Dave Ramsey spoke at our church last weekend. Dave Ramsey is the creator of Financial Peace University. A biblical-based training system that teaches us how to be smart with our money. He’s a great speaker and a lot of what he said was stuff I needed to hear. Most importantly he said that without a map you are not going to get anywhere. A map for finances would be a budget. He encouraged us all to go home and at the very least make our map so we’d know where we were going. This idea appealed to Bob and once home he
forced had me sit down with him to make a budget.
He also signed us up for a class at Harper about planning for retirement. Never let it be said that Bob does not know how to have fun.
bored on board with this idea but the day of the class I woke up with a cold. Sneezing, sniffling, blowing, coughing and so tired. I was scheduled to go to work at 5am. I told myself I could work for four hours because then I could come home and take a little nap and be rested for class tonight. At nine the woman that was supposed to relieve me at work came in and looked like death warmed over. She was sick but couldn’t find anyone to work for her. Okay, she looked worse than I felt so I told her to go home I would stay. So I stayed until 2pm.
After nine hours of working, with a cold (martyr) I am thinking that this is for sure going to get me out of class tonight.
But I know that this is important for Bob and I so I buck up, drink a red bull (martyr with wings) and go.
Our instructor describes himself as a successful financial guy, he put up a slide listing the many degrees and certificates that he has. He also explained the reason he teaches at Harper is because he has a genuine desire to help people. He is not looking for our business but, you know, if, by accident, you become a client well…so be it. He also adds that there is a free forty-five minute, no obligation consultation included with the price of the class.
Finally he starts to talk about finances. But first an entertaining story. A story from the Peace Corps manual. This section in the manual is called How to Kill an Anaconda. After the story you will understand how to handle your finances.
1. If you are attacked by an anaconda do not run. The snake is faster than you are.
(The instructor added to the story by saying that Anacondas can move up to 35mph.)
2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against one another.
3. Tuck your chin in. (Really?)
4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb over your body.
5. Do not panic. (Really?)
6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet and always from that end. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic.
(The instructor ad-libbed here telling us that for some reason the brain is the sweetest part. Like dessert for the snake.)
7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.
8. When the snake has reached your knees slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife (we needed a knife and this is the first time we are hearing about it?) and very gently slide it into the side of the snake’s mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg, then suddenly rip upwards, severing the snake’s head.
(If you think about this, you will not be severing his head right off…I mean that was one big knife I had in my pocket if it is big enough to sever this snakes head. Think about it, his head is as wide as my legs… And, since my legs are in his mouth I am not going to be cutting the bottom part of his head off because my legs are in the way. Who tested this out in the field?)
9. Be sure you have your knife. (I knew it had to be in here!)
10. Be sure your knife is sharp.
He concludes by emphasizing that the most important thing to being successful with your money in retirement is not to panic. Remain calm? I should remain calm despite the fact that social security is running out, insurance costs more and covers less and my 401k has been swallowed up to the hips. Did he say retirement income? He might as well have said my retirement income will be delivered weekly via unicorn. I am thinking this guy is missing an important part of the guide…I am thinking I may need a knife.
Now I am going to give you some facts.
This Peace Corps manual chapter is an urban legend that began circulating around 1998. Completely made up. This is absolutely not what to do in the case of an anaconda attack. Not even written by the Peace Corps which really is pretty obvious because I know the Peace Corps would be smart enough to mention that you should have a knife well before the last step.
Anacondas are fast in the water but on land can only move about one mph. The average human can run about 11mph. So you only need one rule. Run, just run. Think Forrest Gump…no knife required.
The bit about always eating the feet first? I scoured the internet and couldn’t find one picture of an anaconda eating something feet first. Apparently the opposite is true, the feet are the sweetest part and they save them for last. Your head is going in first, probably because the snake hates the screaming.
I didn’t know this guy was a bullshit artist that night but now I am wondering how many other things he made up just for my entertainment. And despite the fact that we should under no circumstances feel obligated to use his services we do get a forty-five minute free consultation, but we don’t have to use it, it’s not mandatory. But he’d love to see us in the office…I’m gonna be sure to have my knife.
He then launches into some great information (as described by him) on how to calculate what we will need to live on in retirement. There really was some good information there, if you have the first clue about finances. For those of us that are…for lack of a better word, clueless, it was a little hard to keep up. Thank goodness he had a lot of clients that he helped become financially secure and could share some real life stories. He also showed us many charts that could help and if we are still struggling we do have a free forty-five minute no obligation consultation but really, that’s not required, he’s not here to make money.
Now, we did get a manual so we could go over this stuff at home but he doesn’t really follow the manual, he made up most of the slides on his own so he laughs and says don’t even bother to follow along in the manual because it is meaningless. If you need further explanation you can use the forty-five minute no obligation consultation at his office that is included with the price of the class, his office is close, right in Barrington, about five miles from here.
Throughout this three hour class. Bob occasionally looks at me and says, “This is all you, I have no idea what he’s talking about.” About midway through Bob did look a little overwhelmed.
At the end I asked Bob what parts he did understand. Hoping that he got some of the math stuff because I am a writer, not a mather.
He says “I know my name is Bob (we got name tags) and the teachers name was Joe (it was written on the board.) “And I should never run from an anaconda.” (there was a slide illustrating this.)
Bob’s a visual learner.
Then he excitedly added, “We get a free forty-five minute consultation!”
My take on all this? Anacondas are sly little camouflage artists that often start eating you at the butt because that is where your wallet is.
Part two of this class is next week. I’ll let you know what we learn.