    1. Habits and dreams--that's an awesome and succinct way to put it. Nice to meet you too Catherine!