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Since when is it “OK” to stop tithing to the Lord in order to pay off your debt?

Posted on : 06-08-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Money

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A friend of ours told us that he and his wife have been not paying tithe and have supposedly been using it to pay off debt (all the while they continue to have cable TV, cell phones for their kids, consume coffee daily at the java place…).

They told us that it was advised by Crown Financial and frankly, I was in shock and disgust… so I did some searching…and look at what I found:

The principle of tithing is just that—a principle. God is looking for the right attitude in a person’s giving.

If there is not a true heart-felt willingness to give back to the Lord a portion of what He has entrusted to us, giving tithes upon tithes would be without purpose.

For people who feel that they cannot afford to give the full tithe because they have too much debt, yet they are willing and want to tithe, perhaps there is an option that can satisfy both situations.

Because God expects us to remain true to biblical principles, if we have made prior vows (in the form of taking on a debt) to man before making a vow to tithe to God, God directs that the vow be maintained in order to present a good witness (see Proverbs 22:1).

In such cases, the tithe should come from the money not already pledged to creditors, but available to disperse.

However, a commitment to give to God would certainly take precedence over any payment to creditors for debts contracted after a pledge was made to tithe.”

Well, Crown Financial “sort of” says it’s ok to send your tithe to your debts, but only if you were not previously tithing. Hum… way to take that concept and distort it dear friends of mine. However, I disagree with Crown Financial and Dave Ramsey also disagrees with their stance, here’s his take:

Many people have observed that after they stopped tithing, their finances seemed to get worse.  In the Book of Malachi, God promises that if you do not rob Him of your tithing, He will rebuke your devourers and protect you.

If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.  It does not require a miracle for you to get through the month.  I think that if you sit down and look at your budget, you will see that you can make it while giving at least 10%.  Read the Bible and take from it what you will, and if you tithe, do it out of love for God, not guilt.”

I firmly believe that the number 1 “line item” in your budget (as a believer) is your tithe, plain and simple. And, a tithe is 10%, not 2%, not 8%, it’s 10%. As a believer, there is no excuse to not be giving the Lord back 10% of what He’s given us. If you have nothing, you can give nothing but your time. If you have little, give back 10% (or more in offerings) of what the Lord has provided you. If you have lots, give 10% plus offerings. When you are in debt, you must be giving your 10% to the Lord and working out a plan to pay your debts to others.

We often have the mindset that it’s “our” money when in fact, it’s God’s money and he’s letting us have some. Tithing is also a matter of obedience, yes it is also a matter of the heart, but first and foremost it is a matter of obedience (which is a direct matter of the heart). God even challenges us to test Him in this (Malachi 3:10). When you do not tithe, you are robbing God (Malachi 3:8). Out of love we obey, and our heart must be right when we obey. Obedience is done with a joyful heart. A heart full of love for the Lord.

We tithe, no matter what our debt is, no matter what other obligations we have. Right off the top of all money that comes into our home (including tax credits!!) we give 10% right back to our local church. We don’t think of it as lost income, it’s just an automatic thank you gift we give with all income. We want so much to do more and we are working towards that day. We have been able to do lots in the past, just not recently and I really don’t like that feeling.

Besides, if there is money enough for anything besides shelter, basic food and clothes, there is money to tithe, period. Yes, that means if you have cell phones, cable, internet, coffee, things you could sell, etc. then you have enough to give back to God.  If you aren’t tithing, as a believer, in no way should you be paying for any additional items, including a “blow” fund.

So true, so true…

Posted on : 04-08-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Money, Quotes & Affirmations

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This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this:  most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time.  Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.  ~Douglas Adams

So you have your own business and you’re trying to get out of debt. Why on earth would you go get a second part-time job?

Posted on : 03-08-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Money

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As someone who has my own business, I see this repeatedly within my industry. People will say they need more income, but instead of putting their nose to the grind stone for an extra 1-2 hours each day, they’ll go out and take a 2nd job, paying around $10/hour. Uh, whatever!

That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve seen people do. Seriously.

There are a multitude of reasons why this is dumb. First and foremost, you have a business, why aren’t you working it? Put that 20+ hours a week you are spending on a second job into your business! Pound the pavement. Put your nose to the grind stone. All too often, the things that will grow and multiply your business are things we don’t necessarily enjoy doing, but just a few hours a week of doing those things will reap rewards upon your business.

Let’s look at the business we are in: real estate. Both hubby and I are full-time REALTORS®. We don’t have another income source to fall back on. We don’t have second jobs. Sure we have ways to help pad our income now, but those ways bring in a ten here, a twenty there. We need more money, so guess what we are doing? Old fashioned things that bring in business: spending more time people-to-people!

I hear repeatedly from other REALTORS® about how bad business is, and every single one of those complainers is blaming it on the economy.  Hum… if it’s so bad, why is it that some REALTORS® are increasing their business in this “bad economy”?  Some have been in the business for a while and get that everything is a cycle.  Others just started in real estate 1-3 years ago and have nothing else from which to gage their business, yet they are plowing ahead.  The thing is, there are always people buying and selling real estate so if you think the economy sucks, get over it and go out and find business.  Don’t wait for it to come to you.

