FPU: I Get to See What All the Fuss Is About!

Tomorrow I am starting a 9-week commitment to help my church administer Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class – having never gone through the course myself!  My role is as a “table host” so I’m not actually the coordinator (thank goodness!) and as I’ve been a fan of DR’s for some time (as a radio personality, not so much as a financial advisor) and am very familiar with his philosophy so I think I’ll be able to get through it all right.


You might remember that last year I began to get involved with the financial care ministry at my church, which involved one-on-one coaching.  Well, their program is constantly evolving and the best way to be involved at the moment is to be a table host for FPU and hope that some more coaching opportunities come up through or after the course.


Anyway, I guess it’s a bit strange that I know so much about DR’s program and teaching from listening to his daily podcast for about a year and a half now but I’ve never actually experienced the product his whole business is based on.  But now that oversight will be corrected and I’ll get to see his famous DVDs.


As for the fact that we are not following Dave’s plan – nor do I think it’s the be all and end all of financial plans for many people – I’ve made that clear to the people in charge of the course and they are perfectly okay with me participating.  They are promoting DR’s baby steps but aren’t as rigid in their application as DR is, which I find reasonable.  I think the baby steps alone are okay, actually, although I would blur the lines between them a bit (don’t leave that workplace retirement match on the table!) and wouldn’t carry them out exactly the same way (debt avalanche and his investing advice generally).  So I’m pretty comfortable with helping the class members along with Dave’s program – that’s what they’re coming for, after all.


One funny thing about the course is that as of last week there were 28 registrants and 11 table hosts!  That is a much higher ratio of hosts to participants than I was expecting, but there is a good chance there will be last-minute registrations.  If we don’t add too many more tables, there will be two hosts per table.  We’re going to keep the same tables as much as possible throughout the whole course so I have to give some though to which host I want to be paired with.  I haven’t met them yet so I’m not sure, but I’m guessing I might be the youngest/least experienced table host.


We had some discussion about whether to assign people to tables and if it is more advantageous to have tables composed of people at very similar or very different life stages/balance sheets.  The hosts who had coordinated in the past largely advocated for diverse table groups that are spontaneously formed (not likely to happen IMO), but said that once in the past there was a complaint about that from an older couple who was grouped with all 20-somethings.  I would venture that less advanced people can benefit either way – from their peers or their “elders” – but that more advanced people probably only benefit from being grouped with their peers.  But it seems that we will try to mix up the demographics of the people at each table.


grandpa and babyUnless I somehow end up at a table of all fresh college grads, I think I’ll want to be paired with another table host with more life experience.  Thanks to the blogosphere I am passingly (or maybe even adequately) familiar with many aspects of personal finance, but I don’t think that substitutes for real-life experience, such as home ownership and raising children.  I am a little apprehensive about being perceived as a PF novice because of my age and life stage (um, still in school… prolonged adultescence anyone?), but I think going on two years of blogging about PF and six years of serious budgeting should give me a bit of authority.


Have you ever coordinated or participated in FPU or another personal finance class and if so how was your experience?  As part of a class like this, do you think it would be better to be at a table with people at your same stage or at a diverse table?  Do you believe you’re more knowledgeable about PF than you appear because of reading PF blogs?


photo from Free Digital Photos


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21 Responses to "FPU: I Get to See What All the Fuss Is About!"

  1. Can’t say that I have ever had the chance to do anything like that. I’ve sat at a couple tables at fairs handing out brochures for groups I’ve been associated with, but nothing that ever involved me be saying anything other than how great the group is.

    But the frugal philosophist in me loves that you are getting to see Ramsey’s program for free.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Do Pedestrians Have to Obey Traffic Laws?

    1. Emily says:

      Oh, I forgot to mention that part! Not totally for free – I have to pay for my book, for $30. 🙁 I was kinda mad when I found out about that, but I decided to take the money for it from our charitable giving account (since buying the book will enable me to give my time).

  2. We did the home study course of FPU a couple years ago. I think it’s a pretty solid course and would be a lifesaver for the average consumer. Like you, there are areas in which we deviate from Dave’s advice (mostly, his 100% growth stock mutual fund asset allocation, active investing, use of ELPs) but that’s to be expected. It’d be weird if anyone’s advice fit our approach 100%

    God bless you for helping people like that and I’m positive your experience as a blogger will make you one of the most truly experienced volunteers there.
    Done by Forty recently posted..Football, Losing, & Bad Behavior

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! We’ll see! I’m also a bit worried about being able to relate to the people taking the course. The people in the PF blogosphere are weirdos, you know?

