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Posted: February 6, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Finding financial peace

Program addresses financial struggles using Biblical principles

Mandi Singer/

Working it out: Eastridge Community Church Elder Greg Herring, left, and Lead Pastor Scott Moore co-teach Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University weekly at the local church.

According to Dave Ramsey — a nationally recognized radio personality and New York Times best-selling author of "The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace" and "More Than Enough" — approximately seven out of every 10 families in churches and communities are living paycheck to paycheck. While some are doing well and simply need to be taught the Biblical principles for handling money God’s way, many are secretly struggling to make ends meet. Others are drowning in a sea of mortgage payments, car payments, student loans and credit card debt. Many people have not been taught God’s plan for their finances, he said.

Eastridge Community Church is offering the Financial Peace University, a 13-week video program by Ramsey, that encourages people to make the right decisions with their money.

The Rev. Scott Moore, senior pastor of Eastridge Community Church, took the FPU class five years ago led by Greg Herring.

"I was the average person that Dave Ramsey talks about," admitted Moore who like many others graduated college with student loans and credit card debt. "Immediately, I had a plan with my money. I was telling my money what to do, instead of it telling me what I was going to do. Working the steps has brought incredible peace to me. When you start being a better steward of your money, God opens doors."

Herring and Moore are currently co-teaching the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace program on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. to 56 people made up of young and middle-aged couples, singles and seniors hoping to retire.

The program incorporates small-group discussions to encourage accountability and discipleship. FPU teaches steps to manage finances — how to pay off your debt, save and stay on track.

Moore continues to follow the seven "Baby Steps" and keeps a list of them in his wallet as a reminder of his lifestyle change. The steps include $1,000 to start an emergency fund, paying off all debt using the Debt Snowball that advises paying off the smallest debts first, three to six months of expenses in savings; investing 15 percent of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement, starting a college fund for children, paying off home mortgages early, building wealth and giving and investing in mutual funds and real estate.

People often come to the class looking for a quick fix. Moore and Herring remind them that they didn’t arrive at this situation over night and they must allow time to apply the principles. They talk about the peace that comes at the end of the day — knowing what you are going to do tomorrow, in six months, or in a year from now having your finances under control.

Herring added that most people have the heart to give and help others, but the problem is they don’t have the means. Once they follow a Biblically based plan and pay their debt off, the ability to help and give is there, he added.

Spiritual growth is another advantage of taking the class. Moore said Ramsey uses scripture in every lesson. One of the key verses is from Proverbs 22:7, "The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender" (NLT).

One of the many benefits of applying the FPU principles is building a stronger marriage. Couples learn how to communicate about money, budgeting, spending, saving and think similarly about their finances.

Moore said sometimes one spouse just needs inspiration to start. He encourages people to read "The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace," which contains the testimonies of how people in debt worked the steps and resolved their money troubles.

"The number one reason people divorce is over money," said Moore sadly of some of the couples who come in for counseling.

Couples who aren’t on the same track in managing their finances are referred to by Ramsey as the "Nerd and Free Spirit."

"You may have two personalities in the house — one that is very administrative minded, understanding facts and numbers, and you have the free spirit, who cares, but managing money is just not their thing," explained Herring. "By bringing the two personalities together, they begin to look at the issues and have healthy confrontations as they address their financial situation."

Another scenario may be where only the husband or wife attends. Herring said this too can be a positive if that person will go home and work slowly with their mate to introduce the principles.

Herring recommends teaching the FPU principles early in life — learning to plan and save for the future and understanding the power of compound interest.

"My father taught me the value of hard work and I have tried to do the same with my kids," Herring said. "There is no reason for any young person to retire less than a millionaire. It takes very little money if you start early."

Mark Poole will lead Ramsey’s five-week program for high school students called "Generation Change" beginning March 4. It is a condensed overview of the Dave Ramsey principles. Youth Pastor Greg Miller hopes to see students become better stewards of their money and resources and not make mistakes — but rather make wise decisions and reap the benefits. The $20 fee covers the cost of the booklet. To register, contact Miller at greg@eccmail.org.

Herring said that finances are 90 percent behavior. He recommends doing what our grandfathers did — if you want something, you save for it.

Moore added, "If we can stop the behavior before they go off to college, we will have a group of individuals in the church that can go out and help this hurting world."

Eastridge Community Church has plans to offer FPU to the community again later this year.

Located at 863 Highway 142 East in Covington, ECC’s motto is Loving God, Loving People, and Serving Others. Call 770-786-2048 or visit www.eastridgefamily.org for services and programs. For more information on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, visit www.daveramsey.com.

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