Frankly, small business owners are shooting themselves in the foot when they take on a second job. Your business reputation is at stake and taking on a second job can seriously harm that reputation. How can you be an expert, a professional, if your interests are divided? When I look at people in our industry and they tell me they have another job, I immediately think that they aren’t serious about their business and I wouldn’t work with them for anything. What do you think a prospective client is going to think and do? It’s just a hobby to them.

Get your butt in gear and spend more time building your business. Get out and meet more people, attend more networking events, exchange business cards more often, spend more time on a “power hour” reaching out to past, current and future clients.  ASK for business!

August Update – what progress have we made in debt elimination?

Posted on : 01-08-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Debt Discussion, Money, The Journey

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I just updated the “our progress” section…  hoping to do this on the 1st of every month.

Looks like in the last 2 months of being focused, we were able to eliminate $2,328.62 in debt, which is an average so far of $1,164.31 per month.  With an average of approximately $1,000 per month of debt payoff, it’ll take us approximately 43 months to get rid of auto loans, credit cards and taxes.

That’s entirely TOO LONG.  We’ll keep plugging away at finding any money in any way we can to pay off this stuff.  We want it done by Christmas 2010.

Being able to help, no matter what your situation.

Posted on : 30-07-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Giving, Groceries

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I love having a full pantry, especially when I’ve found things for phenomenal prices (such as free or almost free!!).  Anyway, having a full pantry enables us to help others when they are in need.

I’ve been going through my pantry and freezer today pulling out “meals” in order to help friends of ours going through a tough financial situation right now.

While I’m working towards a monthly grocery budget of $300 for our family of 6, I’m still able to pull from our pantry and give to those in need.

Financial responsibility gives us so many opportunities, thank you!

Oh, you think you’re poor? I can top that! Hilarious video.

Posted on : 28-07-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Quotes & Affirmations

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This is just funny and at times appropriate… in the goal to live as inexpensively as possible in order to not waste resources, to get out of debt and to save money for the future, this video is a hilarious reminder that pride is found in all situations!

Our first grocery shopping trip using circulars, coupons and multiple stores…

Posted on : 26-07-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Groceries, Money

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Years ago I used to do this every week… however hubby and I changed our food consumption to literally only meat, fresh veggies and limited fresh fruits. We pretty much ate nothing else. Not too many coupons available for those limited items so I quit even bothering to look for coupons, although I’d watch for meat sales.

However, we are now a family of 6 with 4 boys that have ginormous appetites and they are only getting bigger. So, our diets have changed and for now, that’s going to have to be ok. Our diets will be dictated by our budget. Our “healthy” eating will simply be that we do not eat at fast food places or restaurants. We will have some version of protein at every meal and it will be very plentiful.

Anyway, the first trip this week was to Albertsons… I used their circular and coupons that I found on coupons.com. I spent a total of $64.00 and this is what I came home with:

  • 20 dozen eggs
  • 4 boxes general mills cereal
  • 2 gallons whole milke
  • 1 loaf white bread
  • 5 half gallons of minute maid brand limeade/lemonade
  • 10lbs chicken thighs
  • 8 lbs cheddar cheese
  • 2 one and a half quarts breyer’s ice cream

This is just one trip and not everything we need for the week, nor is it things we always eat each week.  Because of the coupons and discounts, I was able to take advantage of a few things we don’t normally eat such as cereal, the drinks and the breyer’s ice cream.

As I said I am not concerned about organic or “perceived” healthy foods (ie: low fat, lean meats, etc.)  I am concerned about getting as much “balanced” food for my family as possible, with the lowest price possible.  In fact, our current grocery budget is $500/month but my goal is to get our grocery spending down to $300/month on average.

Should we be relying on the “government” to provide for things we should be paying for???

Posted on : 24-07-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Money, Political Thoughts

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Let’s see… how many people “really” need WIC or foodstamps?  If we treated our inability to take care of our families as the #1 priority in our lives that we “say” they are, we’d be doing everything possible to provide for them, including taking on 2-3-4 jobs, selling the majority of our possessions to provide food and shelter, discontinue our cell phones, our internet, our cable/satellite TV, not take on (or get rid of) car payments, etc.

The fact is, we don’t really treat providing for our family as our #1 priority.  I’ve seen families take on as many money making things as possible to provide, even to the point of one of the family members getting as few as 2-4 hours sleep a night just in order to provide for the family through jobs, odd jobs, part-time work, etc.

I’ve seen families prepare for the inevitable disaster by not buying all of the so-called “necessities” in life (you know the things: movies, tv’s, dvd players, stereo’s, internet, computers, cable/satellite, cell phones, books, stuff to have stuff, etc.) and making sure they had “shored up” just a little to cover in case of that upcoming emergency.

We personally have gotten so “tight” financially that we wouldn’t even buy a cup of coffee at times.  If we needed to be with people in public places we’d just not buy something, it was that simple.   We are watching our pennies so closely now that we are being ultra careful… things such as an $8 business lunch are out of the question.  No it’s not convenient, but it can be done and with a little bit of work and organization, it works out just fine. We’ve given up many things and continue to do so in order that we do not become dependent upon someone or something else.

