By Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn
Special to American Forces Press Service
Iraq, Feb. 3, 2009 - Financial prosperity is not just about money and where it goes. It is a lifestyle choice that requires knowledge of key financial principles and the ability to delay the need for gratification. That's the philosophy of the "Financial Peace University" program offered by the 10th Mountain Division's Special Troops Battalion chaplain's office here, Army Chaplain (Capt.) Mike Jones, the battalion's chaplain, said.
The program -- developed by author and nationally syndicated talk-show host Dave Ramsey, covers all aspects of financial management, including saving, spending wisely, making shrewd deals with salespeople, insurance management, investing and donating money to charities.
"Most financial programs focus on one aspect of financial management," Jones said. "They are good at what they do, but they're limited in scope. FPU covers everything."
Saving money is especially important to Army Spc. Cheryl Thomas, flute and piccolo player for the 10th Mountain Division Band.
"I don't have any debt now," she said. "My goal coming into this class was to push my savings goal higher."
The Fort Drum, N.Y., resident is well on her way to reaching her goal.
"When I get home from Iraq, I will be able to buy a car with cash," Thomas said. "I have learned from Dave Ramsey that I don't need to buy anything on credit to establish good credit, and I don't need credit at all when I have saved enough cash to buy anything I need." The program teaches limiting spending when trying to save money.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Kimberly Schmitz, noncommissioned officer in charge of the division's command group, said she wants to learn how to spend wisely.
"My daughter has a lot of 'I wants,'" the LaJunta, Colo., native said. "Ramsey teaches that we all have that little kid inside of us as well. I am learning the importance of delayed gratification —-- sleeping on a buying decision before doing it."
Financial Peace University is making a difference in soldiers' lives, Schmitz said, adding that she wants the program to expand.
"I think this training should be mandatory for all soldiers," she said, "especially younger ones who are just getting started."
(Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn serves with Multinational Division Center.)