St. Augustine Catholic
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Road to Financial Freedom

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Road to Financial Freedom
By Doug Filaroski

In his pastoral work at San José Parish in Jacksonville, Father Al Esposito has encountered many couples preparing to be married but failing to prepare for managing their finances afterward. That is why he has introduced a new program to parishioners that will help them succeed with money matters.

“About 10 percent of couples I see have any sense of a value-based budget,” Father Al said. “I see this as a pastoral crisis.”

Father Al said this new program, called The Road to Financial Freedom, is vital at a time in which the U.S. Federal Reserve reports that 40 percent of American households spend more than they receive as income. Financial stress turns people away from God.

“Money problems divert human beings from the business of loving,” Father Al said. “It is pretty clear that God is pleased when our resources are used in a value-based way.”

“Jesus doesn’t want us just to cope and worry,” Father Al said. “Jesus wants us to thrive. This program is about thriving.”

The Road to Financial Freedom is a product of Crown Financial Ministries founded by the late Larry Burkett and Howard Dayton of Gainesville, Ga. Crown promotes the belief that God owns all things and that people are only “stewards of those possessions” while on Earth.

A core team was formed at San José to introduce The Road to Financial Freedom program to parishioners. It was launched in August. The 10-week program includes courses on reducing personal debt; increasing savings, earnings and net worth; strengthening marriages with value-based living; devoting more time to prayer and understanding the Bible and training children on money matters.

“This is not about the 10 percent [tithe],” said Lou Walsh, a San José parishioner, core team member and financial analyst. “It is about the other 90 percent - managing our own money.”

Walsh added, “God wants us to succeed and prosper; he tells us how to do it in detail. This program breaks it down and explains God’s teachings.”

“There is plenty in the Bible and in Jesus’ teachings to guide today’s Christians on how to manage money. About half of the parables in the Bible relate to handling finances,” said Father Al.

“Freedom is not only a set of laws or an abstract concept or civil rights; freedom is an attitude of heart that can touch every nook and cranny of our lives,” said Father Al in a letter he sent to parishioners. “The Road to Financial Freedom is an invaluable tool that will help all of us put God first in our lives,” he said. Adding, “God is an awesome manager of our personal resources and finances!”

10 Steps to Getting Out of Debt

1. Pray - Ask the Lord’s guidance toward “D-Day” - debtless day. As you eliminate debt, the Lord blesses your faithfulness.

2. Establish a written budget - This helps with planning ahead and seeing where you can cut back.

3. List assets - Consider each item - furniture, cars, etc.- and determine whether you should sell any assets.

4. List liabilities - Most people don’t know exactly how much they owe. A list of liabilities gives you an accurate picture of your current financial position.

5. Establish a debt repayment schedule for each creditor - Decide which ones to pay off first.

6. Consider earning additional income - Pay off debts with additional earnings.

7. Accumulate no new debt - Start paying for everything in cash.

8. Be content with what you have - Limit television watching and magazine reading. The more you watch, the more you spend. The more you look at magazines, the more you spend.

9. Consider a radical change in lifestyle - Temporarily reduce cost-of-living expenses.

10. Don’t give up! - Getting out of debt is hard work, but freedom from debt is worth the struggle.

Crown Financial Ministries - January 2005