Financial Peace University classes to begin Jan. 23

Cori HilsgenFeatured News, Sartell – St. Stephen, St. Joseph0 Comments

by Cori Hilsgen

The start of a new year is often a time when people try to set and achieve new goals such as spending down or getting out of debt.

A Financial Peace University class will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell and will continue for nine weeks.

Instructors Alison and Joel Dahlin said Financial Peace University is a plan to get out of debt, save for the future and manage your money as a great team with your spouse.

The couple became debt-free in 2016. They said they had a good income, but still felt stressed when it came to money.

“It felt like we were living paycheck to paycheck and never getting ahead,” Joel said.

He heard Dave Ramsey, a financial expert and author, speak on the radio and ordered his book The Total Money Makeover.

He and Alison both read the book and found a simple and easy plan to follow that got them fired up. They hope to teach their children how to manage their money and live life without debt. They also hope this will pass down to all of their future generations.

When the Dahlins refer to being debt-free they mean to have no debt other than a home mortgage. They still have a home mortgage but are trying to quickly pay it off.

“It really gave us hope that we could change things,” Joel said. “It wasn’t like we were in trouble or anything, but we just felt like we should be doing better.”

After reading the book and listening to Ramsey’s podcast, they became excited to make a change.

To become debt-free, the couple followed their plan. They said it wasn’t easy, but they stuck with it. They found the plan to be harder at the beginning and challenging at different times, but the more progress they made the more excited they became about it.

All of their family – including their daughters Sabrina, 9, and Ziva, 7 – are involved in the plan, which includes basic principles to follow, and they continue to stick with it.

“One unexpected outcome was becoming better communicators with each other,” Alison said. “Because the plan requires you to literally plan out every month together, it put us both on the same page with everything.”

The Dahlins knew that every day on Dave Ramsey’s radio show a person, couple or family will either call in or go into the studio to give their “debt-free scream.” These are people who followed his plan and became debt-free.

They decided that to go to the Dave Ramsey Studio in Nashville, Tenn. and give their scream in person would be a cool way to celebrate a step in their financial journey. Alison and Joel turned the adventure into a road trip over spring break.

“The scream is an event where you share your story and at the end as a family yell at the top of your lungs “We’re debt-free,” Joel said. “It’s an amazing experience.”
They said the debt-free scream was fun for the kids and they looked forward to it and practiced all the way through their journey.

“It was exciting to be there, yet also a bit nerve-racking to be there,” Joel said. “We knew there were listeners all over the country listening to our story. It was out of our comfort zone.”

Even though it was out of their comfort zone,  Joel and Alison are glad they visited the studio. They now want to help others become debt-free and plan to share Ramsey’s information through their classes.

Becoming debt-free is only one step of the plan, we still are following the plan in what are referred to the “baby steps.”

Janelle Von Pinnon, publisher and owner of The Newsleaders, said she has read many of Ramsey’s materials, including EntreLeadership, which she found very interesting and applicable to her business.

She said Ramsey is well-known and has a lot of insight into financial peace for couples, families and business owners.

Anyone interested in the classes is welcomed to attend the first night for free to see if it is something they think they might be interested in.

“The plan completely changed our life,” Joel said. “We went from feeling stressed, living paycheck to paycheck to now debt-free, saving for the future, giving money to causes we believe in and enjoying our new-found financial freedom. We are so happy we did it.”

People who are interested in attending the class should email the Dahlins by Jan. 19 at

If this class date and time doesn’t work for anyone who wants to participate in the classes, there are also other people in the area leading classes.

The Dahlins live in Sartell. Alison earned her master’s degree in business administration from St. Cloud State University and works at CentraCare Health. Joel has a bachelor’s degree in business computers information systems from SCSU and operates a small business doing development.

contributed photo
Sartell residents Alison and Joel Dahlin and their children, (left to right) Sabrina and Ziva, visit the Dave Ramsey Studio to give their “debt-free scream.” Joel and Alison will teach Financial Peace University classes to help other people become debt-free beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23 at St. Francis Xavier Church.

contributed photo
Alison and Joel Dahlin and their children, Sabrina (left) and Ziva, visit with financial expert and author, Dave Ramsey (right), last spring at the Dave Ramsey Studio in Nashville, Tennessee.



Author: Cori Hilsgen

Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people’s stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.

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