Debt Boot Camp From An Unexpected Place — Church

With some economists saying the economy is improving, there's still a lot of people trying to climb out of financial trouble. Some of those people are getting help in a place you might not expect — their church.

Ken Myers and his wife Regina have been married for 15 years.  They’ve had their share of financial troubles, but they say their biggest problem right now is bad credit.

Ken puts most of the blame on himself.

"I failed to budget and plan originally, and I got tied into pay day loans, and then in order to get out of that I wound up getting another title loan. Then I had to pull from a 401k to clear that up."

The Myers have signed up for a Debt Boot Camp program at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Southwest Houston. Participants will attend group sessions and get one on one help with financial counselors.

Earl Allen, the programs director says his church does a lot of things you might not expect a religious institution to get involved in. But he says it stems from the philosophy of Pastor Kirby John Caldwell.

"His thing is whatever a church member needs in terms of making the quality of life better, some way or another the church should be involved in helping them do that."

The Myers say they used to be in heavy debt, and although they’ve paid most of it off, Ken’s credit has suffered, causing them to put off plans for a new home until the situation improves.

the Myers"We had made plans to do certain things. We invested in those certain things and then I was "robbing Peter to pay Paul" in order to clear it up so to speak, if I can use that term."

Regina: "I don’t want to say that it was all him because we’re in this together. So think that maybe ...  I could have said a little more."

Experts say one way to prevent debt problems is to have a savings.

Covenant Community Capitol is involved in the program, helping those who are low income learn to save by supplying matching funds.

But while Windsor Village isn’t known for having a low income congregation,  Covenant  CEO Steven Fairfield says saving is a skill everyone needs to learn regardless of their income level.

"You could be an attorney making a half million dollars a year and live in West University or Memorial and have a mortgage and living expenses, which take up 500,050 a year, so it just a matter of setting your spending priorities so that you can achieve your goals."

The boot camp isn’t only for church members. Anyone in the community can sign up. But since an estimated 500 people showed up just for the orientation, space could be limited