Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The latest endeavour of Christianity. God is your financial counselor.

Bouphonia has a great post with a list of suggestions for the "faithful" among us detailing some of the ways they might find a way to cash in on their religion. It all started with this Telegraph article which tells us that US debtors, with non-mortgage debt load in excess of $2.4 trillion are turning to their churches for advice which was once the province of financial counselors and bankruptcy trustees.
Debt-ridden Americans are turning to churches for Biblically-based advice on anything from credit card repayments to buying a second-hand car.
Because, why go to a professional when you can get the same thing from the church for no cost?
The churches often use programmes developed by other Christian organisations and distributed within religious communities or via the internet.

They tend to offer a package of advice on budgeting, household cost-cutting and debt management bolstered by a strong Scriptural element.

The church financial programmes differ from secular plans in two key areas: bankruptcy is frowned upon as un-Christian and charitable donations are encouraged, even when the donor is struggling. Participants are encouraged to give as much as 10 per cent of their income to their church.
Oh. OK, so there is a cost. I'm not sure which I would find more painful: the strong Scriptural element or the 10 percent of my income. Somehow a bible-quoting financial counselor isn't high on my list of reality-based individuals.
More than 350,000 families have completed one church financial programme alone, each paying $80 to $90 (£40-£50) for books and CDs about the Financial Peace plan.

The plan, marketed by a radio presenter, Dave Ramsey, has so far been used in more than 10,000 churches.

Do you mean this Dave Ramsey? So, along with all that "faith" you had better have something near $100. Even at the low figure that means that the revenue realized by the Financial Peace plan offered by Ramsey is $2.8 million.

How very Christian!

More than 39,000 churches have used debt reduction techniques developed by the Georgia-based Crown Financial Ministries. Southeast Christian Church runs a 13-week debt course called Financial Peace University.
Crown Financial Ministries is heavy on the Scriptural element. It was founded by Larry Burkett and Howard Dayton who merged their respective churches after "listening to God". (And realizing the power of their combined revenue streams, but let's not go there shall we.) They have set an objective "to teach God’s financial principles to 300 million people by September 15, 2015".

Umm... God's financial principals? Maybe I'm way off here, but wasn't that the part where you just give everything away and wait for someone to give you a new coat? And, what's with the date? Is that the projected financial end time?

Then there's Financial Peace University which is connected to The Lampo Group Inc. which is owned by.... Dave Ramsey! The guy does get around, doesn't he?

One happy attendee provides a testimonial on the course which points out that the sessions on Sunday afternoons are free. You only pay for the course materials! Ninety bucks. And if you can't pay it all up front, FPU will happily take your money, (to save you from an un-Christian bankrupty), in $10 installments.

If none of this appeals to you, I have another idea:

Make a list of everything you spend. (Be honest. No cheating. Yes, the vente skim latte every day has to be recorded.) After a month, add it all up. Write the figure down on a piece of paper.

Now, take your pay stubs for the same month and add up the net income. It must be the figure after taxes and all other deductions are removed. You only get to count the money you actually have to spend. Write that figure down on the same piece of paper above the figure you wrote down earlier.

Subtract the bottom figure from the top. If you get a negative number you are spending more than you earn.

Stop doing that.

And if, after all that, you still feel like you have to pay $90, make a donation to the SPCA and save a puppy.

No comments: