As it turned out, the main benefit wasn’t learning new technical skills – it was getting Kathi and I on the same page in terms of financial priorities.
This was the tipping point in our financial “conversion.”
Once we began working together, we got rid of our credit cards, eliminated all consumer debt (including car payments), built up some savings and began to whittle down the mortgage. It took time, prayer, and sacrifice.
This approach has paid enormous dividends. Getting our finances in order resulted in my ability to leave the corporate world for a Catholic non-profit organization last year.
I believe this was a gift from God, but recognize it wouldn’t have been possible in a financially fragile state.
The lessons I took away from this experience were to trust God more than the happiness that next expenditure would bring, alluring as it might appear.
Consumer urges tend to be insatiable, so resisting them requires humility, perseverance, temperance, and even mortification.
By placing our hope in God, we also build the critical discipline of detachment. After all, if we are striving to be radically converted Christians, we should think differently about money than society as a whole.
On a practical level, here are some great tools to learn more about personal financial management, and put Christian concepts into practice.
Catholics can check out Phil Lenahan’s Veritas Financial Ministries, and his “7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free,” also available through Our Sunday Visitor.
For a non-Catholic Christian approach, I like Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” program.
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Placing our trust in God – and learning to live in abundance or need – are great ways for Christians to profit from tough economic times, and provide an opportunity for much-needed peace of mind for anyone feeling “financially fragile.”