Gracewood moms meet with representatives from Ron Blue
& Company, a Christian financial planner firm.
“I was always taught to work hard and give generously, but I was never taught to save,” said Gracewood resident JoAnna Banks, a single mother of two.
That’s not an unusual story for many single mothers who come to Gracewood, often trailing a checkered financial history behind them.
“Many of our moms are heavily in debt, for a variety of reasons, including poor financial decision-making,” said Gracewood Executive Director Debbie Rippstein.
Now, with the help of a team from Ronald Blue & Co., a Christian financial and investment planning firm, the ladies of Gracewood are being asked to reflect on where their spending habits come from by telling their “money stories.”
“Money stories are painful and joyful experiences relating to finances,” said Pete Tomassi, a Financial Advisor at Ronald Blue & Co. “Through open dialogue, the women of Gracewood are able to identify what they learned from their parents regarding spending and identify relational needs they’ve tried to satisfy with money.”
“By sharing our experiences with finances, I am able to reflect on my spending habits and where they come from,” said JoAnna. “It really opens up my eyes to my reasons for buying.”
By talking about the heart issues behind money management instead of just the mechanics, it allows money to become a meaningful tool instead of something used to meet emotional needs.
“I’ve always known I have an addictive personality, but I never noticed how it carried over into my spending,” said JoAnna. “The team from Ronald Blue & Co. is really teaching me to re-examine my purchases, assessing the things I truly need and what I do not need, ultimately transforming the way I handle finances.”
As part of that transformation, the volunteer team from Ronald Blue & Co. shares the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15:11-32 with the ladies, applying the scripture to money management.
“This parable is a great reminder of how our heavenly father meets every single one of our needs and offers forgiveness from past failures,” said Pete, who was first introduced to Gracewood in November of 2011 when his wife volunteered with the ministry through a church they were visiting.
At Gracewood, Pete’s wife learned that one of the ongoing needs of the ministry was for someone to help Gracewood moms with financial management.
After volunteering his services, Pete quickly found that he was not the only one excited about getting involved and he was soon joined by others in his office, including Managing Director Randy Schroeder, as well as associates Elizabeth Sherrill and Jeremy Joiner.
The women of Gracewood have already begun applying what they’ve learned about financial management on emotional and relational levels.
“In just the past seven months, I have been able to save a substantial amount on a very low income just by watching my spending,” said JoAnna.
“Since Ron Blue & Co. began working with our ladies here at Gracewood, we have seen a significant improvement in the way our moms handle finances, including their ability to reduce their debt and build their savings,” said Debbie Rippstein. “These classes have truly been life changing for them.”
Now that the team from Ron Blue & Co. has addressed the heart behind money stories, they’re now moving toward addressing practical aspects of handling finances. The team has started a nine-week course to take the ladies of Gracewood through Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace” course.
The goal is to start taking a new group of single mothers through the course every four or five months in order to be able to teach the material to all the moms who come through the ministry’s doors, transforming the money management story for every family at Gracewood.