Looking for help with your money woes? Well, you might want to head to church! According to CNN, a lot of places of worship are offering financial help to their members - in the form of classes, seminars and workshops. Take Jennifer Pedley of Brighton, Michigan. When her husband suggested that they enroll in their church’s financial program, she wasn’t interested in learning how to reduce their debt and get on a budget. However, partway through the course, when Pedley started to see the changes it was making in their finances - and in their relationship - she says a light came on for her. In her words, 80 percent of personal finance is personal. It’s about learning how to communicate about money – and listening to your partner’s needs and concerns. That’s essentially the same as communicating about life in general. That was three years ago and now, Pedley hosts the course at a community church in an area where a lot of people depend on the auto industry for their livelihood - and are struggling with a deepening recession.
So, what are churchgoers learning from programs like this? Debt elimination and money management are the basics. “Financial literacy” is also a big part of it, which means understanding the concepts of finance. What compound interest is, for example. How to choose the right investments. How to deal with home equity. Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a personal finance expert and she says pastors across the country tell her that church attendance is up – and people are now are turning to the church for assistance. Whether they need help making their mortgage payment, finding a job - or they simply want someone to pray for them. Now while churches can’t always offer money, they can offer parishioners practical, day-to-day strategies for managing debt. The fact that it’s happening at a church, where people see their friends and neighbors, creates a lot of opportunity for reinforcement. People who see each other every Sunday can say, 'How are you doing paying down those credit card debts?' and offer support and advice. So, if you’re struggling, contact your church and see if they offer this type of guidance. Your bank account won’t be the only thing that benefits.