• FAQ ABCs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The ABCs of Financial Freedom has been instrumental in helping thousands of people and churches all across America turn their financial situations around. Discover the principles that will show you how to get out from under the burden and bondage of debt and enable you to declare your financial independence.

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A ministry of Crossroads Christian Church, Grand Prairie, Texas. All rights reserved

What do I need to do to have an ABCs weekend at my church?

Complete the information on the contact page and send it to us. We will check availability of dates and get back with you. Dates are generally booked one year in advance. A signed agreement and deposit are necessary to guarantee your date. The ABCs agreement explains that.

What can happen to our church's giving by doing the ABCs?

It depends on the church. Most churches see an immediate increase in weekly giving as they begin the program and report a significant increase upon completing the program. Churches that have used the ABCs have experienced increased giving levels between 25 – 50%. Some have exceeded a 50% increase. Churches that follow the ABCs program the closest have experienced the best results. Experience has shown that modifying the program tends to modify your results.

Why has the ABCs program been successful?

Because the book and program were designed and written by a local church Pastor who is completely debt free. The principles and the ABCs program have been used for over 16 years at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, where Barry L. Cameron is the pastor. Current morning worship attendance average is over 6,000.

What happens when a church signs up to do the ABCs?

For a detailed description, please read the information under the How The ABCs Works.

What's the story behind the ABCs of Financial Freedom?

In December of 1999, after being frustrated with financial struggles that seemed to plague their family and keep them from ever getting ahead, Barry Cameron decided to get completely out of debt. He called his family together and discussed what needed to be done. What followed would be considered outrageous and crazy by most standards because they stopped doing virtually everything they had previously been doing in order to apply every available dime and dollar to paying off their debts. The story of how they accomplished that dream is shared in The ABCs of Financial Freedom

On November 15, 2001, they were able to make the final payment on the mortgage for their home and declare their family’s financial independence. Once word got out, leaders across the country wanted him to come and share his story with their church. What’s happened since then has been nothing short of phenomenal as God has used the story of the Cameron family to transform thousands of lives and help churches all over America.

How long does it take to do the ABCs program?

Approximately two months. You provide books for your people to read at least 30 days prior to beginning the ABCs. Then, you preach a four-part series concluding with a commitment card. The following weekend would be your ABCs weekend where Barry or Matt Cameron would come to your church and share their personal story and the Biblical principles that make financial freedom attainable for anyone.

Is there a workbook to go along with the ABCs?

Yes. The Financial Freedom Workbook was designed as a companion to the ABCs and is an excellent tool you can use to enhance your results. It is a 6-week study designed for small groups or individuals.

Are there additional resources available on the subject of finances?

Yes. We have a number of resources available through our bookstore, The Disciple Shop (888.360.7648). Each has been used at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. You can use these resources to follow up on your ABCs program. Please visit the Resources Page for more information.

Should I tithe off my gross or net income?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions. The answer I always give is, “What would you like to be blessed on? Your net or your gross?” My wife and I tithe off everything God gives us. We have even tithed from tax refunds, even though we had already previously tithed off that money. Why? We love being blessed.

Shouldn’t I pay my bills first?

No. Nothing should ever come before God. The very first check should be to God. Jesus promised in Matthew 6:33, that if we put God first, He’ll take care of everything else in our lives. That’s what Lordship is all about. If we put anyone or anything ahead of God, we’re on our own to meet our needs. God needs to be first in every area of our lives, especially in the area of giving. When we put God first, we will always have enough for Uncle Sam, Aunt Martha, Visa, MasterCard and the mortgage company. When we put anything else ahead of God, we’ll never have enough.

What if I get paid monthly? Should I tithe once a month or divide it up each week?

If you get a paycheck once a month, write your tithe check (remember the principle of “Honoring the Lord with our firstfruits” – Proverbs 3:9-10), along with a generous love offering, as soon as you get paid. Give online or give your offering when you go to worship the next Sunday. The remaining Sundays of the month, you can give an offering above that.

When should I give?

Every chance you get! Obviously, you should at least tithe everything God blesses you with and every time God blesses you. If you get a raise, a bonus, a birthday gift, an insurance refund, etc., always give God the first 10%. Beyond that, you should give every time you worship. We sing every time we worship. Pray every time we worship. Read the Scripture every time we worship. We participate in everything else every time we worship. Why wouldn’t we participate in the offering? As you develop a lifestyle of contagious generosity, you’ll start viewing offering time as one of the most rewarding parts of every worship experience.

