Mark Cazer of Canandaigua recently brandished a pair of scissors at St. Dominic Church in Shortsville, challenging his fellow parishioners to cut up their credit cards as part of a personal budgeting program.
He also encouraged those who couldn’t bring themselves to take up the challenge to speak about why they weren’t ready to do so.
The credit-card challenge is part of an effort to help parishioners take control of their own spending before their debts become unmanageable.
About 15 of the two dozen people in the class, which is called Financial Peace University, were able to cut up their cards because they had already saved enough money to cover their anticipated living expenses and unforeseen or emergency expenses, Cazer said.
One motivation for cutting up the cards is that people tend to better scrutinize their spending when they pay with cash, he explained.
With the support of the Knights of Columbus, Cazer and his wife, Bonnie, have been leading sessions of Financial Peace University at St. Dominic Church, which belongs to St. Peter Parish. The program, started by investment advocate Dave Ramsey, applies Biblical principles to personal finances, guiding people to understand where they are spending their money and where they can cut back.
"The big problem for many people today is they enter retirement and haven’t gotten rid of their debt," Cazer said.
Cazer said he and his wife had been struggling with their own bills and feared retirement until they tried Ramsey’s principles three years ago. Since then, they have been regular budgeters and paid off what he described as a "mountain" of debt. They plan ahead for expenses big and small — from large fuel bills during the winter to birthday presents throughout the year — and also plan their charitable giving.
He said offering the class grew out of his and his wife’s desire to help their fellow parishioners find the same financial peace they have achieved.
"It has really been uplifting for us and reinvigorated our desire to keep the budget tight and continue to work on debt," Cazer said.