Debt as of 06/09/2012: $92,645.00
Debt as of 01/18/2014: $38,352.38
Total Debt Paid Down: $54,292.62
If you followed our Big Bear site you know that we did several posts on tithing and what it meant to us. That was an interesting segment that got tons of feedback and was about as controversial as we've been in the debt blogosphere. However, through those posts and some of our friends and family we learned about tithing. To tithe literally means to give 10% of your income. At the time, and well basically through 2013 we had been giving about 1-2% of our income to our home church and the Compassion ministry. This was not even close to 10%. After some debate and prayer, we decided to call our giving a church offering.
Lately, we have been convicted about our giving and making our ability to pay down debt an idol. This was how we viewed our money and why we didn't give 10% of our income:
Stating the obvious lets just look at it from a basic math perspective. On paper if we are giving 8-9% more away than our previous budgets that means we can't pay down as much on debt each month. You mean we are pushing our goal of no debt further back! It will take longer?
Yes, we did not want to give 10% because it did not allow us to pay down our debt as fast as we wanted. If we did give 10%, we would not reach our goals that having our debt paid down would give us. What are those goals? Well, here are some that would appear on that list:
- We wanted to be able to eat out more.
- We wanted to be able to buy new clothes.
- We wanted to be able to shop at higher end grocery stores for healthier food products. (*Side Note: It is very frustrating that to be able to eat healthy in this country you have to spend more than to eat the McDonald's diet).
- We want to buy a house.
- We want to take a trip to Hawaii.
None of these things are bad. It is OK to want to advance your place in life right? Yes, it is. At the same time, is paying off our debt just about us? That debt free list doesn't exactly have the WWJD ring to it now does it(not that I necessarily endorse those bracelets)? The more we talked about it and said some prayers we decided that we also want to give back. Not just to our church and community, but to God. Through this process we have been extremely blessed in all aspects of our life not just money. You can call it crazy or coincidence, but we haven't had any major life crises while trying to pay down our debt. Both of us would call that part of God's plan.
It is for those reasons that we changed the course of our giving this month to start the new year. We have begun to give 10% of our income to our church. This is our church tithe. Now for those of you that think that was an easy decision, it was not. Even as good as we have it, we still had some reluctance in making this decision, and not just for our debt free goals! This would also mean that our monthly budget would be a little tighter and not have as much room to fluctuate (especially for emergency Menchie runs!) Yes, we are Christians and we thought about not giving as much. This does not mean we are bad Christians. This does not mean we do not want to help. It does not mean we don't love our church or the missions it provides. For us, this was a spiritual decision that took awhile to arrive at and in the end, I'm glad we did.
When we made this decision, Emily told me one morning about a week after we started our tithe that she was very glad that we made the decision to give more. She also said that she felt more at peace about our final leg in this pay down race. I have to admit that I feel the same. I will post some more on our budget and how we save next time, but I wanted to start out this year with two words: Give Back. You have to make the decision on what you're giving is and why you do it. It may be a tithe and it may not. You may not want to give at all. I'm not telling you to give 10%. We didn't for over a year. Remember though that your worst day or month is not anywhere close to about 70% of the worlds. If you don't believe me check any news site no matter what the affiliation and see what's out there.
"Poor man wanna be rich,
rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain't satisfied,
till he rules everything"
"He must become greater; I must become less"
Bryant and Emily