When you’re drowning in debt, more than your habits need to change. According to the Rev. Dr. DeForest Soaries, climbing out of debt starts with your attitude.
As the founder of the dfree® financial freedom movement, he travels the country explaining how to overcome the spiritual and psychological barriers that lead to spending more money than you have.
The author of “Say Yes to No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom,” Soaries recently issued the “Billion Dollar Challenge” as a national initiative and free resource to help individuals and families collectively pay down $1 billion in consumer debt by the year 2020.
He began preaching this financial freedom theology in 2005 to his 7,000+ congregation at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey. The dfree® strategy was also featured in the CNN documentary, “Almighty Debt”, as part of the Black in America series, hosted by Soledad O’Brien.
Today, more 1,500 churches, 64 Delta chapters and 100 community organizations have implemented the program, which extends beyond teaching financial literacy.
“I believe a lot of impulses drive us to spend – spiritual, emotional, and psychological. A lot of people think financial literacy is the cure, but I was literate. I knew how to balance a checkbook, but I kept writing checks without money in the bank,” said Soaries.
“With dfree®, we go after basic psychology and the emotion drivers. The first three steps in our process don’t even deal with money. They deal with our attitude, our self-concept. If I have to have a certain shirt with a certain logo on it to feel significant, then that’s not a financial problem.
That’s a psychological, spiritual problem. I had to stop believing that because I am a preacher, I should drive a Cadillac and [instead] drive what I can afford. That mentality [had to] change before my money changed,” he noted.
In fact, Soaries said that being broke influenced him to develop a system to get out of debt. The system included a revised attitude towards credit cards. He stopped considering them as extra income and instead used credit as a means to build wealth.
“I’m not against all credit cards, but if it’s a lifestyle, it can kill you. So, we teach people how to use credit properly,” he said. The program also outlines the high cost of using check-cashing companies versus bank accounts.
Soaries offers the dfree® strategy to churches, organizations and individuals at no cost. Participants must purchase the book and workbook (about $15 for both on Amazon.com), however the online course and train-the-train component are free. Also, several Youtube videos are free that cover topics such as “How to Improve Your Credit Score” and “How to Finance a College Education Without Drowning in Debt.”
Financial freedom is a central focus of Soaries’ ministry along with spiritual growth, educational excellence, economic empowerment and faith-based community development.
“The church should be a place of empowerment not just a place of praise. I believe that pastors are called to serve the members and not the other way around,” insisted Soaries.
“Our mission is to empower our people towards financial freedom starting with the individual, then moving out into the larger community.”
To learn more, visit mydfree.org.