I’m constantly hearing all of the “reasons” people are receiving public assistance and in every single case they could have made choices prior to the assistance to change the need for assistance.  In most cases, they could be off the assistance quickly, but choose to continue to receive anything they can get. Why aren’t people working harder to change their circumstances while they are on assistance?

Do we realize the impact of this? The cost to society? The intent on this dependancy being created by the ones creating the “assistance” programs? We need to get off our butts and start really taking care of ourselves and our families.  Unfortunately, our country is moving into the opposite direction and has been for over 50 years (it’s all political parties, not just one).  It’s sad… in a few decades people will be so dependant upon the government to provide for them that they’ll essentially be “fat and happy” and the “government” will do whatever they want, because they’ve created a society of dependancy.

So what’s been going on???

Posted on : 24-07-2009 | By : The Wife | In : The Journey

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Let’s see – we’ve been working on selling things… we’ve been working on returning things we never used, followup on money we should have but don’t, etc.

We’ve also been doing freecycle and letting friends and family know about things we are looking for… this has resulted in some pretty cool surprises, more later on that.

We’ve also been insanely busy in our business, and we are taking advantage of it – with real estate so volatile we want to get as much business done when it’s offered as possible.

Oh, and we’ve been enjoying the summer with our kids, spending most of our time in the river!

The Budget – completed

Posted on : 20-07-2009 | By : The Wife | In : Debt Discussion, The Journey

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Ok – this is a part of the getting debt free that isn’t an issue for us.  We’ve had a budget for a few years and have lived by our budget successfully.  Budgets are not something that are static, they are dynamic and fluid.

However, ours has been WAY too fluid the past couple of years as evidenced by our debt.  We’ve also never had the goal to actually live debt free – our focus had just been to … well whatever … living debt free is what it should have been.  We were incorrectly focused and not biblically aligned.  We are changing that now.

I keep a bi-weekly budget as opposed to a monthly budget.  I have it drafted out in a spreadsheet along with formula’s etc.  I just completed all of 2010’s budget – putting bills where they are due, income as it’s expected, etc.  I’m a bit of an accounting geek (just a bit, not too bad) so I enjoy this process.

However, most people do not like this process.  I recommend heading over to Dave’s site and checking out his forms.  Get yourself a budget written on paper, this is a huge first step.  Before you can pay off any debt, you must have a budget and you must be current on all of your obligations.  Dave has recommendations on how to get there and what to do if you can’t meet all of your monthly obligations.  Please visit him for his advice, it’s sound and will make you so incredibly healthy financially you’ll be jumping for joy.

Our budget is completed and low and behold, on paper it looks like we are running a negative every month.  Hum.  I don’t know what’s been keeping us afloat (we haven’t been using the cards for almost a year) as we’ve been meeting all of our obligations just fine.  We did recently purchase a home which increased our monthly housing expenses (ok, it doubled it) and that’s about the amount we are showing negative.

So… now the game is on to figure out how much we can reduce our monthly expenses.

Here is our current monthly budget… I’ll review as we reduce expenses:

  • Tithe – 10% (I’m not prepared to reveal our income so this will have to suffice!)
  • Mortgage – $1304.54
  • Freedom Fund (annual expenses, repairs, medical, etc) – $180.00
  • Electricity – $75.00
  • W/S/G – $75.00
  • Gas – $75.00
  • Phones – $225.00
  • Internet – $50.00
  • Groceries – $600.00
  • Car Payment – $314.54
  • Gas/oil – $300.00
  • Health Insurance – $242.27
  • Toiletries/pets – $100.00
  • Cosmetics – $10.00
  • Hair care – $50.00
  • Tuition – $935.00
  • School supplies – $10.00
  • CC #1 – $65.00
  • CC #2 – $70.00
  • CC #3 – $81.00
  • CC #4 – $87.00
  • CC #5 – $116.00
  • CC #6 – $125.00
  • Gas card – $20.00
  • Macy’s – $70.00
  • ISTC – $100.00
  • Personal loan – $151.00
  • Student loan #1 – on forbearance
  • Student loan #2 – on forbearance

My goal is to reduce this budget by at least $300.00/month over the next 6 months.

First thing we are attacking is groceries/toiletries/pets – current budget of $700/month.  I would like to bring this entire expense down to $600/month immediately.

Second thing we are attacking is internet – looking to find a less expensive broadband option.  We don’t have cable TV or satellite TV or a landline so we don’t get a reduced cost for our internet.  This is in process.  I’m hoping to save at least $20/month on this service.

Third thing we are attacking is our cell phone bill.  However, there isn’t much room on this one… we have 3 lines (mine, his, house/kids).  2 lines have internet access on our phones – we work in real estate and use this frequently throughout the day for MLS access, email communication with our clients/prospects, etc.   The house/kids line is $10/month and that will remain – we want phone access for the kids when we are not home with them.  So, I think the only thing we’ll be able to change on this is phone insurance that we pay monthly – $2/month I believe.  That will be gone immediately.

Those 3 items total $132.00/month of unnecessary spending. Just $168.00 to go!