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Former Catholic priest confesses credit card woes

Published: Tuesday, April 24 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

Philip Cioppa, former Catholic priest, said he turned to credit cards when his salary wasn't enough.

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One former Catholic priest confessed troubles with credit and debt when his salary wasn’t enough to cover his expenses in a recent article on Credit.com.

Philip Cioppa, a former Catholic priest, now serves as managing principal and chief investment officer of Arbol Financial Strategies LLC. Before leaving his priestly duties, he made $18,000 a year, but after car payments, life insurance and personal care expenses, he was left with about $11,000 annually.

Cioppa turned to credit when his earnings weren’t able to cover all of his expenses.

After serving as a priest for more than 18 years, Cioppa had accumulated more than $54,000 in credit card debt.

The former priest also began applying for multiple credit cards after receiving his first.

“I thought, what could be the harm of having some additional credit cards?” Cioppa said in his Credit.com column. “After all, I had no savings and made very little money, so the cards would provide me with a ‘cushion’ in times of need. Unfortunately however, I began to rationalize those ‘times of need’ as a dinner here and there, new clothes and other ‘essentials.’ ”

Cioppa sought help from a nonprofit debt consolidation organization, set a 5-year goal to become debt free and swore off of credit cards.

He paid it off in just over four years, but not until after he was forced to give up dining at restaurants, elaborate vacations and other expenses.

Now, the priest turned financial adviser has been debt free for five years.

“So what is the lesson in my story?" Cioppa said in his article. “No matter who you are, what you do for a living or what stage of life you are in, stop the madness and say ‘No’ to credit card debt!”

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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