One of our tasks as Catholics is responsible stewardship of the resources God gives us. Our money, our time, and even the earth’s natural goods are God’s gifts to us, and He calls us to use them responsibly.
For those of us out in the working world, our task is one of responsible stewardship of our financial resources. For millennials finishing college and entering a new phase in life, financial independence from Mom and Dad can seem daunting at first. To that end, the Diocese of Orange is partnering with Farmers & Merchants Bank to host Blessed and Broke, a lecture series on financial independence for millennials. The purpose of this series is to equip young people with the know-how to build their future on a secure financial foundation, giving them confidence to succeed throughout their life, all while living as faithful adults.
The first of this three-part series was held Oct. 11 at Christ Cathedral, and focused on money management. Farmers and Merchants’ vice president for concierge services Veronica Funaro presented the basics of creating a spending plan, keeping some of your paycheck for savings, and distinguishing between mere wants and genuine needs.
The evening’s presentation centered on the importance of creating a personal spending plan, which gives a clear snapshot of your financial situation and allows you to see how you can adjust your habits from month to month in order to remain financially stable. The essence of a personal spending plan is that you lay out your monthly income and all expenses — everything from monthly rent to a pack of gum — in a single place to ensure that income exceeds expenditures.
If you are spending too much, it might be difficult to see which expenditures could be cut. Funaro stressed the importance of distinguishing needs from wants. She also presented a helpful list of easy tips for decreasing spending without cutting back on essentials. These included leaving credit cards at home and only taking cash when possible, and having a dedicated “no spending day” each week. Simple changes in your routine can result in significant savings by month’s end.
The evening’s presentation also stressed the importance of regular saving. Funaro recommended saving 10 percent of your income for rainy-day funds. A healthy savings account should include about three months’ worth of expenses at any given time. By putting away a bit of money each month, you are securing yourself in case of a future unexpected emergency, or simply guaranteeing some peace of mind for when things get tight.
Funaro sees financial literacy as especially crucial for millennials. Many twentysomethings might not be thinking about their financial future, but, she says, “one day you’re not going to be twenty-three. Do you want to live in your parents’ home the rest of your life? Probably not. You’ll never get there if you don’t start at this age.”
What is the biggest financial challenge facing millennials today? Farmers & Merchants’ CRA Compliance Officer Cheryl Ryman says, “Wants versus needs. Prioritizing, recognizing what you can and can’t do with what you have.”
Joseph Cinemato, young adult minister at Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach, appreciated that the tools provided at the event — such as the mobile phone apps that track spending — were geared toward tech-savvy young people. “I loved all the resources that they put together. That was probably the most useful thing because it kind of took everything that they were talking about, and provided very simple apps and websites that we can use, which is what our generation is most familiar with.”
Michael Whitehouse, a parishioner at Holy Family in Orange, is grateful that the Diocese has begun the initiative of teaching financial literacy to young adults. “It’s great to see the church reaching out beyond the church doors and talking to us about such a topic… This series points us in a good direction… I’m excited to see what the next part of the series has to offer!”
Armando Cervantes, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese, says that the purpose of the series is to let young adults know that the Church is there for them in every aspect of their lives, even areas that aren’t traditionally thought of as spiritual. He hopes the series will be “an opportunity to learn more about connecting the practical life, your day-to-day things like finances and relationships. Our hope is to be able to reach into that part of the young adult reality, and for the church to be able to support young adults.”
Similarly, Young Adult Ministry Coordinator Cecilia Phan sees the Blessed and Broke series as “not just about, ‘Look at me,’ and ‘I’m making all this money.’ A part of how we are called to discipleship is to lead. We are blessed… how do we take that blessedness and take that out into the world and share that?”
The next two Blessed and Broke events will focus on several topics, including how to make your money work for you through investing, how to bring down your debts, and financial preparations leading up to marriage. They are scheduled for Nov. 15, 2016 and Jan. 17, 2017. For more information: blessedandbrokeparttwo.eventbrite.com.