Debt Software Secrets Revealed

In my last post I spoke about the Snowball Strategy to Debt Elimination. If you make a snowball and roll it down a mountain for every roll, that snowball will pick up more snow and get larger and larger. The basic idea is to achieve your goals of debt payoff by taking the path of greatest momentum.

snowball debt2

 

In my previous post, “Secrets to Debt Elimination,” I also included a video of a young man who walks us through and explains the basics of how this snowball debt elimination formula works. I told you however, and gave you some sites where you can get software to do this for you automatically.

What can you expect to get from the software?

debtfree1You will get a printed plan that you can follow monthly. It will guide you along the way.  Believe it or not, gathering all the bills is usually the most time consuming part of the whole debt elimination process because usually bills are everywhere instead of in one spot.

  1. Get ALL your bills together in ONE place.
  2. Enter the name of each bill (List only bills that can be paid off. Not utilities, phones, rent, etc.)
  3. Enter the balance due on each bill
  4. Enter the interest rate on each bill
  5. *Enter the monthly payments you have decided to pay each month
  6. Enter the MINIMUM monthly payment dictated by your credit card company or loan company

*Why do I need to record what I currently pay on each bill?

Because most people say they have no extra monies to put towards paying off their debt when they actually do. Extra money is found when people pay above their minimums. The idea is to redirect these extra dollars once the software calculates and prioritizes which bill will be paid first. The extra funds will be added to your new priority bill.

What does the software do?

The software will prioritize, calculate and display your own personalized complete debt-elimination plan—year by year, month by month, and payment by payment. It will let you know the month and year you will be completely out of debt!

The software will prioritize payments and will let you know which payment to make to which creditor, and how much that payment should be each month. As each debt is paid off, it’s dropped from the payment schedule and that amount you use to pay is added to the next prioritized bill until all bills are paid off.

Secrets to Eliminating Debt

I would like share with you a timeless secrets to eliminating debt that is mathematical guaranteed to work. Years ago I use to teach on debt management course called, “Debt-Free & Prosperous Living”  by John M. Cummuta. I have used this system myself.  There is nothing like the freedom that comes with knowing that you work because you want to and not because you have to.  I must be honest, I am using the program again because of some circumstances I elected to be in.  However, just like before I have my eyes on my debt freedom date.

Thankless Job!

To be frank,  teaching people to get out of debt was really a thankless job and that is why I don’t do it now. However, please note the principles are priceless – valued treasures! What frustrated me was the that the average person wanted the easy way out. The way of NO sacrifice on their part at all. It was as if they wanted me to look in my crystal ball and give them that evening’s lotto numbers so they could hit it big.

The Bearer of Bad News!

Instead I offered advice such as: cut down on the cable features, the number of times they ate out, entertain cheaper cell phone packages, consider packing lunches, reduce the number of salon visits, etc.  One of my clients actually said to me, “What else you got?”

Behind Close Doors

The debt elimination program that I taught was for everyone who had debt – that would probably be 99% of us.    Some people put their noses up and said,  “It’s for those people over there. I don’t need the program because I am paying my bills.” The truth is they didn’t want anyone peeking into their underwear drawer.  Many people put up good fronts, but behind closed doors their finances were a mess.

Stealing from the Church

woman stealing

I just read an article about a United Methodist church treasurer who stole over $165,000.

Evidently, this woman had access to the church credit card where she used it to pay for meals at restaurants, rental cars and gas. They even have evidence that she used it for wedding expenses and even for visits to the tanning salon.

This went on over a two year period UN-noticed.  It wasn’t until the bank called the church concerning overdrafts that the church was made aware of a bigger problem. After a three month investigation, the church alerted the police.

There are so many issues with this story:

What would possess this woman to steal from the church?

What was going on with the church that they had to have the bank call them?

If you were to Googlechurch treasurer steals money from the church,’ you would find that this is certainly not an isolated event.

It probably started with borrowing just a little, to which the funds could be easily replaced unbeknownst to anyone else.

