By Barb Arland-Fye
MOUNT PLEASANT — St. Alphonsus Parish is hosting a 13-week program called Financial Peace University that aims to help families eliminate debt and enhance their relationships in the process.
Twenty-one households in the Mount Pleasant parish are participating in the program, a video-based curriculum led by financial expert Dave Ramsey. The church program of Financial Peace University “incorporates small-group discussions to encourage accountability and discipleship,” according to dave ramsey.com Web site. It blends informational advice with humor and biblical messages.
“I think it’s fabulous. It has so many wonderful principles for money, but also for relationships,” says parishioner Margi Mountz, who is coordinating the parish’s program and also participating in it with her husband, Ted, a deacon candidate for the Diocese of Davenport.
The program addresses a plethora of financial aspects: saving money, relating with money, cash flow planning, eliminating debt, credit issues, purchasing, investment management, working in your strengths, planning for your children’s college education, insurance, bargain shopping, real estate and mortgages, improving finances, business and relationships.
“It gives you more insight into yourself,” Margi Mountz says.
Participants begin each Tuesday night session watching a video on a given topic, such as credit, and then break into small groups for discussion. They look up Bible verses that relate to the topic. “The Bible is very explicit and has a lot to say about money, if you start looking for it,” Mountz said.
The financial planning she and her husband are focused on is living on a fixed income. “Trying to live within our income and making sure we have something to live on for the rest of our lives,” she says.
“I think one of the most valuable things I’ve learned is that there really is a way you can become debt-free. I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel — where the house is completely paid off and there’s money in the bank.”
Other participants have expressed enthusiasm about the class, she noted. One couple who had initially been skeptical came up to her after class and said how excited they were about the program. St. Alphonsus is paying for half of the registration fee; the participants pay the rest. Because of a special deal the parish received, the participants pay just $25.
St. Alphonsus is more than halfway through the program, which meets every Tuesday night at the parish. “We’ll probably do this once a year,” Mountz said. “Now that it’s been introduced to the parish, I’m sure people are hearing about it and want to join in.”
She hopes to spread the word beyond her parish, too. “It’s an excellent program. I’d like to see other parishes in the diocese pick it up.”