Posts Tagged ‘ debt ’

The Peculiar And Impractical Tradition Of Tithing 10%

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

A week ago when I published “5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013,” I intentionally left off one crucial way that I believe our family saves money. Maybe it’s not so much about it saving us money, as much as it helps us manage our budget with even more discipline and focus.

In fact, out of the 5 impractical ways I listed, I see this “6th way” as not only undeniably impractical, but the most important, for our family, at least:

We tithe.

For us, that means we give 10% of our paychecks to our church. From there, a lot of that money goes to helping people not only in our area, but all over the world.

Of course, that 10% of our income isn’t the only money we give to help others, because we help financially support other non-profit organizations that help people too.

But right off the top of every paycheck, we know that 10% of it goes to our church, which in turn helps other people.

I should be clear about something: It’s not that we have a 10% excess in our income. Not at all. Instead, we build our budget around the 10% we tithe.

(That might help explain why we can’t afford cable or satellite TV, or Internet on our phones, or eating out, or updating our electronics… which I pointed out in 5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013.)

Financial guru Dave Ramsey, who includes tithing as part of his teaching, puts it this way:

“If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.”

If this can make any sense, we can’t afford not to tithe.

We believe that God will bless our family’s efforts as we acknowledge that what we have is not ours to begin with; instead, everything we have is what God has given to us.

So to “give back” 10%, technically isn’t giving back.

But I believe a lot of the importance of tithing has to do with the mindset it puts a family in. In the likeness of feng shui, tithing constantly keeps us mindful of where each dollar we earn goes.

Just like the importance of having a solid weekly budget on Excel, tithing helps us tell our money where to go, before it can tell us where to go.

Therefore, I think tithing is even a good idea for families who don’t go to church, as well as, those who aren’t particularly religious at all.

I would venture to say that a family who always gives at least 10% of their income to, at least, a charity that helps the needy, even if it’s not through a religious organization, is still going to find that they manage their money better than before they started promising to give away 10% of their income.

Sure, giving away 10% of every paycheck is pretty extreme and not necessarily normal.

But I suppose for a family who doesn’t pay for cable or satellite TV, or Internet on our phones, or for the fact we don’t really dine out, or update our electronics, I guess it’s not really that much of a shock that we automatically give away 10% of our income.





Photo: Giving Offering Sharing Blessing Background, Shutterstock.

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The Monetary Value of a Parent

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Nine weeks.

Let me be up front about what this post is not about. I’m not going to be talking about how, despite whatever amount of money we make as parents, that ultimately our value to our children is priceless. Instead, I’m literally going to be talking about the invisible dollar sign each one of us has floating over our heads. It’s that simple; and for me, it’s that deep and fascinating.

From December 2010 to April 2011, my wife and I were worth zero dollars. We had left behind our respectable jobs in Nashville and moved to Alabama to be close to my family and we were both jobless, yet desperately looking. Our education, professional experience, resumes, and determination carried no weight in this different town. Finally, I got a job, but it wasn’t enough for me to support my wife and son- we literally couldn’t afford to pay the bills.

So we moved back to Nashville in July. After returning to my old job, I began making over $15K more a year than the job in Alabama. As for my wife, her old position at Vanderbilt no longer existed, but she was instantly able to get a different job there paying more than I get paid now and more than she was paid before moving away (not to mention benefits for the whole family).

Oh yeah, and I have my sanity back now. I, for one, was in a very dark place there for a while. There was such a hellish, demonic, heavy feeling of worthlessness I experienced when I couldn’t financially provide enough for my wife and son, knowing that I was qualified, capable, and willing. If it wasn’t hell, it was at least purgatory with a broken thermostat.

For months, we had no income; zero. Now collectively, we make over two and a half times more than I alone made in Alabama.

It’s literally a case of “double or nothing.”

Granted, the cost of living is a bit more in Nashville. We are obviously spending a lot more on gas now. My wife’s 20 mile drive to work each day often takes well over an hour (thanks to traffic) and we recently had to buy a newer, more dependable car for her. Plus, our son is now enrolled in a wonderful daycare; as compared to free child care back in Alabama, when my wife was unemployed.

As a family unit, we spend much less quality time with each other throughout the week, as we earn our living. But I have to admit, the time I do spend with my wife and son on the weekends has never meant more to me. I savor every minute.

I had thought our valuable jobs skill and “big city job experience” from Nashville would have helped us tremendously in finding jobs in Alabama. But it didn’t, whatsoever.

Instead, the two of us are worth much more money in Nashville; despite the higher cost of living. I guess it’s just weird now to think about how it was only a couple of months ago that we couldn’t afford to pay our bills.

Today as I was thinking about all this, I reminded myself that finance guru Dave Ramsey actually went bankrupt twice; it was part of his necessary life lesson to became the expert he is today. And thanks to his teachings, my wife and I are able to put his practices into daily use.

Like he says, “Debt is normal. Be weird.” Trust me, I want to be weird, so badly.

My wife and I are now so dedicated to (and educated on) being the best stewards of our income, as we build back our savings, pay off our debts, and regularly tithe to our church and sponsor a child through World Vision.

I hate money. I wish I didn’t have to think about it. But it’s kind of hard not to when I have an invisible dollar sign floating over my head that increases or decreases when I cross the state line.

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