June 28, 2007

Financial Education

My wife and I started attending a bible study on Wednesday nights a couple of months ago. It runs just under 2 hours, and attracts a large group of people. We've enjoyed attending immensely, but I have to say, last nights class was my favorite discussion yet.

FINANCES! I would have never expected that this would be one of the topics we would cover. I expected it to focus on tithing, but it was equally, or more, focused on getting out of debt.

Did you know in the bible:

Faith is mentioned under 500 times
Prayer is mentioned about 500 times
Money is mentioned more than 2000 times

So, I guess it’s an appropriate subject for bible study.

The pastor explained how he and his wife were in debt $250,000 at one point, living in a rental home, with creditors calling daily. Here’s how it happened:

He landed a great graphic design job right out of high school (he went to a vocational school) and a couple of years later, he and his new wife moved into their first home. He began to fill that home with expensive toys. He took pride in these material objects, enjoying being the guy on the block with all of the cool stuff. He got in the habit of spending more than he earned, ended up getting over his head, and losing everything. He lost the house, the cars, the boat, etc. He said it was the lowest point of his life, and that he could understand why people consider suicide. He began working two additional jobs so they could pay down their debt. During this time, he also began praying, going to church, and even tithing. In fact, the week he began tithing, he was called into his boss’ office and fired. He couldn’t believe it, he felt like he should be getting blessing that week, not fired.

The owner explained that they hadn’t made money in 3 years and he was sick of losing money because of the company. Not sure what to do, he pleaded for his job and explained to the owner numerous ways that he thought he the business could be improved and made profitable. After hearing him out, the owner said, “if you think you can do such a great job, why don’t you take over the company’? He told the owner that he didn’t have any money, and the owner’s response was, ‘I didn’t ask you for money’. He ended up making more that first month he was running the company than he made in all three of his jobs the previous month. That allowed him to quit his two other jobs, and spend more time fixing his relationship with his wife, and getting involved in the church.

They focused their income on paying off all of their debts, and succeeded in paying everything off, including their mortgage, in 7 years. They then bought a new house, and began renting their other house. The $1,200 of monthly rental income was added to their mortgage payment, and they paid the new house off in 8 years. They used that same technique with another house, and now have 3 homes paid for. Now financially independent, he became a full time pastor.

He didn’t give us his testimony to brag. He wanted to show that having even a basic understanding of finances can improve your life dramatically.

I could see that he was getting people in the room excited to pay off their debt. He even provided a debt reduction worksheet to help people get on a plan. This was a real world financial education being taught in bible study. He was careful to explain that where your treasure lies, your heart will follow. And that you don’t want to be in love with money, but to be a good steward with what God has provided you.

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