Becoming A Family With Financial Peace – Erika’s Story

There are two sides to every story. Here Nick and Erika share what taking Financial Peace University as a married couple meant to them.

Erika’s story

I graduated from college with a communications degree, shaky job prospects, and some vague knowledge of the principles of Financial Peace University. My church wasn’t running FPU at the time, but I did seek out a wise, financially responsible young couple to help coach me in the right direction. I learned enough to start a high yield savings account, opened a credit card only for emergencies, and never carried a balance. As I entered adulthood, I had a decent foundation of financial principles, but there was definitely room for improvement in my financial life. I wasn’t totally irresponsible, but I wasn’t “winning” with my money, either.

In our pursuit of financial freedom, as newlyweds in our mid-twenties, my husband Nick and I made some big sacrifices in our living situation and worked together to aggressively pay down school debt and became debt free within a year! Over the next five years, we saved up an emergency fund, but through multiple life challenges, including paying many unexpected healthcare costs and taxes, we always seemed to have to dip into that hard-earned E-fund and then work to rebuild it again. Sometimes it felt like we were treading water, unable to move forward.

This past winter, Nick came home one day not long after our son was born and said, “I think we should take FPU next semester.” Nick wanted to be prepared for the fall when all the Dinner Groups walked through the Be Rich series together. I had heard so many other FPU success stories and I knew the material was going to be great, but I was worried about diving into a complete remodel of our finances in the midst of an already ongoing remodel of our lives as new parents! Being squarely in the “fourth trimester” and still experiencing the overwhelm of having a newborn just a few months old, at first, I thought he was crazy. Could we really leave the house every week for nine weeks in a row when we were sleep deprived and living with the ever-shifting demands of a tiny baby?

However, I knew the reality of lack of focused financial momentum over the last few years, and I was halfway through my maternity leave and getting ready to head back to work full time. We were about to experience yet another shift in our new dynamic and season of life, so I knew starting from the beginning of it with a secure financial future was definitely the wisest choice. We got babysitters lined up and actually left the house together without the baby at least once a week, which ended up being a nice change of pace!

In FPU, Dave Ramsey talks about the fact that in every relationship, there tends to be a “nerd” and a “free spirit.” I consider myself maybe a rarer hybrid: the nerdy free spirit. I tend to see rules more as guidelines, but I don’t want to necessarily go so far out of the boundaries that I’ll face imminent danger. Though neither one of us was individually out of control with our spending, the best thing about taking the FPU course together was that it gave us common materials, language, and a community to lean on. We were able to clarify together what “Baby Step” we were truly on in the pursuit of total financial freedom, and make better informed decisions about what we should focus on next.

Hearing the stories of the other people in the group was just as valuable as the formal course material itself. It was inspiring to hear the goals they were setting and changes others were starting to make in their lives. In our group, we had young and more mature singles, newlyweds, couples who had been married for a while, and new parents like us. Each person brought a new challenge or perspective to the discussion and we were able to support and cheer each other on as we began to chase after our new goals with “gazelle intensity.”

While I never would have planned it this way, deciding to take FPU soon after we expanded our family was a great decision for us. Had we had the foresight, we would encourage any kid who is working through high school, any college student, or any newlyweds to take the official course sooner than later. It’s not enough to know the principles in theory, you have to create a plan and take actionable steps towards achieving those goals. Investing those nine weeks now, in what is hopefully still the first third of our lives, will have positive exponential impact on the financial futures of not only ourselves, but our children, our faith community, and the world around us.

Financial Peace University groups start September 9th. Sign up at BeRichHoboken.com

Read Nick’s side of the story here.

Erika is a Dinner Groups Coach and writer of all things, including her blog, Married in Mile Square City.

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