Once they have established that it could be done with ease and without a trace, they up the frequency, up the amounts and before you know it, they have lost track of how much they owe back.

After awhile, this repeated behavior may lead to justification on their behalf, especially if the church is not paying them.  They may begin to feel entitled, in exchange for dealing with unrealistic work demands, feeling unappreciated or having to deal  with an increased  work load.

How does this happen?

The simple answer is that this happens where there is obviously no accountability and no checks and balances in place. When there are no system checks, churches, ministries or any type of organization are prime targets for abuse.

I sit on a finance committee and the administrative council which is made up of volunteers, and can certainly see how this could happen especially when churches have a tendency to put all their eggs in one basket, relying on a single person to know everything.

What to do to prevent this from happening?

I stumbled across a site called, ‘www.churchcpa.com.’ There is a FREE course entitled, “Church Finances 101” that I believe all churches, particularly small churches could benefit from.  They teach on what types of systems to put in place so that you do not become ‘sitting ducks’ to abuse.

It is so important for more than one person to know about the operations of the church.  We need to see how much money is coming into our churches, as well as, be a witness to the amount of money going out.

We need to spot check the credit card statements, bank statements and a have a list of our regular bills to be paid.

Certainly, this should have been an embarrassment to the church that the bank had to call them to alert them that there was a problem.  The good news is that this experience now forces the church to get organized, get In compliance and get control of their ministry’s finances.

Do you have safeguards in place against misuse of church funds?

 

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7 Reasons They Don’t Give to Church

offering plate

As pastors, it’s really important to know the make-up of our congregation, in particular WHY they may have trouble giving to our church.

Why people don’t give money to the church

1) Money makes people funny

People will give what they want to give and buy what they want to buy.  “It’s MY money!”  Try to enforce rules regarding THEIR money and a friend can quickly become an enemy.

As pastors, it’s important to make them feel good about giving.  This can be achieved with education, services and full disclosure.

2) Don’t understand the spiritual concept of giving

It’s really unfortunate that many people in the church have not been adequately taught on the subject of giving. Gone are the days where you can say, “Just give!”  We have got to educate them.

A business concept that, I believe, can be applied here is the W.I.I.F.M. principle – “What’s in it for me?”   We’ve got to show them the spiritual benefits of obedience.

If you are not comfortable in this area, consider getting a speaker who is GIFTED in the area of teaching on giving. At the very least, consider purchasing stewardship DVD’s or  reading articles to help you address this delicate subject.

Some ministers and or ministries that come to mind include: David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, Adam Hamilton, Stewardship Ministries and Crown Financial.

3) Knee deep in debt

Like the world, many Christians are up to their eyeballs in consumer debt from the over use of credit cards to buying homes and cars far beyond their budgets.

Many people, including pastors, are in this situation and are in need of some debt management training. It would be a great idea to seek out some resources in this area.  Why? Because inDEBT Christians DON’T Tithe!

Dave Ramsey’s,Total Money Makeover or Dumping Debt DVD’s is a great place to start in addressing this problem.

4) Can’t see where the money is going

People need to SEE something.  There needs to be evidence that funds are going somewhere.  It is important especially to the biblically illiterate member to SEE some tangible things happening with funds.  This is particularly true if pastors are frequently asking for money.

5) Don’t agree how money is spent

This is one sure way for obstinate members to keep monies in their pocket.  They may see some purchases as lavish and unnecessary.

As pastors, it is important to COMMUNICATE with your congregation, the VISION for the church. They NEED to see evidence of planning and NEED to be assured that the church is ALSO being a good steward.  Being up front and open with your church will assure that funds will continue to come in.

6) Volunteer instead of giving to the church

Although we celebrate all of our volunteers who selflessly donate their time and talent, we simply can’t pay tangible bills on time and talent.  Dollars in the form of  tithes and offering are MANDATORY to operate the church.

Volunteering is CRUCIAL in the life of any church, however; it should NOT be done INSTEAD of making financial contributions but in ADDITION to.

