hearing an awful lot about it.”
A 2009 Crown Financial survey (www.
crowncanada.ca) showed a third of Can-
adian pastors had not preached on money
in the past year. Yet 98
per cent of people in the
pews indicated they believe the Church should
be teaching biblical principles about money and
finances, while only 32
per cent of churchgoers
had heard teaching on the subject more
than once in the last 12 months.
Although there might be many reasons for getting into debt – student loans,
marital breakdown, illness, bad investments – most people get there by living
beyond their means. And society – which
is “driven by consumerism,” says Kupecz
– does not help. Credit cards are too easy
to obtain. And the banks, which used to
be conduits for saving, Kupecz notes, are
now conduits for debt. “When you go into
a bank and have a financial issue, what
they do is exchange one debt for another.”
CNCF, with headquarters in Ottawa, was
incorporated in 2001 as a way of “connecting
God’s money with God’s work.” From that
organization Advisors with Purpose (AWP),
a discipleship network of Christian financial
advisors, was developed.
Canada’s burgeoning debt load has led
to a new initiative by AWP – Debt Freedom
Centres, where debt-laden Canadians can
go for financial counselling. Several have already been set up in the Ottawa area, as well
as other parts of Ontario, Alberta and British
Columbia. For $200 a month, a church – or
group of churches working together – can
get enough training and resources from
CNCF to offer free volunteer counselling to
anyone in the community who needs it.
Janet hasn’t yet learned to deal with her
debt, but many others are realizing they
can do something about it, if they only get
the right help.
About 20 years ago Fred Brogan was in
the military and living from one paycheque
to the next. He asked the Lord for “know-
ledge of money.” When invited to become
a director of a company, he leapt in, turned
over his life savings and co-signed for his
partners. “They took the equity and left
town,” he says, laughing at the memory.
But he has no regrets. “If it wasn’t for that,
I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”
Although he was up to $200,000 in
the hole, Brogan managed to pay off his
debts without going bankrupt, learning
about money man-
agement on the way.
Now the owner of his
own financial services
company, the Em-
pirical Group (www.
Kingston, Ont., Brogan
has been helping people with their money
issues for two decades. A member of AWP,
Brogan is determined to make Kingston
Canada’s first debt-free city, a goal he be-
lieves God gave to him.
Canadians across the economic con-
tinuum are challenged by personal debt. A
Statistics Canada survey from 2012 discov-
ered people with higher education levels,
higher incomes, and better knowledge of
the financial world actually have higher
levels of debt, partly because of heavy
At the lower end of the scale, those on
government assistance struggle just to buy
groceries. Nicole Bade, a young Hamilton,
Ont., woman who had to drop out of college because of an injury, defaulted on her
How to get (and Stay) Out of Debt
While many advisors would tell you to consolidate your debts into one megaloan and chip away at it, or tackle the biggest one first, Jan kupecz, executive director of Canadian national Christian Foundation,
warns that can be overwhelming and discouraging. she comes at it from the opposite direction, which she calls the “snowball” approach: Get rid of the smallest
debt first. That way you can claim a victory – however small – and be inspired to
move on to the next debt.
no matter how big or small your income, it is vital to build a budget and stick
to it, says Helen Johnson, national director of Christians Against Poverty (CAP)
Canada. sometimes that means having a coach with whom you can check in
regularly for encouragement and advice.
suggests dropping your credit card into a soup can of water and freezing it to
avoid emotional or impulse spending, thawing it only when you really need it.
accessible) for the time when something goes wrong – a major car repair or a
furnace breakdown, for example.
bought into the bill of goods that says the only way you can buy a car is by getting a loan,” says kupecz, who advocates long-term planning and saving instead.
been benefited from CAP. “It’s a first step, because maybe the people close to
you can give you the resources.”
ling your debt.
powerful today.” But if you stay out of the shopping mall and avoid looking at
glitzy flyers, the desire to buy what you don’t need will be curbed.
For more information, check out these websites:
called Financial Fitness.
com or google “Christian frugal living” for a wealth of tips. FT –DF
get into debt
by living beyond