By Spc. Sophia R. Lopez
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – "I spoke to another Soldier who was kind of new in the Army, who was way overdrawn, and his bank had called. He said, 'First sergeant, I can't be over drawn, I still have checks,'" said a former Army first sergeant about one Soldier's financial situation. Many Soldiers are uneducated when it comes to good financial principles. This is where Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University can help.
FPU is a tool to help military members strategically and effectively remove debt and save for their futures. FPU trains thousands of U.S. service members every year with its informative video-driven courses. It provides a sound financial plan during activation, deployment, temporary duty or permanent change of station.
"It is important to offer this course to service members because sound financial principles are readiness issues," said Chaplain Capt. Mike Jones, the Division Special Troops Battalion chaplain for 10th Mountain Division.
The program covers areas of personal finance, such as budgeting, paying-off debt, saving for emergencies and retirement, and giving to worthy causes. It also discusses cash flow planning, real estate and school loans to name a few.
The course is 13 weeks long and free to military members. On the outside, this course would cost a person approximately $150. The course starts Dec. 12 with two classes, one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 7 p.m. to accommodate Soldiers' differing schedules. Each class is approximately one hour 40 minutes.
Chaplain Maj. Paul Ramsey, the deputy division chaplain, led the course at Fort Drum, N.Y. He and Jones will lead the course on Camp Victory through DVDs and offer a forum for group discussion and activities to help Soldiers connect and help each other keep accountable for the program.
Soldiers that may be out on missions, on leave or redeploying early while the course is going on can talk to the chaplains to reschedule classes. Eighty course kits and seats are available; married couples will receive one kit. Another course is scheduled to start in February.
Those who enroll in FPU receive a kit that includes the DVD sessions instructed by program creator, Dave Ramsey, his financial peace book, a workbook and financial snapshot worksheet which monitors progress quarterly. It also includes Dave Ramsey's envelope system to help service members better manage their budget; two CDs, a preview CD to pass on to others and one containing financial forms that will assist their plan; business card-sized tip calculator with the seven financial steps or tips on the back.
Members will have access to an online support system in which changes in life can be accommodated to fit each person's plan. This course offers a lifetime membership.
This course has been specially designed for service members to aid in battle readiness.
"What we're finding as we are interacting with the military and teaching people in the military about money is that this money issue is becoming a readiness issue," said Dave Ramsey. "We can put on the military face; we can be battle ready; but when back home, [credit] cards are racking at mom or racking at dad or where the house is in foreclosure, it's a major problem. We're going to come alongside and continue to come alongside the military families as best we can in a very unique, very targeted, very specific way," he said.
According to the Military Family Research Institute, 56 percent of enlisted service members report difficulty with their finances, and 47 percent say they are in "over their head" with their expenses.
In Seapower, June 2006, it was reported that financial difficulties are the number one reason Sailors lose their security clearance. Financial difficulties can revoke or deny security clearances throughout all the services.
Unfortunately, many service members don't know how to rectify their situations or are being taken advantage of by businesses offering loans or quick fix solutions.
"This [course] is a tool that assists you to secure you financially for your future," said Paul Ramsey. "There are all too many predators out there waiting to take whatever money you [have]."