A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

FPU Lesson 4 – Dumping Debt

The fourth week of FPU attacks the biggest problem most of us have when it comes to winning financially. Out-of-control debt. Below are my notes from the lesson, including the key points that I highlight from the video when leading the class, and some supplemental material that I think could help the class go further on this topic.

Financial Peace Unversity

Lesson 4, Dumping Debt

Key Points

Consumer debt has only become accepted as normal in America over the last 40 years. The credit card has only been in existence since 1950. It wasn’t until after 1970 that their use became widespread. Your ‘need’ for a good credit score is a recent invention. The Sears catalog used to warn customers against buying on credit, and now it’s their biggest money-making department.

Don’t believe myths about debt. It isn’t part of a healthy financial plan. Debt is a product being sold. Remember that whenever they offer a financing option. You’re being sold a product that is tremendously profitable for them. You don’t have to have a car payment. “90 days same-as-cash” isn’t actually the same as cash. Your FICO score has nothing to do with your financial stability. You can live a perfectly normal life without ever touching debt.

Remember the importance of gazelle intensity. It’s very easy in our culture to wander into a crippling amount of debt. Between stupid loans and consolidations, you can suddenly wake up and find yourself under a mountain of payments. Escaping from that kind of mess takes focus, sacrifice, and intensity. The same motivation a gazelle has when it’s running for its life.


Chop some plastic. The first step to getting out of debt is to STOP borrowing more money. This is the week we break out the scissors and ask the class if they’d like to cut up some credit cards.

Go Deeper

If you want a more honest picture of how debt and wealth really works, check out these resources:

Next week, Lesson 5 – Buyer Beware.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Marriage and Family, Past and Future, Work and Money | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Going Broke from a Bad Break

Some recent personal events have encouraged me to post about the value of health insurance. However, that’s a topic that has become especially politicized, especially in the last few years. While I have my own opinions, like everyone else, I’m not particularly interested in elaborating on that here. There are plenty of other places to do that on the Interwebs. I’m just going to don my financial coach hat and deal with the dollars and sense facts about the topic.

Here’s the main point:

Health insurance is stupidly expensive, but emergency medical care without it is devastatingly more so.

When I write “stupidly expensive,” I mean stupid. The average healthy family is looking at paying over $1000 a month for coverage, and an individual will be lucky if they can find what they need for under $500. Just about any single other necessity on your monthly budget can be managed for less than that, but you can be warm in your house, eat your food, and drive your car. It’s easy to see why some people in the midst of a financial crisis would be willing to let insurance lapse. They can’t feel it.

Until they need serious medical care. Then they feel it big time.

You can try your hardest to avoid injuries, but accidents do happen.

A man flips, lands wrong, and slams his foot into the floor. Crack!

Oh, it’s just a broken toe. This isn’t a big deal. It hurts, and that jammed toenail looks nasty, but it’ll be fine. It’s just a toe.

Then the toenail gets infected.

Then the infection settles into the break.

Swelling. Intense pain.

Each day it’s getting worse and it’s moving into the foot.

What was “just a broken toe” becomes a trip to the Emergency Room. Two surgeries. An amputated toe. A week in the hospital.

When the bill comes in, the total is six figures. In excess of two hundred thousand dollars.


Health insurance is stupidly expensive, but emergency medical costs can be financially devastating. Suddenly having this much debt dropped into a family’s life puts everything at risk. Every asset. Every necessity. Even the very bonds of their relationship. And unexpected medical debt is one of the top reasons people declare bankruptcy in this country.

I hate debt. I especially hate it when a medical crisis is compounded by a financial crisis. So, even though health insurance is stupidly expensive, you have to have it. And you have to take the time to make sure you have the correct coverage for you and your family. Being under-insured is no better. Take the time, shop around, and get this right.

The calm before the stormOh, and the broken toe story? Absolutely true. It happened to a good friend of my family who instructs Karate, and because of the down economy he was without insurance.

Now, I’m not alright with sitting by the sidelines and letting someone who means so much to my family suffer through that without trying to help out. So, I got together with the owner of the Karate school where he works and my family studies, and put together the Chance Ward Get Well Fund over at GoFundMe.com. (We thought about calling it the Chance Ward Lost Toe Memorial Fund or maybe Chance’s Lost Piggy – Nobody’s Home but that would have made a bit too much light of a fairly serious situation.)

Go check it out. I’ll wait.

Awesome. Right now we’re trying to work out additional ways to raise money for this effort, but our best opportunity is for a lot of people to be just a little bit generous and give just a few dollars. If 1,000 people give $30 each, we’re done. Chance has easily made a difference in that many lives over his career. Consequently, even $5 can make a huge difference. I would really appreciate it if all five of you who are reading this would step up and help us out.


March 11, 2013 Posted by | Marriage and Family, Work and Money | , , , , , , | 2 Comments