Economic lessons from Pope Francis

Personal Finance
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Pope Francis

So it turns out Pope Francis is a bit of a nerd.

As he approaches the one-year anniversary this week of his election to head the Catholic Church, the first non-European pontiff in some 1,300 years has enjoyed a wildly popular run—largely because of his decisions to turn away from the sort of luxury sometimes associated with the head of one of the world’s largest religions or the head of a small state.

The spendthrift ways of Time magazine’s Person of the Year were back in the news Monday as he dumped the Popemobile and took a bus to hold a week of Lenten prayer and reflection in the town of Ariccia, about 15 miles from the Vatican.

Pope Francis has shunned living in the luxurious papal apartment in favor of a more modest residence. Last month, he announced moves to centralize scandal-plagued Vatican finances under the new Secretariat for the Economy, who will prepare the annual budget, call on lay experts for advice and launch surprise internal audits.

This is nothing new for the man. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 to 2013, he moved out of the episcopal palace to live in a small flat, where he cooked for himself, and traveled by bus rather than chauffeur-driven limo, according to the Financial Times.

Spiritual views aside, Pope Francis is practicing what we preach: Living well and living within—or below—your means aren’t mutually exclusive.

Pope Francis image via Wikimedia Commons.