Discover financial peace of saving, giving

CHARLESTON — “Money is the root of all evil” is one of the most frequently misquoted sayings of our time. The actual passage is a Scripture that reads, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tm 6:10).

At Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, participants learn that this is just one of 800 Scriptures in the Bible that touch on money. They learn it is not money itself, but how people feel about it and what they do with it that causes sorrow, not just for themselves, but for God.

Ramsey’s course teaches people to handle money the way God wants, which means saving, and more importantly, giving.  

Blessed Sacrament Church in Charleston offers the course twice a year. The next session begins March 16, and sign-up starts Feb. 22 at the parish hall.

Jack McGovern, director of stewardship and development at the parish, said they began offering Financial Peace about five years ago when Msgr. Joseph F. Hanley, pastor, asked his parishioners to dedicate themselves to becoming a stewardship parish.

A key step to that is understanding finances, Mc G ov ern said.

He began looking into different programs and said he was impressed with Financial Peace University, which has courses specifically geared for churches, schools, the workplace, banks and more. More than 10,000 churches nationwide have hosted it.

McGovern said he took the first class the church offered and enjoyed it.

“I have a financial background, but what I like about it is it’s very simple,” he said. “There are no complicated terms. It’s all about how to get out of debt and then how to save.”

As the program states, if people are out of debt and saving, imagine what they will be able to give to the church, and what the church will be able to do in terms of outreach.

Since they started offering the classes, Msgr. Hanley said he has seen growth in his parishioners’ awareness of the many opportunities to serve and a willingness to do so.

McGovern said Blessed Sacrament has witnessed a 30 to 35 percent increase in stewardship.   

Walter Frick, a member of the church, is a course facilitator. But before he became a certified instructor, he was a student, and he credits the knowledge he gained for saving him financially when times grew tough.

Frick and his wife, like so many couples, were arguing over money. They decided to buy Ramsey’s book and followed his guidelines on how to pay off debt and create an emergency savings fund. Not long after, Frick was laid off after 17 years in the trucking business.   

“If I hadn’t been doing this, I would have been in full panic mode,” he said.

As it was, he and his wife had saved enough in their emergency fund to cover their living expenses for several months. Most Americans would not be able to do that.

According to statistics, the United States is $2.7 trillion in debt, and 7 out of 10 people live paycheck to paycheck.

Credit card debt, school loans, and huge mortgages push people under.

Financial Peace University offers a solution. The program pledges that the average family will eliminate $5,300 of debt and save $2,700 in the 13 weeks of the class. Within 24 months, participants can be debt free except for their mortgage.

Frick confirms that it works.

“If they’re sick and tired of living the way they’re living, then they’re really excited and they come to the classes,” he said. “Those folks who are really serious about changing where they are to a better place in life are truly committed and they carry a lot away with them.”

It isn’t easy. Most people know what they need to do, but can’t break their spending habits.

“We have to change behavior from what we’ve been doing to what works, and what works is the Biblical concepts we talk about in this class,” Frick said.

Participants attend class once a week for 13 weeks and learn the correct way to save, spend and give.

The first half of the course is taught by Ramsey via video.

“It is very entertaining, very funny, but it is packed with a lot of information,” Frick said.

The second half teaches people how to incorporate what they’ve learned into their daily lives. This is when things become tough, because the students have to break their bad spending habits. They have to live on less than they make in order to start saving and giving.

“God wants us to be good stewards” Frick said. Financial peace teaches people to make the right choices in life.

Among the lessons are instructions on how to create a monthly budget that really works, how to find bargains on everything, and how to invest. Also, the class brings men and women together on money and teaches them how to talk about it in the same language.

Msgr. Hanley, McGovern and Frick all noted the detrimental effect that financial problems can have on a marriage. If not the number one cause for divorce, it is certainly in the top five.

The pastor said it is strongly recommended for married and engaged couples. Teenagers also benefit by learning financial peace before they develop bad habits.

Participants range in age from 13 all the way up to senior citizens, Frick said.    

The most important lesson anyone will learn, he said, is the paradox of: The more you give, the more you receive.

He said people can’t understand how it is possible to give yet still receive more, and believe they have to hang onto their money in order to have more.

Statistics show that less than 3 percent of Catholics tithe 10 percent of their income, and the average amount of giving is 2 percent of income.

“What we’re really trying to change is spiritual nature,” Frick said. “You have to come to the lessons to find out how.”

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