Finding Financial Peace

Having a large family is a costly endeavor. I clearly recall, when I was in my mid-twenties, telling Russ that it wasn’t expensive having lots of kids. For heaven’s sake, I washed cloth diapers, baked my own bread, and bought all of the children’s clothes at yard sales. Those folks who said that raising children was expensive just didn’t know what they were talking about.

Then those children grew older…and more little ones came after them. Their homeschooling needs grew along with them and before I knew it I was spending hundreds of dollars a year buying books and supplies. I no longer had time to hit yard sales on Saturday mornings because I was supervising morning chores; fortunately we were blessed with many hand-me-downs. Not so fortunately, our seven children by birth inherited my orthodontic challenges, so that increased our expenses. There were also occasional medical needs, including surgeries, a complicated pregnancy, and a serious illness.

Before I knew it, those young children were taking Driver’s Ed, playing sports at the local school, taking online Great Books courses, and meeting weekly with their calculus tutor. They were costing us some serious cash. By now they were buying their own clothes, so at least we didn’t have that to worry about.

Then we added four more children….

Thankfully, God gave me a financially conservative husband who has always managed money very well. We have never had debt beyond our mortgage. Some friends had a large debt that was burdening them so they took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. They made a plan for getting free of debt and are working toward that goal. The more I heard about Financial Peace, the better it sounded.

Those children of ours are now becoming young adults and as preparation for adulthood, we asked them to complete Financial Peace University. We also urged them to take the course prior to considering marriage. Russ and the five oldest kids all did FPU this summer. Sweet Pea wasn’t here, but she listened to the course on CD.

Not only were they exposed to great information on money management, but the course prompted many interesting discussions. Russ and the kids all agreed that Dave Ramsey is a very engaging speaker and they thoroughly enjoyed the course. I was able to see two of the lectures and wish I could have seen them all.

The course is offered at thousands of locations all over the US for a reasonable fee. I believe it is $119.00 for a lifetime membership which provides you with workbooks and other materials to help you change the way you manage money. Being debt-free is a legacy Russ and I want to leave our children. We never want them to be suffocated by debt that burdens them and could stifle their ability to serve God. It is tough to become a missionary if you are saddled with huge monthly credit card payments.

We are still working with the revised budget we created during the course and while it isn’t perfect, we are making progress on using the money we have in better ways. Our three oldest kids also have budgets and are making them work.

Check out and see if there is something there for you.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Laurel
    November 2, 2009

    Thanks for the info. Of our 6 young adult children, we have 3 savers and 3 spenders. We raised them all the same, but some of them just haven't bought into the debt free model. We will look into this course for all of our young adults.

    We are so glad that we have made the financial decisions that we have over the years. In just a year and a half we have had our income cut to 1/4th of what it was (and it wasn't a LOT before). But, we've used our budgeting skills to keep food on the table and clothes on our backs.

    If we'd been saddled with debt, Jim could not have possibly quit his teaching job to go into full time ministry at a very small church this summer.

    Right now we are praying for a miracle … for the Lord to provide a house for us on the very expensive island that our new little church is on.

    Thanks for always teaching and encouraging through your blog.

    Let me know if/when you're up for coffee date (or lunch or dinner) in Seattle. Life is calming down here … and I'd love to drive down for a visit when you're over this way. Or, let me know if you ever want to come over to our little island. We would LOVE to have company.

    mama of 13

  2. excitedtobeafamily
    November 2, 2009

    Dave Ramsey has changed our life. We would have never been able to pay cash for our adoption if it wasn't for his plan. I tell everyone I know about his book The Total Money Makeover. We didn't get to do FPU until we had been working the plan for 2 years. Read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey-it spells it all out as well.

  3. darci
    November 2, 2009

    hi lisa, we have his book, and it is excellent. we have really put into practice some of his principles and are striving to put the rest into practice, too. I'd love to take a seminar with my husband, since I am the reader in the family..he would like a video series more. 🙂 darc

  4. Jillaine
    November 2, 2009

    What kind of meals do you do and are you into the organic stuff or not? We have only 6 in our family and going to adopt starting in December. Just looking for thoughts and ideas. Thanks.

