Monday, April 12, 2010

Tipping vs Tithing

As Tax Day approaches each year I'm always curious what that charitable giving line on my forms will show. Since being called to the ministry (ashamedly I didn't do this before), I've been a tither - 10%. But each year there are little things that pop up that I donate to that aren't part of my normal 10% and they add up quickly. Things such as "donations in memory of" or sponsoring someone to go on a mission trip.

I know that I'm opening up a can of worms here so that I'll get lots of shameless solicitations from people wanting me to donate to their cause and rightly so. If someone is passionate about a cause, they should be able to ask for a donation. Not forcefully, but a polite ask will always go a long way.

So when I look at that line on my taxes and notice that its above 10% I get giddy. I feel like I've gotten God bonus points and perhaps will get to go in the express security line when I get to the pearly gates. I KNOW that this is not the case but for some reason I just can't help but feel good about the good I've done.

But my main question for myself is - what did I do with the other 90%? I'd like to think that I give 100% to God in round about ways. 10% to the church. 10% to save for the future. 80% to live and raise a good family. But somehow those numbers just don't add up each year.

What happens to the new outfit I "HAD TO HAVE"? Where does the money for the kids spring fling fit into? What about when I was too lazy to cook and ordered in?

A few years ago I discovered the joys of a written, detailed budget. I have to give props to Dave Ramsey although as he points out - my grandmother told me the same thing. I put down on paper each month (before the month starts), what I'm spending my money on and its helped me learn a few things:

1) Play money is okay. God wants us to have joy and if I have the means to have joy with a price tag that is okay. If it makes me happy to get my nails done each month then that is okay as long as I make sure to give, save, and spend wisely in other areas. This makes for a happy Shannon and a happy Shannon is a better servant.

2) I'm accumulating less junk. Its amazing the junk one family can pile up over the years. I had a yard sale a few weeks ago and got rid of what would probably fill up an entire room of our house. It felt good. And ever since I've been more cautious of collecting something that will end up in a future yard sale.

3) Sometimes you have to renegotiate your terms. Just like the big companies, sometimes our family has to undergo budget cuts. Unexpected medical bills, car repairs, or job fluctuations cause us to have to re-examine our family budget mid month. We try to plan for the unexpected but sometimes we just don't budget enough and said play money listed above has to go into the new transmission. Its okay. Its not long term and I know I'll get through it.

I hope that you are one of the lucky ones either getting money back or breaking even. Spend wisely and enjoy using your 90% for the greater good.

Until everyone hears,

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