How should I give? Online, Cash or check?

Giving online or by check makes it easier for those entrusted to count the offering. It also eliminates any confusion over who gave what and removes the temptation from anyone counting or recording to take something from an offering.

Do you encourage online giving?

Yes! In recent years, online giving has become a popular method for people to tithe & give to their local church. This is an excellent way for people to give. If you choose to give online, we also recommend you give something (a love offering above the tithe) as well. That way, you can still participate in the offering just as you participate in the other elements of your worship experience.

Where should I give?

The primary place for your giving should always be your local church. Both your tithe and the majority of your offerings should always go to the storehouse (your local church) where you are being fed. We don’t eat at McDonald’s and pay for the food at Burger King.

What about using giving envelopes?

If your church has giving envelopes and you’re not giving online, use them. Giving envelopes make it very convenient in giving. They also serve as a reminder as you prepare to give each week.

What if I have to be gone on a Sunday?

If you are going out of town on business or vacation, make sure your tithe and offerings are turned in for the period you will be gone. Again, online or mobile giving is the best option. Or, you can mail it to the church office or drop it off before you leave. The financial needs and responsibilities of your church continue 365 days a year. Consistent giving every week enables your church to accomplish what God has called your church to do all year long.

When I give to a special offering, should I use my tithe for that?

No. First of all, the tithe belongs to God, not us. So we aren’t free to divide it or designate it. It goes to the “storehouse,” which is the local church. Until we have given the tithe, whatever we give can’t be considered an offering. We can’t “offer” what we “owe.” Tithing is a matter of obedience. Generosity is a matter of giving more than is expected. So, when you give to a special offering, it always needs to be above and beyond the tithe you give each week to your local church.

Is it wise to be giving offerings for buildings? Shouldn’t that money be used for missions?

Yes and no. Yes, we should be giving offerings for buildings. God didn’t build the Tabernacle or the Temple in the Old Testament, but He did design both of those structures and gave specific instructions on how they were to be built and how His people were to give to support them (Exodus 25:1-40:38; I Chronicles 28:1-21, especially verse 19; I Chronicles 29:1-25).

Does the full tithe need to go to my local church? Or can a portion of the tithe go to outside missions giving?

Yes, the tithe goes to the storehouse – the local church today. (Previously it was the tabernacle and the temple and the priests administered it. In the New Testament and today, it’s the local church.) The tithe doesn’t go to your house, or someone else’s house. It goes to God’s house. Since the tithe belongs to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30), it is not ours to direct, dissect or divert. Tithe to your local church and then, you can give a love offering above that to other missions or ministries.

Does tithing refer only to my giving to my local church, or can it include other charities, the homeless, etc.? (i.e Christian organizations like World Vision, Feed The Children, etc.)

The tithe belongs to the local church. What we give to other ministries above the tithe are offerings, over and above our regular giving, like the offering in 2 Corinthians 9 which was a love offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Giving to charitable causes outside of your local church would be an “offering” you give above the tithe.

Can my tithe include financial help given to friends and family in need?

No. The tithe (10% of your income) belongs to God and is given back to Him as an act of obedience and worship (Malachi 3:8-10, Matthew 23:23). Beyond that, we are also supposed to be sensitive to the needs of others around us (James 2:15-16). We are also instructed to care for those closest to us. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Matthew 6:1-4 talks about giving to the needy. This is something we should do without trumpeting our actions before others.

If my husband isn't a Christian how should I handle the issue of tithing?

First, in accordance with Ephesians 5:22-24 and 1 Peter 3:1-6, you should submit to the leadership of your husband. You will never be able to reach your husband if you rebel against him. Second, if you are employed outside the home you can ask for his permission to tithe your income as a start and see what God does. Third, pray for your husband’s salvation and for God to bless him and your family. When your husband becomes a fully-devoted follower of Christ, tithing won’t be an issue.

Would it be smart to start giving our retirement 401(k) monthly contribution as a tithe each month if we can't afford 10% otherwise to give?

You shouldn’t touch your retirement funds, as you will need them. Tithing is not a matter of being able to afford it. Tithing is a matter of obedience. Truth is, we can’t afford NOT to tithe. The reason you currently find it hard to obey God is because you have been disobeying God. Obedience is never hard unless you have been disobeying. Start obeying God, and watch what happens. When we tithe, God assumes responsibility for meeting our needs. But, we also have to be responsible in our spending habits.

