People think about money differently, with many of those attitudes and practices rooted in what was observed in our formative years. Frankly, ESR’s experience during this financial acumen program confirms a suspicion carried into the study: people are rarely well-taught or well-informed about money matters. Spendthrifts and big spenders alike may well be nurturing values or battling fears without being aware of it. U. S. society encourages the accumulation of things. Self-worth becomes entangled with net-worth to the degree that one can lose sense of the things that matter. Deficit spending becomes a way life. Meanwhile churches encourage giving for the Gospel, often while investing much of those contributions into organizational preservation. These mixed messages complicate attitudes toward money.
There are multiple ways to tackle the matter of financial acumen. Two opposing views often proposed are to want less, or to earn more. If one wants less, one needs less. Problem solved, so the logic can go. The value of the approach is that it tempers, or not disconnects, from the accumulation mentality that drives much of economy and fuels much personal debt. Earn more sets out to avoid drowning by staying higher than the water line. Its value is that it encourages initiative and responsibility, but a person only has so many hours in a day. Family and self-care matter, and must not be forsaken in the process.
The strategy undertaken here seeks to help students understand the power of money and debt, and from that to make responsible choices about investment and expenditures that will have lasting ramifications on their financial well-being throughout their lifetime. Accepting that ministers did not answer their call with the expectation of riches, can we nonetheless help them avoid a life poverty and hardship? These resources are designed with that purpose in mind.