Book offers valuable guidance on Catholics' finances but has limits

"How to Attack Debt, Build Savings and Change the World Through Generosity: A Catholic Guide to Managing Your Money" by Amanda and Jonathan Teixeira. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2021). 303 pp., $29.95.

In "How to Attack Debt, Build Savings and Change the World Through Generosity," Amanda and Jonathan Teixeira tell how they have -- in just a few years -- paid off their college loans, adopted three daughters (and paid the expenses of adoption), bought a home, established their own financial security and started a company that teaches others about managing their finances.

The story they tell is enjoyable to read and engaging. The few success stories they offer from their clients show that their approach to financial freedom works for others as well.

"How to Attack Debt" is a valuable primer for anyone who wants to understand finances. For each topic, whether discussing types of debt, credit cards, life insurance, purchasing a home, investing options or saving for retirement, the Teixeiras introduce the topic, define the terms clearly and then offer their opinions on what they think are the best approaches for each.

At the heart of the book are the key themes that make up the Teixeiras' WalletWin financial process. They teach the reader how to understand money, budget, protect against calamity (buy insurance), develop a savings plan, become financially secure and be generous with those in need. For someone needing help gaining the upper hand on financial matters, this book will be a valuable tool.

The Teixeiras offer strong opinions on a number of subjects that, while accurate, are also limiting. For example, they have a strong aversion toward using credit cards. While it is true that some people misuse credit cards and run up debts that they then struggle to pay, others use credit cards to manage their spending, paying the bill completely each month to avoid interest expenses.

Simply put, the Teixeiras offer one approach to saving and paying off debt, but there are others that the reader might find effective.

While not "judging a book by its cover" is good advice when it comes to developing opinions of people when you first meet them, the words on a book's cover should honestly indicate what the book will address.

The Teixeiras deliver on explaining how to attack debt and build savings but don't succeed in explaining how to change the world through generosity. What they write about generosity is inspirational but there isn't any guidance on how to change the world with one's generosity.

How might I set up planned giving that leads to lasting change in a person's life -- such as endowing a scholarship to Catholic elementary schools? Such guidance would have been helpful.

On the claim of being a "Catholic guide" to money management, while the Teixeiras are Catholic, they offer little beside quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and recent popes and an occasional story about a Catholic saint for Catholic guidance. Little is offered about how their faith shapes their advice or the decisions they've made, outside of the section on generosity, which is well done.

For example, why might one's Catholic faith influence the stocks one chooses to buy or where one might live? What should a person read to understand Catholic teaching about the just use of money? These subjects are not addressed. That said, publishers determine titles, not authors, so don't judge the Teixeiras too harshly for these omissions.

Congratulations to Amanda and Jonathan for their success in getting out of debt and for teaching others how to do the same. Their book will be a valuable contribution to many young adults as they engage in the financial world.

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Mulhall writes from Louisville, Kentucky.