By Michael Stafford
PERMIAN BASIN - I'm sure most of us have been in debt at some point in our lives.
It's not pleasant at all. It can cause bankruptcy. You could lose your home, or it may even cause problems in your marriage.
Those rising gas and food prices are only making matters worse, especially for many middle and low income families, but some people here in the Basin are attending a financial course and they say it's helping change their lives.
Some of you might recognize Dave Ramsey.
He's a best selling author and radio host. And twice a year Basin residents can sign up for this video course at Crestview Baptist Church in Midland. It's appropriately named "Financial Peace."
"About ten years ago, Becky and I were on the absolute verge of bankruptcy. Not enough money and way too much debt," Mark McCraney, said.
He knows all too well what it's like to be in debt, but he quickly turned things around.
He administers this course and says there are two primary factors. You must create a budget and use discipline.
"It's tough and it makes it tougher to do a budget from the perspective of spending money, but you have to do a budget to know exactly where your money is going and it does strain people. It strains us," McCraney added.
One of the first things you'll learn at Financial Peace is to stop using those credit cards, pay them off, and then cut them up.
Jessica Horner learned to track her spending and budget her money. This class has really paid off for her.
"It's probably good we started the class when we did. We've learned how to save and how to budget. We do a lot of driving out of town, so, especially gas and of course having a baby with the milk so expensive. It has affected us. But luckily, the class really has made a difference," Horner said.
Still, others told us they've learned other helpful tricks fighting off debt.
"I write on paper what I can and cannot do. I have a certain amount I spend on groceries, housing and I have learned how to talk to credit card people, and not be afraid of them," Gwen Gunter, says.
You'll find that budgeting your money can help you stretch each and every dollar. And, we better all prepare, because higher prices like gas and food may be sticking around for quite a while.
"The prices have escalated, and I understand why people are hurting. College tuition is a whole different story in itself. Medical, retail, pharmacy, everything is up," McCraney said.
Dave Ramsey covers a number of things in his 13 week course, from real estate tips and I.R.A's to creating an emergency fund. And don't worry about your income level or amount of debt. McCraney says just about everyone has taken this course and benefitted from it, even the rich.
"It really is about financial peace with your money, because there's been people who've come through here that are millionaires that don't have peace. It creates the idea that money doesn't create havoc in your life, and boy we see a lot of that," McCraney added.