If paying interest on anything is not wise, how could we ever own a home using this principle?

The ABCs teaches when we are paying interest we are paying someone else, not ourselves. Someone else is getting rich, not us. The goal is to get where others are paying interest to us – no debt, growing savings, etc. Obviously, the purchase of a home is the largest purchase most people will ever make and the assistance of a financial institution, in most cases, will be required. If you get a mortgage to purchase a home, pay it off as quickly as possible, knowing that for the first few years you are paying interest (giving money) most of your payment to that financial institution.

What percent of net income should be maximum home mortgage amount (monthly)?

This depends on each individual situation. However, the recommendation should be to keep it as low a percentage as possible. Several years ago, most financial institutions wanted to keep it in the 25% range or below.

At what point does it make sense to apply savings to pay off or pay down your mortgage?

You should develop an emergency fund of at least $1,000.00 for an individual or young couple and $5,000.00 for families. That amount will cover most things that could happen under the category of an emergency. Then, you can begin to apply everything above that to your mortgage. In reality, as long as we have debt of any kind, we don’t have genuine savings. The exception to this would be your retirement. Don’t touch your retirement.

If you can afford your mortgage, and your home appreciates, and you get a tax credit for the interest - why pay it off?

Any financial decision made for the purpose of tax deductions is not a wise decision. You are making decisions that bring great joy to the IRS but make little sense for your financial situation. Why not invest in other areas? Investments are wonderful as long as they always go up in value. However, if you didn’t pay your mortgage off and used that money to place in an investment and the stock market plunged, and you lost all you had invested, you will wish you had applied it to your mortgage. On the other hand, if your mortgage is paid off and you make investments that go south, you will always have the security of knowing your home is paid for.

What are some resources I could depend on so I can avoid foreclosure?

Family members, friends or people who are already debt free and would be willing to loan you money interest free or for a much lower rate than a financial institution. You could check with a ministry like Crown Ministries or Dave Ramsey and ask for a list of organizations that help Christians as well.

Is it smarter to refinance an adjustable rate mortgage to a lower interest rate if it involves additional fees or should I just work on paying it off quicker?

The word “adjustable” is only a blessing if your rate is going down – which rarely happens. If you can get a 30-year or, even better, 15-year loan and the fees are equal to or less than what you would save over the first two years, it may make sense to refinance. Always check with someone you trust – a Christian leader (elder, deacon, small group leader, etc.) or a Christian financial planner, first.

Why do people say debt on a home mortgage is "good" debt other than you can write off the loan interest payment?

The only good debt is a debt that is paid. The term “good debt” on a home is due to the theory that home values always go up. However, as we have seen the last several years, home values can also go down, which would make you change your mind about how “good” that debt really is.

I currently have a Roth IRA Since I cannot afford to save for my child's college right now (and I'd rather have money for her than myself) should I convert my Roth to a 529 college plan? Which is better?

You should seek the advice of a Christian financial planner or church leader before you make a decision. We always encourage people not to touch their retirement because you will need it in the most important years of your life. There are other ways to save for college and you may want to make a list of ways you could save for that rather than touch your retirement funds. We would also recommend your children should be working and saving for college (when they become old enough) and it should be a team effort in your family.

Should one participate in a 401K plan when they have credit card debt?

As long as we have debt, we don’t have genuine savings. However, most people will be contributing to retirement accounts while they still have home mortgage payments, car payments, etc. You should contribute to your 401K plan, but maybe not make the maximum contribution you could make so you can devote some of those funds to paying off your credit card debt. We always recommend you try to find other ways to save and pay off debts without touching your retirement.

Is there a rule-of-thumb for the amount or percentage one should use when saving money?

The 10/10/80 rule is great. 10 percent to God, 10 percent for yourself, 80 percent for all other living expenses. Your goal should be to get to the place where you are able to place as much in savings as possible each week and let someone else pay you interest for a change.

Is a 529 plan a good thing for education?

It is a government-sponsored plan and can be a good plan for some people. A better idea would be to devise your own plan and discipline yourself to do it on your own where you have control over your funds.

What investment earns interest in excess of 15%?

