Financial Peace University is a program at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, 7300 W. Division St., which will begin this evening, Sept. 17, at 6:45 p.m.  

Dave Ramsey who created the Financial Peace University curriculum states on his website, “Financial Peace University presents biblical, practical steps to get from where you are to where you’ve dreamed you could be.  This plan will show you how to get rid of debt, manage your money, spend and save wisely, and much more!”

Kathryn Jandeska, a Grace member since 1972 and the leader of the course with her husband, said that many people find that the stress caused by not knowing how to manage their finances makes them feel like money is ruling them instead of the other way around.  She said that Ramsey’s program lays out a sequential seven step program to get in charge of your finances.

1 $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund

2 Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball

3 Set aside 6 months of expenses in savings

4 Invest 15 percent of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

5 College funding for children

6 Pay off home early

7 Build wealth and give!

Ramsey calls each step a baby step.  Jandeska emphasized that they build on each other and above all that they work.  When they offered the program for the first time at Grace last spring, 21 households signed up.  They discovered, via anonymous reporting, that taken together the participants were burdened with nearly half a million dollars in non-mortgage debt and that they had a total of 65 open credit card accounts.  By the end of the nine week course, they had already paid off a total of $26,135 in non-mortgage debt, saved $27,410 and closed or cut up 28 credit cards.

“By following the seven ‘baby steps’,” said Jandeska, “you get a handle on what you’ve got and how you can make it work for you.”  She said that the course helps participants discover first, exactly how they spend their money and then gives them tools—disciplines really—which hold them accountable and keep them on the path to financial peace and security.  

Fred [not his real name because confidentiality is important in the program] was in the first Financial Peace University held at Grace last spring.  “My partner and I are early in our careers and family life, this seemed like an opportunity to build a strong foundation.  We were not riddled with debt, but we certainly had our share of loans and credit card debt.  Being a Christian, I was interested in approaching this through a faith lens and faith community.  

“One of the biggest things I got out of the program was a much greater understanding of how much money you can save and earn by minimizing debt, allowing even “average” wage earners to retire fairly well, and equally important to give philanthropically.  I would say the other key takeaways were simply tools that help to build a monthly budget and pay down debt, and then the values formation that encourages you to follow through in order to use your money in better ways.”

Jandeska said she got interested in the Financial Peace University because she is a member of the stewardship committee at Grace where they had been talking about what makes people generous.  “It then occurred to me,” she said, “that people would like to be generous, but they absolutely didn’t have enough money to be generous.  About the same time, I heard of this class called Financial Peace University and I convinced my husband to go with me to the classes being offered at Calvary Church.  While leaving Calvary after the second class he said to me, ‘You know we’re going to have to be teachers of this at Grace.'”

Lest readers think that a course being offered at a church in River Forest is only for the affluent, Jandeska said that it’s not just people with a lot of money.  “In fact,” she added, “the less money you have the more important it is to manage it, to know where every dollar is going.”

To register call the Grace Lutheran Church office at 708-366-6900.  When you arrive, enter the building via the Bonnie Brae doors.