Robert is crumbling under the financial pressure we are feeling. Although he works full time and has had a promotion, and I work full time, we are not able to meet our financial obligations. Once the necessary bills are paid, there is little left over for purchasing clothing and sometimes even food.
I do not want to pull our four children out of sports activities because I hope their college funding will include some sport scholarships. Because the older boys are in practice after school and going to games on weekends, they are not in a position to get a part-time job. Trying to cope with our finances puts a lot of stress on us.
It is frustrating to try your hardest and fall short of being able to provide for your family. We live on a shoestring. We have always been fairly thrifty with how we spend our money. I think our priorities have been in order, but in today’s economy, with health costs rising and my employer no longer paying for our health insurance, we seem to always be behind the eight ball financially.
My job often requires overtime, but because I am considered in “management” I do not get paid overtime, but that prevents me from taking on another part-time job. Meg cannot take on another part-time job either because she needs to be home with our boys. We are putting some purchases on our credit card, but that will just result in our paying out interest in the long run. I feel very upset that we cannot get a handle on this problem.
What do they do?
This couple appears to be doing all the right things, but seem caught in the grips of a difficult economy. They may need to look at getting their mortgage refinanced at a lower rate or possibly consolidating bills under a plan that will provide more cash on hand each month. Going to a financial manager also requires a payment for the help such a manager might provide.
Robert and Meg are middle income earners who are caught between the rich getting richer and the poor getting many financial breaks from the government. Robert and Meg are responsible and not spendthrifts. They have the best interest for their family at the forefront as they encourage their sons to pursue the sport activities that may provide scholarships for their future educations.
Certainly praying about this financial situation is first and foremost for “God is the blessed controller of all things” (1 Timothy 6:15). Robert and Meg have a lot of company with their financial situation. They are part of middle America that is being pinched.
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Refinance your mortgage and trust in God, is that all the Church has to say to the middle class faithful about family finance?
The McBlains are the grandparents that all of us wish we had, and I have read some profound wisdom in their columns of the kind that can only have been produced by a lifetime of faith and fidelity. But the advice the McBlains gave in their most recent column to the financially strapped young couple is a sorry commentary on how little the contemporary Church has to say on family finance.
Relief from the financial vise that is crushing the middle class faithful is to be found in introducing into the US economy the principles of Solidarity, the only economic theory that has ever been advocated by the modern Church as consistent with Catholic Doctrine. Solidarity is most definitely not socialism, but its implementation would require profound structural changes to free market capitalism.
Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party incorporates Solidarity in either their rhetoric or their legislative initiatives. The one exception that is worthy of note is Representative Paul Ryan. His efforts to introduce the principles of Solidarity into public discourse have been met with indifference and have failed to gain traction. Scandalously, the Catholic liberal press, Commonweal, America, the National Catholic Reporter, etc., along with more than a few academics from historically Catholic universities – instead of encouraging the dialogue – questioned his grasp of the theory and his efforts to apply it to the US economy.
Solidarity is not foreign (French), outdated or impractical. The hierarchy, Catholic universities and the Catholic media (starting with Catholic Philly) need to ignite a discussion of the principles of Solidarity.
In fairness to the McBains, the financial dilemma that their inquiring young Catholic couple find themselves in, along with the millions who match their profile, is not going to be solved with individual financial advice, but with collective advocacy on behalf of the introduction of the principles of Solidarity to reshape the US economy. No Catholic, left, right or center, should be dismissive of Solidarity as an antiquated, impractical theory, and advocacy of its principles should be on the agenda at the World Meeting of Families.