TRAVERSE CITY — A brewer is leading a financial class in the chapel of a church.
It may sound like the opening line to a bad joke, but there is no punch line.
After a brief hiatus, Financial Peace University will return to Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City. Leading the nine-week course is Mike Dwyer, the brewer at Mackinaw Brewing Company.
The curriculum comes from national radio host, author and businessman Dave Ramsey. The course description says it blends “biblical wisdom and common sense to help you tackle budgeting, pay off debt and make your money work for you.”
The class runs from 6:30-8 p.m. in the chapel over nine Tuesdays from Sept. 17 to Nov. 12. The course is one of 17 offered this fall at CUMC.
“Most are pretty parochial in their scope,” said Donna Olendorf, adult education director at Central United Methodist. “This one, we felt, has a broader interest beyond the United Methodist Church.
“(Ramsey’s message) is rooted in Christianity and spiritual values. But you don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from this lecture, this class.”
“It’s been more and more a part of the class,” Dwyer added. “My take on it is the financial information is so good, that regardless of what you feel religiously, it doesn’t matter. The information is just awesome.”
Look no further than the lead instructor for proof that the financial principles go beyond the walls of the church. Mike and his wife, Laurie, attend services at ‘Central Church,’ as the congregation calls it, but are not members.
“My wife and I refer to ourselves as long-term guests,” Dwyer said.
He’s also not just the course leader. Dwyer said he’s taken the class twice, both times when it was a 13-week course. He later served as co-leader of the class and has been the lead eight or nine times prior.
Dwyer said the course teaches valuable lessons about budgeting and reducing debt other than a house mortgage. It’s made a big impact in the Dwyer household.
“Other than the house, we were out of debt this year,” he said. “That’s student loan, credit, medical and car payments.”
Dwyer said student loan debt was the last to go and was celebrated.
“Like Dave Ramsey says, ‘You know it’s been around so long that you give it a pet name,’” Dwyer said. “We were finally able to kick Sallie Mae out of the house.”
Olendorf said Ramsey developed the course after his own personal experience.
“He dug himself out of that financial hole doing these principals,” she said.
Dwyer said the course begins with a series of what Ramsey calls ‘Baby Steps.’ He added the first step is to put $1,000 in an initial emergency fund and then tackling personal debt, attacking the smallest one first in what is called a ‘Debt Snowball.’
“The idea behind that is you have to get some traction,” Dwyer said.
“The principles are open to anyone, especially for people who don’t have a framework on how to approach their debt,” Olendorf said. “It can be overwhelming.”
Olendorf added Ramsey does believe in giving back to the church along with tackling personal debt.
“He sees money as a dynamic currency,” Olendorf said. “Money is not static. The value of money is how you use it and what you do with it.”
The curse cost is discounted for Central United Methodist Church and is around $100, Olendorf said. It comes with a member workbook and a year of free online resources through Financial Peace membership.
For more information, contact Olendorf at email@example.com or (231) 946-5191, extension 231.