Jordan and I recently enrolled in a finance class at our church. Enrolling in a class in January was essentially mandatory, and the options were a financing class, a singles class, and a parenting class, so it was pretty clear where we belonged (actually, we were encouraged to take the parenting class, despite the fact that kids are a good six to ten years down the road for us, but that’s a subject for another snark). We did observe that single parents are probably the most likely to need financial help.
$60 got us a fat pack of required resources from Crown Financial Ministries. Amid the Bible memory verses and monthly spending plans are frequent plugs for other Crown products and services, from the homework for the first week’s lesson (to read Crown Ministries book Your Money Counts) to the sample “My Life Goals” worksheet at the end, which lists under Volunteer/Ministry Goals “Would like to volunteer 2 hours a week as a Crown Money Map Coach” and “Would like to lead at least 1 Crown Life Group every year.” Even the memory verse cards (which the manual helpfully points out are “designed to be removed and carried with you throughout the day”) have the verse on the front and the Crown logo on the back.
The scan comes from the Crown Biblical Financial Study Life Group Practical Application Workbook. Our first assignment was to find where we were on the Journey to True Financial Freedom, which lists seven destinations, starting with putting aside some emergency savings and ending with funding your retirement. While the steps themselves, and particularly the idea that you could advance through them over the course of an eight-week class, are questionable (Destination 5: Buy Home and Begin Investing; Destination 6: Home Mortgage Paid Off), the part that really struck me was that the back of the fold-out map lists a variety of books, videos, and software for each step. The scan above is only part of it. The full header reads “Tools You’ll Need for the Journey.”
I decided to add up the cost of these apparently-essential resources.
- “Prepare for the Journey” and “Things to do sooner than later”: Three items, $111. Since we don’t have kids, I’m not counting the kids’ books, and I’m assuming that you only buy the “Business by the Book” book, not the small group study or seminar.
- Destination 1: Five items, $118.80. This assumes that you enroll in the default two-year membership at crown.mvelopes.com.
- Destination 2: Five items, $128. I listed the couples price for the seminar. This step includes most of the course materials we got, which is why I’m not listing them separately.
- Destination 3: Two items, $15. According to the map, one of the items is FREE!
- Destination 4: Two items, $26.
- Destination 5: Two items, $120. This assumes you’re getting the DVD rather than the VHS.
- Destination 6: Two items, $65. I haven’t been including the sale packages available for some of these sets of items.
Total damages: $583.80. Well, somebody obviously has a sound financial plan.
UPDATE (6/20/10): I am unsurprised to report that Crown is now foundering in debt and has earned a one-star rating from Charity Navigator.