Become at ‘peace’ with finances
He had just retrieved his motorcycle from a nearby repair shop on Aug. 12 and was headed home when the accident occurred. He is now recovering from five fractured ribs as well as a fractured pelvis, putting him out of work for at least three months.
An accident is not something one can fully prepare for. While many would be overwhelmed with debt from accruing medical bills and the loss of income, finances happen to be the least of Smith’s worries.
He and his wife, Beth, are not millionaires. They are financial educators who facilitate a 13-week course at Fellowship Wesleyan Church in West Seneca. Among the topics they preach to others is how to save for an emergency, which is something the couple began doing three years ago when they first took the same program they now teach.
“The stress of the accident wasn’t compounded by the loss of income ... a big stress reliever for us,” Brian Smith said.
The couple, both in their early 50s, began as students of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. The program’s creator states on his website that he netted more than $1 million by age 26, eventually losing it all and filing for bankruptcy. He educated himself on how to get his life and finances back in order.
In 1992, he formed the Lampo Group, which counsels those with financial stress, and then wrote the book “Financial Peace.” He sold it out of his car before it became a best-seller.
Today, the Lampo Group’s mission statement is to provide a “biblically-based, common-sense education and empowerment” to the financially distressed. This is done through Financial Peace University.
Brian Smith first heard Ramsey talk about the program on TV and radio, and opted to take the course when he learned that it coincidentally was available through his place of worship, Fellowship Wesleyan.
The church is now one of about 15 throughout Western New York that will offer the course this fall.
Brian Smith said the program was especially appealing to him and his wife after building their new home in Marilla, near East Aurora.
“We had a lot on credit ... so we got serious about [paying it off] by taking the course. We pounded off our debt and started working on an emergency fund,” he said.
Fast forward to four weeks ago when those savings came in handy following his accident.
The Smith’s real-life experience is just one among the many they’ve heard throughout the years. On Sunday during a “preview night” at the church for the upcoming course, another couple shared their own success story: They paid off their $90,000 debt in 30 months.
“This is ‘grandma’s way’ of saving money — when grandparents or older generations wanted something, they had to save for it. Credit cards weren’t around, and the last few generations have gone crazy with credit card debt,” said Brian Smith.
“Most people who follow the program are debt-free with their consumer loans within 12-18 months,” he added.
Financial Peace University will be offered at 6:30 p.m. Sundays, beginning Sept. 25. Fellowship Wesleyan Church is located at 1645 Southwestern Blvd., West Seneca (across from the Southtowns Family YMCA branch).
Weekly topics of discussion include “cash flow planning,” “dumping debt,” “credit sharks in suits,” “buyer beware,” “from fruition to tuition,” and “real estate and mortgages.”
Brian Smith said the program is available to anyone in the community and open to people of all ages. He encourages those who are looking to pay off such debts as student loans or mortgages, in addition to those who would like to learn more about how to properly budget and save for such future funds as college tuition or retirement to attend the course.
A one-time fee is required and grants lifetime membership. This includes all required materials for the course and allows a participant’s family — spouse and children — to also take the class anywhere it’s offered and as many times as they’d like.
To register or for more information, call Fellowship Wesleyan at 675-9245 or visit online at www.daveramsey.com.