Financial Peace University
Gainesville First United Methodist
When: 7 p.m. Thursdays starting March 7
Where: 2780 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
How much: $55 for couples, $45 for singles
Lanier Hills Church, North Campus
When: 5 p.m. Sundays starting Feb. 17
Where: 4091 Mount Vernon Road, Gainesville
How much: $89
Northside Family Worship Center
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays
Where: 4125 Cleveland Highway
How much: $89
Lakewood Baptist Church
When: 6 p.m. Wednesdays
Where: 2235 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
How much: $89
Northlake Baptist Church
When: 4:45 p.m. Sundays
Where: 4823 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
How much: $95
Several Gainesville churches are preaching a message of peace. That is, financial peace.
Northside Family Worship Center, Northlake Baptist Church, Lakewood Baptist Church, all in Gainesville, are currently helping people learn to manage their finances with Financial Peace University.
Other churches including Gainesville First United Methodist Church, Lanier Hills Church North Campus will be offering the course in the coming months.
Financial Peace University is a nine-week course designed by personal money-management expert and radio host Dave Ramsey. The course teaches those of all ages and pay scales how to handle their money dilemmas and to save money.
According to DaveRamsey.com, more than 1.5 million families have participated in the program.
Organizations across the country have taught people the steps to financial peace through the program. The course has a biblical curriculum that makes it popular with many churches and religious organizations.
Paul Wingo, the Financial Peace University coordinator at Northlake Baptist Church, has been teaching students the program for the last five years. He said it’s just in his heart to help people learn how to manage their money.
While the program is highly praised by those who have completed the course, Wingo said the most important thing people get out of the program is hope.
"It gives people hope because most people are so in debt, or lost their jobs or something bad has happened," Wingo said. "These are people that did have a job, did have insurance but the times are so bad and we just give them hope they can get through it."
Several key Bible verses help illustrate the lessons taught through the course.
For instance, Proverbs 21:20 "The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs," demonstrates the value in saving money.
"Throughout the study we go over verses in the Bible that say not to be in debt and to save for a rainy day because the rainy day, it will come. You can call him Murphy if you want, but he’s coming," Wingo said.
Gainesville First United Methodist Church will offer the course in March.
Rebeccah Damon, assistant to pastor of discipleship and Christian education, said the course will be taught with an emphasis on couples and individuals who are just starting out.
Since she took the class herself several years ago, she said she’s learned the effectiveness of saving her money and paying off debts.
Most courses cost $100 for the entire family to participate and include materials.
Gainesville First United Methodist Church is offering the course at a reduced price of $55 for couples and $45 for singles with the help of a scholarship.
The program starts by giving students "seven baby steps." The steps help students build savings, pay off debts and manage their money.
One of the habits that seem hardest to break, Wingo said, is the use of credit cards.
Some people depend on them and others see plastic as a status symbol. Wingo said they typically have a cutting party where students snip their cards. Shards of plastic pile up fast.
One former student, Mary Clark of Gainesville, admits she relied on credit cards.
"When I first took (the class), I was using my credit cards for this, that and the other," Clark said.
Now she said she only keeps a gas card. The only reason she has a gas card is because she can save 10 cents a gallon at certain stations.
"I started using my debit card or my cash for everything," Clark said. "I’ve been able to put away enough money to last for an emergency... without going into debt."
Clark said she’s enjoyed learning how to control her money rather than her money controlling her.
Wingo laughed and said his former students love to share their success stories, and he loves to hear them.
He said the course is a great opportunity for people to learn how to manage their finances without fear of judgement or ridicule. He said the classes can get emotional at times, and that’s OK. Everyone in the class is there for the same reason, they want to learn ways to control their finances.