Class helps households find financial peace
Francis Rosal and his wife Shannon both had stable jobs, impeccable credit, and an active lifestyle, but after September 11, things changed and the Truckee couple found themselves unemployed and buried in debt for the first time.”We were living paycheck to paycheck,” Francis Rosal said. “We missed one payment and everything snowballed around us. It moved too quickly and we couldn’t get back on top of it.”The Rosal’s story is all too familiar in America today, where the average consumer debt is $9,200, according to Forbes.com, and where the national total has now topped $2 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. More Americans than ever are struggling to pay off credit cards, loans, mortgages, and the mounting interest accrued on those purchases. To help himself and others get back on their financial feet, Rosal began hosting a class called “Financial Peace University,” at Sierra Bible Church with a curriculum developed by national financial guru Dave Ramsey. The results were tremendous, according to Rosal who knocked down $58,000 worth of debt in 16 months. Now more than 100 Truckee residents are living fiscally healthier lives because of it.”My wife and I were not on the same page as far as finances go,” said Truckee resident Al Salas. “This class opened our eyes to understanding that in order for anything to happen, you both have to have the same goal.” In the two years since Salas and his wife, Sue, participated in the financial peace program, they have dropped close to $30,000 in debt.”We wanted to be debt free in five years, and I think we are going to reach that goal in three,” Salas said. The 12-week course, which will be offered again beginning in January, teaches participants how to make solid financial decisions, budget, plan, save, and invest through practical applications.”We always thought that we looked good on paper, but in reality we were paying a lot on interest and loans,” Truckee resident Paul Zarubin said of his household. “The class helped us determine what our long-range goals are and to establish retirement goals. In the first couple weeks of taking the class we were able to turn things around.”And, according to Rosal, the course works even better for people who aren’t in debt because they are able to head-off financial pit-falls, focus on smart investing, and begin saving for the future. “We had to dig ourselves out of the hole and now we are sitting on savings and funding our retirement,” Rosal said. “And it’s not like we hunker down and say that we can’t spend any money. We’re going on a vacation next week, and a cruise next year; we found a new way of doing things.”Check it OutThe 12-week “Financial Peace University” course will be held every Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. beginning January 12 at Sierra Bible Church across from the Best Western. $90 per household for workbook and materials.Debt by the numbers• Today roughly 24 percent of personal expenditures in this country are made with credit and debit cards.• A typical credit card purchase ends up costing 112 percent more than if cash were used.• A $1,000 charge on an average credit card will take almost 22 years to pay, and will cost more than $2,300 in interest ($3,300 total) — if only 2 percent minimum payments are made.• About 60 percent of active credit card accounts are not paid off monthly.• A typical American family today pays about $1,200 annually in credit card interest.• The average interest rate on credit cards is 18.9 percent.• Last year the credit card industry took in $43 billion in card fees.• Nine of 10 Americans claim credit card debt has never been a source of worry.• But 47 percent would refuse to tell a friend how much they owe.• Twenty-three percent of Americans admit to maxing out a credit card.• Eleven percent of Americans admit card debts went to collection.- bankrate.com (2004)
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