“When I saw this car it was love at first sight,” says Marvin Cregger, shown above with his 2011 Dodge Charger RT. Cregger, who will help lead the FPU Course at St. Paul’s beginning Sept. 18, paid cash for the automobile. “Taking FPU is what enabled me to do that,” he says. “I’d never have been able to save the money on my own otherwise.”

Summerville residents Joy and Marion Hunter didn’t have high expectations when they signed up for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) at their church, St. Paul’s, three years ago. “We’d done another course the church offered,” says Joy. “And they just told us to budget, save more and invest wisely. It didn’t really make a difference in our lives.”

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, (FPU) however was a totally different story.

When the Hunters signed up for it in 2008 they were about $3,000 in debt.

“We were paying off medical bills and a car payment at the time,” says Joy. “It’s not that we were extravagant spenders, but throughout our marriage (of 20 years) we pretty much stayed $3,000 to $5,000 in debt.  A child would break an arm, the car would need to be repaired or replaced, the heat and air unit on our house quit, a child needed braces. We’d be paying off one bill when we’d get socked with another. We just couldn’t seem to get ahead.”

During FPU the Hunters learned about Ramsey’s “Baby Steps.” They began with a small emergency fund, and then paid off their bills. “You really have to take the course to understand the steps, and get committed to them,” says Joy, “But a few months after taking the course we were totally debt free except for our house.”

Now, three years later, the Hunters have continued to stay out of debt, they have a six-month emergency fund and are able to save regularly for retirement.

Marvin Cregger, also of Summerville, knows what it’s like to go without. In 1996 he filed for bankruptcy.

“It was a terrible time in my life,” says Cregger. “FPU didn’t get me out of bankruptcy,” he says. “I’d paid that debt off before I took the course, but I did know what it’s like to be broke. What FPU did for me was that it really got me to start putting money away, to take saving seriously.  I began to pay attention to my money and what I was doing with it. Just recently Cregger purchased a brand new fire-engine red 2011 Dodge Charger RT.

“When I saw that car, it was love at first sight,” he says. “I knew it was the one I wanted. When I went to talk with the dealer he started asking me how I wanted to finance it. Boy was he surprised when I paid cash. Taking FPU is what enabled me to do that,” he says. “I’d never have been able to save the money on my own otherwise.”

Bob Armstrong and his wife Christine had been fairly wise in handling their finances before they took FPU. “We weren’t in debt,” says Bob. “We paid our bills regularly, but FPU got us to start budgeting and watching where our money went. They’ve now put three children through college without any debt. “I’d have to give FPU credit for helping us do that,” says Robert.

Joy Hunter, Marvin Cregger and Robert Armstrong will all be small group leaders in the next FPU course being offered at St. Paul’s, Summerville, starting September 18. The 12-week course will meet on Sunday nights at 5:30 p.m. at the church. There is a $100 enrollment and materials fee. If you’re interested in learning more, visit www.stpaulssummerville.org.