LIFE IN EASTERN IOWA

Finance nerds at Financial Peace University: Classes teach people how to better manage their money

Katlyn Hardecopf and Josh Pudlo of Cedar Rapids

Submitted photo
Katlyn Hardecopf and Josh Pudlo of Cedar Rapids Submitted photo

Josh Pudlo and his girlfriend, Katlyn Hardecopf, help people in the Corridor get their finances under control.

Pudlo, 22, and Hardecopf, 23, are currently teaching a nine-week course — part of Financial Peace University — at the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

The course, offered throughout the country, was developed by Dave Ramsey, a national radio show host, author and finance guru who’s featured in video presentations during the classes.

After learning about Ramsey’s program and applying the teachings in their own lives, the Cedar Rapids couple wanted an opportunity to share his money management advice with others.

“After listening to Ramsey’s podcasts, I felt his principles and the math behind them made sense,” Pudlo said.

Pudlo, a tax accountant, and Hardecopf, a credit analyst, are happy to volunteer their time and enjoy leading the class.

“We’re absolute finance nerds,” Pudlo said.

Hardecopf said she remembers her dad listening to the Dave Ramsey radio program and thinking that it was “kind of boring.”

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During college, her boss at Wells Fargo where she worked part-time, recommended she try the nine-week Financial Peace program.

“I never expected it to make that big of an impact on my life,” she said. “I learned how important it is to know where your money’s going.”

Hardecopf credits the program for teaching her how to “attack the debt” and pay off her student loans within a week of her college graduation.

“There’s so much you don’t learn in school about money,” she said.

Paying off debt is one of the first things Pudlo and Hardecopf, with guidance from Dave Ramsey’s video lessons and workbook, teach class participants.

“The class teaches you why debt is such a hindrance to your financial success,” Pudlo said.

Other topics include establishing an emergency fund and saving for retirement, no matter your age.

Class participants vary widely in age — from people who’ve just graduated high school or college to people planning for retirement.

Hardecopf said the course can benefit people at any stage of life.

“Money is such an important topic, but it’s sometimes viewed as something you shouldn’t discuss,” she said. “It’s so important to be aware of how much you’re spending.”

Pudlo said one of the simplest and most important pieces of advice is to live on less money than you earn.

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“Spending all of your money every month shouldn’t be considered normal,” he said.

Pudlo and Hardecopf said Iowans are generally hard-working people, which can help them on their path to financial security.

“They’re willing to work hard, and the class gives them the tools to make their money work for them,” Pudlo said.

The last class in the program encourages participants to think about giving back, something Hardecopf said is important to her.

“A lot of the program has some biblical background, and it encourages giving back to the community through time or money,” she said.

For Pudlo and Hardecopf, helping people be more financially secure is one way of giving back.

“Seeing people pay off debt is rewarding,” Hardecopf said. “People feel empowered to have this knowledge.”

Financial Peace University’s nine-week classes cost $129 per family. Online options also are available. Learn more at daveramsey.com/classes.

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