Trish asked, "What, in your mind, is the difference between fear and a sound cause for modification?"
First of all, don't ever worry about a comment being judgemental or defensive. I like to be challenged. That's a very good question. And, as with most good question, there isn't a simple answer. Life is complicated. I've listened to several calls where Dave has told people they need to put their "Total Money Makeover" on hold. These situations usually include job loss, anticipating a job loss, expecting a child, severe medical problems, etc. In these cases, I've heard him tell people to temporarily stop their debt snowball and stock pile cash. The first stress there is temporarily. He would say to only do this as long as necessary and probably would even challenge that length of time. The other big factor is that he says that when the situation changes (or if you don't end up needing that stash) you put all that money you had been stock piling on to debt. Tim and I did this when we were pregnant with Addison. We knew what our maximum out of pocket was and saved that (plus a little) in case some thing happened with the delivery or if she was sick. Then at the end of the year, when every thing was fine, we put all that money toward our debt snowball. I think Dave would consider this a sound cause for modification. Although, it's not really a modification; it's really just pushing the pause button for a little bit.
I think there are some key things that are sort of set in stone... First of all he is very set on the order of the baby steps. I've heard people call in and say, "I'm doing Financial Peace University but I decided I wanted to have my 3 month emergency fund before paying off my debt." His answer was simple and to the point, "Then you're not doing Financial Peace University. You're doing your own thing." I think that is fear. He's also very firm on the order in which you pay debt. A lot of people argue that they should pay the largest interest rate first. Again, that's a fine choice, but then you aren't really doing FPU. That's not fear, but it is resisting change in my mind.
I firmly believe that every one has to choose what works best for them. But, if you decide to commit yourself to Financial Peace and making a Total Money Makeover than you need to trust in what Dave has proven to work. You have to be willing to commit to living like no one else so later you can live like no one else. You have to hate debt so much that you are willing to attack it with gazelle intensity. If you find yourself making excuses or modifying things a lot (or simply not hating debt enough to make it a real priority for your money), then it might be a fear of change... or it might be that you haven't experienced the "pain" needed to embrace change.
Deciding whether or not to do a Total Money Makeover is a very personal choice. Just keep in mind... If you keep doing what your doing, you'll keep getting what your getting. That's what I keep in mind when I ask myself if some thing I want to modify (like changing the amount to invest) is justified or based in fear. The hard truth is that it's usually not justified, but it's not really fear either... it just us being lazy. I don't want to be lazy any more. I want to keep charging forward with gazelle intensity. I want to be weird.
(For the record... I'm not saying your lazy. I'm saying to ask the hard questions and you'll find the answers. MY answers usually boil down to me being lazy and admitting that forces me back on track. Also... I won't love you any less if you decide FPU isn't right for you.)