April is full of so many events and deadlines! Tax Day! End of the semester papers! Holy Week services! And for some pastors, late April and May also will include long overdue vacations and respite.
April is also Financial Awareness Month. Through our research with United Methodist pastors across North Carolina, we know that finances are an incredible stressor for clergy. Factors contributing to this stress include out-of-pocket moving expenses, expenses for the ordination process and the repayment of student loans, just to name a few. Whether pastors are single or married, caring for elderly parents and/or children, the call to ministry is likely to create moments where they feel emotionally AND financially depleted. It’s not just on a personal level either; as church members move or lose jobs and church offerings dwindle, church expenses (and sometimes apportionments) typically remain the same.
There are lots of resources out there to help reduce the strain. One of these is the Society for Financial Awareness, otherwise known as SOFA. This California-based non-profit organization works throughout the country with a single mission: “to end financial illiteracy across America, one community at a time.” The SOFA website is user-friendly and includes short YouTube videos that further outline the organization’s purpose and the services it offers.
While many of you have no doubt taken steps to ensure your fiscal fitness, SOFA is equipped with financial professionals who work pro bono and conduct seminars nationwide to enhance financial awareness. Seminar topics include “Getting fiscally fit,” “Financial blunders: Lessons we never learn,” and “Exploring your options for a quality retirement,” among many others.
If this sounds like it would be a helpful tool for you to try with church members or a peer group, take a look at the SOFA seminars offered near your home or church. A list of nearby speakers is available here.
Additional Financial Health resources can be found here:
Free Financial Planning for UMC Clergy
– Angela M. MacDonald
Image by Flickr user Ken Teegarden, via CC