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Michele Faehnle's visit with author Sam Fatzinger encouraged her progress in setting and meeting financial goals.

This May I began a 90-day discipleship program called Be Formed with Fr. Burke Masters and the Diocese of Joliet. This is my second session with the group and it has been a life-changing encounter! It has helped me grow in my relationship with Jesus through prayer, scripture, the sacraments, community and traditions of the church. Part of the program involves the evaluation of a commitment card which are suggestions to help you grow in four areas: intellectual, spiritual, human, and pastoral.

Each month, the goal is to find one or two areas you would like to grow in and to communicate it with your accountability partner to help you stay on track. This month after I sent my commitments to my accountability partner, she shared she was going to be working on “limiting non-essential purchases.” I messaged her that I would pray for her and thought, “I need to do that too!”

Even though I am not a big spender, all the extra trips to various stores always seem to add up each month to more than I expected each month on the credit card. While we don’t carry a balance on the card, I know I could do better in this area (and my husband frequently reminds me how I need to cut back on my discretionary spending).

My hunch to make this commitment was soon confirmed when I received a Facebook message from Sam Fatzinger, co-author of A Catholic Guide to Spending Less and Living More (written with her husband Rob). Sam mentioned she was going to be in town and another mutual friend had recommended that we meet up for coffee. Kind of like a “Catholic friend blind date,” she jokingly texted.


A Catholic Guide to Spending Less and Living More


In preparation for our meeting, I read Sam and Rob’s book. After meeting her and chatting, I was even more convinced that I need to have what she described as “intentional spending” and less “discretionary spending.”


Click to tweet:
5 ways to turn your spending from discretionary to intentional. #catholicmom

Here are 5 things I learned from Sam and put into practice.

Pray first.

Before you discuss your budget with your spouse, pray. Before you make a big purchase, pray. When you feel called to be generous to a charity, pray about what you should give. She recommended praying through the intercession of St. Matthew, the patron saint of finances. Since Matt is my husband’s first name, he is an especially fitting saint for us!

Create a budget - and stick to it.

Every July (beginning of the fiscal year) my husband and I sit down and make a budget. Each year we adjust for increases in bills and new expenditures. While we create this budget, we always end up overspending. Unexpected expenditures (especially with four kids) always seem to creep up. This year we set aside additional money and a personal allowance each month to be used for these things and are trying much harder to stick to it.

Review credit card expenditures.

After many months of overspending, I set a limit on my credit card. I have a fixed amount in the budget I can spend and when I hit that amount, I get an alert text message sent to me from the credit card company. Then I know it's time to put the credit card away for the rest of the month!

Set financial goals.

We meet with our financial planner annually to review our retirement plans and make adjustments. It can be challenging, but it’s helpful to take a look at the long term goals for retirement and college savings. This year we finally got all four of our kids 529 accounts!

Give generously.

Sam wrote so perfectly:

Resist the temptation to hoard your money. Do not be afraid you won’t have enough if you give some away. It’s not yours in the first place; it is just on loan for you to use for the Lord’s purposes.

We have been blessed with so much and many live without. Being generous with our time, treasure, and talent helps us to be less selfish and we are always blessed!

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Copyright 2021 Michele Faehnle
Image: Michael Longmore (2019), Unsplash