Real estate investments, when the economy is good, can earn more than 15 percent. Some stock investments can earn more than 15 percent. But again, these investments can be risky and are dependent on the nation’s economy (and even more now on the world’s economy.) The return God gives us on the tithe and on everything else we give would be more than 15 percent.

Is investing in stocks and bonds ever a good idea?

We don’t give investment advice for stocks and bonds. However, our practice is to stay out of all risky investments until your home is paid off and you can afford to lose money. Because the reality is, in most investment vehicles, you will lose money from time to time.

What are your recommendations for short and long-term investments?

Proverbs 13:11

What about school loans to get my education?

In today’s economy it’s almost impossible to get an education without them. A debt is a debt regardless of the name we give it. A better way to live would be to save money ahead of time so you can pay cash. It takes time to save money just as it does to pay off debts. If we discipline ourselves to save something every week, we wouldn’t have to borrow for basics or even luxuries. Once we got out of debt and began to save, we were able to pay cash for our children’s college educations – something that seemed impossible when we were in debt. No loans. No paybacks. No regrets. Anyone can do it.

Should we roll our car payment into a debt consolidation loan?

Debt consolidation loans are not a good idea because they don’t address the real issue. You’re just moving to another hole but not getting out. All too often what happens with a debt consolidation loan is that your payment goes down, and too easily you can make the mistake of thinking you have more money now and start spending it other places. But the debt’s are still there and interest charges are piling up on top of them. Our recommendation is it is always better to discipline yourself to pay your debts off without having someone else give you another loan to do it.

How will the growing national debt affect the average individual American citizen?

That bill will come due in increased taxes and fewer services. Everyone will have to pay their share someday; One way or another.

Is it wise to discontinue disability insurance in order to pay off more debt?

If your job is a dangerous job, no. If your job involves very little risk, it might be wise to do. Again, you should seek the counsel and advice of a trusted Christian leader or friend before making such a decision.

What about credit cards and their effect on my credit score?

Making financial decisions based on your credit score is not the best way to live. Get out of debt, pay off your credit cards, and it won’t matter what your FICO score is.

What's a good rule-of-thumb one should use to determine how much they should pay or finance something? (i.e house payment, car payment, child care, home improvement, insurance.)

Obviously, this decision depends on what you can afford. Going into debt presumes on the future. In other words, decisions today that involve debt will affect decisions we would like to make in the future like vacations, making purchases for furniture or vehicles, paying for college education, etc. The best plan is to pay cash for everything and to have as little debt as possible until you have no debts at all.

Everything seems to go up in cost each year (gas, food, utilities) Is there a number or percent a family can use to prepare for the next year’s increased costs?

It’s difficult to estimate the cost of anything a year out because there are so many variables. However, developing an emergency fund would be step one in your preparations. Step two would be to set aside funds for upcoming purchases like vacations, Christmas gifts, college educations, new vehicles, etc. Yes, it will take a while to save for these funds, but once you do, inflation won’t affect you like it would if you were trying to finance all those things with additional debt.

How much financial support should we give our children/grandchildren?

This is a decision each family should make and it would depend on the maturity level of your kids. The Bible says “a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). We should leave the world a better place when we leave and should leave our kids in a better place as well. We should also exercise wisdom and discernment in how we do that and how much we leave. I would recommend, as a beginning point for every estate plan, that you leave at least a tithe of your estate to your local church before stipulating how much goes to your children or grandchildren. These plans can be stipulated in a living trust, will or similar document.

How can we instill the values of the ABCs and Contagious Generosity that we are learning with our children?

Sit down with your children and teach them the same principles you are learning. We can and should teach our kids to tithe, save, and be responsible with their money. We should also warn them of the dangers of debt.

Can the ABCs be of help to a widow, retired and on a limited income?

God’s principles and promises are for everyone. Tithing, saving and managing whatever God gives us in a way that honors Him (Proverbs 3:9-10) will always result in blessing regardless of what age or stage in life we find ourselves. See 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 for additional encouragement.

At what point is the cost of something a good deal even when you don't need it?

Don’t buy things you don’t need regardless of how good a deal you might get. The problem with most Americans is that we purchase things we don’t need to impress people we don’t even know or like, mortgaging a future we won’t be able to enjoy because of a past we’d just as soon forget.

What's the quickest and safest way to get rich?

Start following God’s principles in every area of your life. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you the ability to produce wealth and so confirms His covenant.” Once you are able to pay off all your debts and declare your financial freedom, you will understand you are already rich.