  5. Cat and Mark
    November 2, 2009

    LOVE Dave Ramsey! Unfortunately, with our student loans (grrr) we are a ways off from being debt free, especially with adding all the kiddos so quickly, but we are still plugging away and were able to manage my layoff much easier than most in our position.

    We have taken FPU and love it. His TMMO seminars (1 day) are a lot of fun – you and Russ should go if he comes to your area – he's fun in person!

    Also, many churches offer a discounted price for FPU – $98 for lifetime membership for family. For big families with older kids that is a DEAL! All our kids will be participating in some fashion as appropriate.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Mamita J
    November 2, 2009

    Amen and amen. We've not ever done the FPU, but we have watched an abbreviated course at church. Dave Ramsey has much wisdom and he is a hoot to watch.

    God bless,

  7. Mark and Sarah
    November 2, 2009

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing your financial ideas. I'm a mom to two young boys, and another on the way (via Ethiopia) and am wondering how your children are paying for college without debt? Were you and Russ able to save enough for all of them to attend or are they all expected to obtain scholarships (understanding that they are not to have debt). Curious about how that will work! Love your blog and the wonderful sharing of ideas that happens here!

  8. Paul and DeeDee
    November 2, 2009

    We did FPU the year before we started our adoption…..we wouldn't have Livi without Dave Ramsey:)

  9. Andrea
    November 2, 2009

    Thank you for sharing! Our church is going to offer this course at the beginning of the year, I am really excited to take it with my hubby.
    We are not great budgeters… we try, but never really accomplish it. We are both spenders… NOT good when we both are…lol And we aren't being faithful stewards. We have pretty strongly convicted of that recently…ouch.
    Thanks for your insight!

  10. Julie
    November 2, 2009

    We did FPU 9 years ago and it changed our lives forever. Now, at 36 and 37, we are completely debt free, including our house. We were able to pay cash for our adoption and both my husband and I have been able to step out of well paying jobs and go into full time ministry when God called us because we had an emergency fund and almost no expenses.

    Plus we never fight about money which is awesome.

  11. Robin
    November 2, 2009

    Thank you for sharing…I can't say enough about Dave Ramsey and his matter-of-fact biblica approach to money. There truly is "peace" that comes with being out of debt!

  12. Patty
    November 3, 2009

    Dave Ramsey course ROCKS!

  13. Thankfulmom
    November 3, 2009

    Thanks for all the great comments! Some of you know far more about Dave Ramsey than I do. It has been great watching my kids learn and grow in their understanding of stewardship.

    @Jillaine While eating organic would be great, it isn't possible for us on our budget. We do grow some of our produce, but for the most part, I shop at WinCo and Costco.

    I've written a few posts on feeding large families. You might like this:

    @Sarah I was trying to find a link to a post I wrote about financing college educations, but didn't have success…on my own blog no less! Maybe I only think I wrote one and if that is the case, I think I should.

    We do not have college savings, although I think it is a brilliant idea. Fortunately our kids have scholarships, work to save for their education, and so far, have not taken out loans. Sweet Pea is in medical school and is not able to work, so she is now taking out loans.

    This is a blog post in itself, but we have encouraged our children to get the best education they can at the public university with no debt. Then, if they want to go to graduate school, they should go to the school they most want to attend. If they choose a career that will allow them to earn a good income, they can then pay that debt off.

    Russ got his MS and PhD at an Ivy League school and that has served us well.

    Laurel, it would be great to see you sometime!


  14. theschwarz1
    March 7, 2011

    Pretty cool, I just posted a reply on one of your other posts about Dave Ramsey's course! We are in the middle of the 13 week course and it is pretty good. Most areas have scholarships and whatnot bc, like us, many people who need this course, cant afford it!


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