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Financial Peace classes focus on dollars and sense

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Columbus’ Shelli and Ross Carothers wanted their kids to see a recent Christmas season transaction: buying a late-model, used Honda Odyssey. With cash.

Shelli said such a financial blessing, free from any debt, came as a result of practicing principles from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class she and Ross have taught several times at Columbus’ St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

The pair will again teach the class, which moved from St. Peter’s to a meeting room at Jewell-Rittman Funeral Home to attract some non-churchgoers, beginning Jan. 19. It’s one of several offered by local churches in January and February, according to The cost is $89. Financial assistance is available for those who need it.

“We believe that right after the holidays is an excellent time to do this,” Shelli said. “It’s a time when some people look at their Christmas spending and say, ‘Oh my gosh — what have I done?’”

Shelli acknowledged that her family had to learn such principles themselves. She said the toughest challenge for her and her spouse was learning to look at money with more restraint. For instance, the class taught them to stop and discuss almost any purchase more than $40, including gifts for one other.

“It can be a really nice gift and nice thought, but those can add up,” she said. “There are a lot of gifts you can be creative about that don’t cost much.”

The nine-week, DVD-oriented course aims to help participants learn to budget, destroy debt, save, invest and have enough to give to charity.

The average family pays off $5,300 worth of debt in the first 90 days after completing Financial Peace University, according to figures at

Ramsey developed his course after dealing with his own personal financial struggle. At the age of 26, he was earning $250,000 per year, but growing debt because of his spending habits caused him to lose everything.

After bouncing back through success in the real estate industry, Ramsey began helping others find their way out of debt and financial heartache 20 years ago.

“Every time we teach this class,” Carothers said, “we pick up something else new.”

Financial Peace national organizers have reduced the course from its original 13-week span to nine. And two-hour weekly sessions have been cut to 90 minutes.

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