Years ago, I read Dave Ramsey’s First Book, Financial Peace.

I began to follow his advice.

Then I made a foolish financial mistake.  I became a teacher in a private school.

Disaster followed.  Eventually, my wife and I went through foreclosure.  We ended up living with her parents for several years.  This was the low point for me financially.  And, for a guy, this low financial point turned into a “low almost everything else point.”

In order to have our own place, we bought a 2 bedroom, 900 square foot condo.  We lived there for seven years.  For seven years, my wife and I pulled a mattress out each evening and we slept on the living room floor.  Our five children slept in the 2 bedrooms.

It was during this time that I started rising early.  Inspired by Douglass Southall Freeman, I initially set my alarm for 2:20 every morning.  This is from Wikipedia:

“Freeman’s work ethic was legendary. Throughout his life, he kept a demanding schedule that allowed him to accomplish a great deal in his two full-time careers, as a journalist, and as a historian. When at home, he rose at three every morning and drove to his newspaper office, saluting Robert E. Lee’s monument on Monument Avenue as he passed. Twice daily, he walked to a nearby radio studio, where he gave news broadcasts and discussed the day’s news. After his second broadcast, he would drive home for a short nap and lunch and then worked another five or six hours on his current historical project, with classical music, frequently the work of Joseph Haydn, playing in the background.[6][8]

The entry is wrong.  He set his alarm for 2:20 every morning.

For a while, I did the same.  Then I fell asleep driving and totaled my car.  So, I scaled back.  These days, my alarm goes off at 3:30 every morning.  And, I do take a short afternoon nap every day.

By the way, this is not for everyone.  I actually do not recommend it.  I do recommend rising early.   Just not that early. If you learn to rise early, you will be astonished by what you are able to accomplish.

As we slowly began to recover from our financial meltdown, I returned again to Dave Ramsey’s book.

My wife and I were extremely frugal.  We cut all of our expenses.  Drastically.  Eventually, we had no other expenses to cut.

I was still teaching, and we were still struggling.   Then I came across the following quote.  Susan Fujii, in Kung-Fu Finance, wrote:

“You have much more opportunity to earn more money than you do to ‘not spend’ money, and yet most people spend hours upon hours clipping coupons and perusing daily deal sites instead of brainstorming how to earn more money and solve people’s problems.”

This became another turning point.  I decided that we had cut enough.  There was nothing left to cut.  You can cut expenses and cut expenses.  But, eventually, you are going to reach bone.  Then what?

It was time to earn more.  I started taking extra jobs.  But, I was very specific.  I would only take jobs that would allow me to study.  I would only take jobs that would allow me to listen to audio books and podcasts while I was working.

So, I delivered pizzas, cleaned pools, and painted.  While working, I listened to audiobooks.  I only listened to two types of materials.  I listened to language learning books and podcasts.   And, I listened to finance books and podcasts.

I vowed to stop only when we were financially free.  It took about 10 years.

Now, my children are all teenagers.  Well, all but one.

I don’t want them to repeat the same mistakes.  Financial strain almost destroyed my marriage.  I don’t want that for them.

I have enrolled my entire family in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  The course is sponsored by a local church (Church of the City) here in Franklin, Tennessee.

We have enjoyed the class.  For me, it has been a good reminder of my own history.  It has reminded me of what my wife and I were able to overcome.  But, it has also reminded me that there is still work ahead.

Check around.  Find out if a local organization in your town is offering Financial Peace University.

If you are a student, join.  It will prepare you for life.  THIS is the education you need.  Don’t expect this type of education from school.  School is a hoop we must all jump through.  It is not much else.  I say this as a veteran.  I have been in the classroom for 20 years.

If you are a parent, join.  Take your kids.  Give them an education they can use.

If you can’t afford a class, buy one of Dave’s books.  You will not regret it.