Pastors MUST communicate this message clearly.

7) No clue how much it costs to run a church

We tested this theory one Sunday morning and had people shout out how much they thought it cost to run our church per year.  Some  shouts were as little as $25,000 to as high as $150,000.  We then disclosed what it was: $600,000.  We witnessed jaws dropping in disbelief.

I am convinced that some people believe, like Jesus multiplying the two fish and five loaves of bread to feed the multitude,  that somehow we can turn their $2 a week contribution into $200.

They also think because we are a church that we are EXEMPT from any penalties,  the results of which could be quite embarrassing especially when the bank padlocks our doors for lack of payment or the electric company cuts off our lights, heat or air or the phone company shuts off our phones or Internet.

As pastors, it’s important to give the congregation a TRUE sense of the church’s financial obligations. Show them an itemized listing of ALL the church bills. List them in the bulletin or display them on the screen.

It’s not enough for you to just say it. They need to SEE how much the mortgage is, SEE how much it cost to keep the lights on, SEE how much it cost to heat and keep the church cool. Doing this will give them a better appreciation on how much it costs to run a church and hopefully give them an incentive to do their part in being consistent givers.

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3 Reasons to Consider On-Line Giving

giving online

Our church is currently in the process of restructuring our finances and committee roles.  We are adding, revising, and or deleting policies, functions, and systems.  We are also considering some new functionality.

We sat in a meeting on Thursday and literally wiped our brows having narrowly escaped the three foot snow storm that hit New York and Massachusetts.

We, like so many churches simply could not afford to ‘CLOSE’ church. Bills have to be paid and so do employees of which the pastor is one.

This narrow escape forced us to address the subject of online giving AGAIN moving it this time UP on our priority list.  Instead of discussing things-to-death we made a conscious effort to implement this task.  We even decided to enforce a deadline date as we simply could not afford to procrastinate any longer.

Three concepts we had to come to terms with:

1) We are living in a ‘cashless’ society.

To prove this point eight people were around the table and only two of the eight had cash in their possession.  The rest of us said that we had our Debit cards.

Interestingly enough, the average age of our committee was 60. So if 80% of our committee operated mostly using our cards, this only confirms what the majority of people are using – their CARDS.

2) Great number of people bank online.

Again, using our meeting as a sample poll, this percentage dropped by 50% as some people around the table still wrote checks to pay their bills.

I think it is also important to note that the oldest in this meeting was 74 and the youngest was 51. Those under the age of 60 ALL banked online.  Suffice it to say the average adult between ages 27-60 also bank online.

Why is this important to note?  Because we anticipate that when we finally introduce the concept to our congregation, it should be met with minimal resistance to the average person already familiar with the automation.

3) Closed church, closed wallet.

Weather is not the only obstacle, last year we had a mysterious power outage.  It did not only affect the church, but all the surrounding businesses and residential areas.  Everything was shut down. This lasted for four days.

What’s the significance? It’s the temptation to spend that which would have otherwise been earmarked for the offering plate.

To some, especially those not sold on this tithing thing to have to double up the following Sunday is more than they can bear.  It’s something about giving ‘the CHURCH’ that much money. See the humorous story called, ‘The Pastor and the Successful Young Man.’

The Real Benefit

Once you are set up to receive donations, contributions, tithes and offerings online, you will not be in FEAR when there is inclement weather or when there are mysterious power outages that keep you from having church services.

Many churches, from my research, have enjoyed more ‘consistent’ giving among their congregations as many of them have set up their accounts for a particular amount to be taken out at regular intervals of their own choosing.

This automation helps the member stay faithful in his or her giving as well, and of course, it eliminates the anxiety of having to double or triple their tithes on account of church closings.

There are many online giving companies that will assist the church in setting up this feature on their websites.  You can, of course, do your own due diligence, but here are just a few companies I put together that offer this service.

What is your back up plan if you had to close your church unexpectedly? How is the giving at your church?  What would happen if you couldn’t count on two of your largest tithers?

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