When one decides it is time to take control of their personal finance, how often is religion part of the equation? During economic times, which have created unstable environments, many turn to religion to find motivation and positivity.
How many individuals have turned to religion in times of need, or thanked a higher power when things worked out? Even those who choose to say they don’t follow a particular religion can, in most cases, tie back a money habit based on a religious belief.
This is because, from a young age, families that are spiritual or are practicing, will take the time to introduce their children to a particular religion. I will even bet anyone reading this post, that 99.99% of occasions, where children have studied some form of religion; did so before their first conversation around money and definitely before they had a bank account.
It is in these cases, without even knowing it, a child (or adult) is potentially learning about a set of principles of how a person should act and treat others, including the poor. No matter the religion you follow, there are morals and principles that you must live by. These teachings are naturally applied to real world situations and could carry a monetary value. Religion can become a lesson in finance all before children receive their first allowance.
For me, this is a fact I know from experience. I can remember learning the dollar value of individual bills by how much my mother chose to donate as the collection box went around at my church.
It is these types of connections that leads research firms such as PEW to develop a Religion and Public Life survey, which compares the percentage of college graduates to percentage of house hold income, while overlaying the religious beliefs for those who participated. The results even lead The New York Times to ask the question; “Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?”
It’s a fair question and looking at the data you’ll notice that the more educated make more money, but what isn’t clear and can lead to discrepancies are the population of these religions in America. While Muslims and Catholics fall close to the national average, Reform Jews and Hindus are far from it, being both the most educated and highest earners. Additionally, I felt other key points were missing, such as the jobs status or type and more importantly where they live. These descriptors, along with the population of a particular religion obviously play a role in an individuals financial destiny.
So does religion affect the way we choose to manage our personal finances? Possibly, but in most cases I have to believe it affects finance no more than politics (another argument on its own). I think the question that remains is; Should religion play a role in ones personal finances? If your offering it to someone, my first reaction is no, I am a strong believer of being unbiased. Although, with anything in life, if you’re brought up learning a certain set of morals and beliefs it’s a part of you no matter if you believe or not.