  3. I have not done his FPU, but I also don’t have any plans to. I think it can certainly help many people, but there are things that I am not a fan of that he advocates. I think you should have a great time.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..The 4 Bookkeeping Mistakes That Can Kill Your Small Business

    1. Emily says:

      I think I can hold both positions – having a good time while not agreeing with everything!

  4. Matt Becker says:

    I’ve never participated in FPU in any way, but I’ve definitely heard a number of the success stories. I think you’re selling yourself short and you’ll do an excellent job. I don’t think that people are looking for someone to perform miracles for them, just someone who can help them make thoughtful decisions going forward. You’ll be great.
    Matt Becker recently posted..Buying a Car: How to Negotiate With the Dealers

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! Certainly all the “work” of the program is on the individuals – you are right that my job is just to facilitate the discussions!

  5. David W says:

    I was table coordinator a few years ago, and it was an interesting experience. I was one of the youngest people at the table, but surprisingly out of all the other (~10) people at my table I would say only one other person had a good grasp on personal finance. There were a lot of middle aged people, many of whom had never made a budget, one I remember had never even contributed to retirement savings accounts and wanted to now that their kids were in college.

    Talking to the other table coordinators, I don’t think there was much correlation in the 200 or so people there between age and financial savvy. Personally I was glad to be at a table with some older people as well as younger. It was enlightening to hear about some of the reasons people in their 50s and older had never taken their finances seriously and were just now starting to. It must have been tough for them to tell about some of their financial issues to a bunch of strangers, especially when some 28 year old kid was directing the discussion.

    I personally didn’t have anyone that looked down on me because of my age, probably helped that I had clearly budgeted before and had paid off all my debts ahead of the class. That in itself seemed to give me a little credibility. Really though, the table coordinator job was to keep people on task, not so much give answers. I had to make a conscious effort to get other people to respond to questions and keep everyone involved. Definitely a worthwhile experience, but I agree that Dave is a bit too rigid in his methods for me. For the people who had never heard it before though and were in a financial mess, I think the baby steps are a good starting point.
    David W recently posted..Homemade Laundry Soap

    1. Emily says:

      Thank you SO MUCH for your comment! I feel so encouraged going into this first meeting! You are right – I have been budgeting for 6 years and that is quite a long time, really. We are also debt-free and saving aggressively. Thanks for the tip about keeping people on track – I think I can help with that.

  6. Krista says:

    I love the set up of table hosts with a main facilitator. My husband and I went through the program a couple years ago just with the video series and a couple friends but I think having someone else alongside us who could’ve answered our more technical questions would have helped us out significantly. We might steal this for our church FPU program… thanks!
    Krista recently posted..How to Save Big on Your Cell Phone Bill!

    1. Emily says:

      We had 70-80 people present last night and 10 table hosts – I think they are really needed with a group that size! I’m interested to know what kind of technical questions you would have asked.

  7. […] started my FPU table hosting on Tuesday and it went well, I think.  I picked a table of people who looked to be around my age. […]

  8. […] watching week 1 of the FPU videos last week on “super saving,” my thoughts were on that 3-6 month emergency fund.  We’ve had $1,000 set […]

  9. […] coordinator book, so I paid for it out of this account.  The justification is that I need it to give my time to the class. […]

  10. […] FPU: I Get to See What All the Fuss Is About! was featured in the Yakezie Carnival. […]

  11. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes FPU: I Get to See What All the Fuss Is About! – I am serving as a table host for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, but I […]

  12. […] that I have been through Financial Peace University, read The Total Money Makeover, and listened to The Dave Ramsey Show for a couple years, I have a […]

  13. […] be successful with their finances, by whatever metrics they use to define success.  That’s why I participated in FPU last fall and I’m serving as a financial coach through my church.  I’m particularly passionate about PhD […]

  14. […] undergraduates who are putting on some PF-related seminars for their peers.  I also volunteered to serve as a table host at Financial Peace University again and to head up the one-on-one financial coaching portion of my church’s financial […]

  15. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes FPU: I Get to See What All the Fuss Is About! – I am serving as a table host for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, but I […]

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