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Dumping debt: Financial workshop planned

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Catherine W. Idzerda
September 4, 2008
— Some people rob Peter to pay Paul.

Others rob Peter and Paul to pay the Visa bill.


Wouldn’t it be nice if no one had to rob anyone and the Visa bill was a specialized kind of duck beak?


Starting Saturday, Sept. 13, local residents will have the chance to turn their financial lives around at “Financial Peace University.”


The 13-week program is designed to help ordinary people get out of debt and start saving. New Life Assembly of God is sponsoring the program, but it’s open to everyone, and classes will be held at the Lenan Learning Center, 4109 Capital Circle, Janesville.


Dave Ramsey, a former real estate magnate, developed the Financial Peace University program after making a million dollars and then losing it. He refers to it as a “rags to riches to rags” story.


Ramsey focuses on the basics, such as paying down debt, and also addresses the emotional issues that are often attached to money management.


“This is not a get-rich-quick class,” said the Rev. Todd Pope, of New Life Assembly of God. “But if you follow his rules, you will build wealth.”


You might even save your marriage.


“Money is generally one of the causes of marital problems; it’s right up there in the top three,” Pope said. “If you take that one off the board, you really up the success rate.”


Even if it isn’t a problem in your marriage—or if you’re joyfully single—it’s better to have control of your money rather than your money controlling you.


Pope has taken the class. A self-described “spender,” he said the class changed his money-management habits, converting him into a saver and even an investor.


Ramsey’s advice doesn’t always adhere to traditional money management notions.


For example, Ramsey advises people to:


-- Immediately work toward having $1,000 in an emergency fund. This comes before debt reduction.


“Most people use their credit card as emergency funds,” Pope said.


That $1,000 will cover the cost of minor crises such as car repairs.


-- Pay debts from smallest to largest. Most financial counselors advise starting with the debt with the highest interest rate.


“He wants people to get those wins quickly,” Pope explained.


When people see themselves making progress, it helps them see they can control their finances.


-- Be debt free, with the exception of a mortgage. Make every effort to pay your mortgage off early.


Debt free means paying for everything in cash or with debit cards. Even at Christmas time.


-- Make a budget. It’s obvious advice, but Ramsey’s class manages to convince people that it can be a powerful tool rather than unpleasant duty.


“He says, ‘A budget is telling your money where to go instead of you wondering where it went,’” Pope said.


IF YOU GO

What: Financial Peace University, a 13-week program to help people pay off debt and start saving.


When: First session is 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 13.


Where: Lenan Learning Center, 4109 Capital Circle, Janesville.


Cost: $100 Fee includes 13 CDs containing all the classes, a workbook and other materials.


For more information or to register: Contact Todd Pope at (608) 756-4175 or popetodd@nlag.net.



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