Author Topic: Tithing with a 'Stache  (Read 28752 times)

Lyssa

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #50 on: December 09, 2014, 08:01:59 AM »
My thoughts, from a UK perspective:

10% tithe was traditional here before industrialisation. It was given to the Church, and a portion of that money was used for 'poor relief', I guess an early form of welfare.

I have read old Church accounts and seen payments and gifts being given to people in my parish. In a late Georgian ledger I found the Church bought, 'Candles, wafers' and then the next entry was 'bonnet and swaddling cloth for Widow Webster' (who we assume had recently had a child and obviously had no husband).

Fast forward to today, and, in the UK, the Church of England is no longer responsible for looking after people in this way. We all do it through our taxes (which, yes, pay for other stuff as well). I received my statement of what my taxes were spent on just last week, and about 1/4 of those taxes were spent on welfare, and IIRC 1/5 on the old age pension, both things previously covered (ineffectively, to say the least) by the 10% tithe. My personal tax rate was about 28%, I think, but obviously this excludes purchase tax, car tax, council tax (a local tax here). 

I therefore feel that I have done my 'tithing' (and I would like to note that I am very happy that my taxes are spent alleviating poverty).

I do also give to charity, but only approx 1% of our income. I chose charities carefully based on where I get the most bang for my buck (Bill Gate's 2014 letter is great on this). I chose education for women, and free contraception. Educate the women, most other issues (such a high birth rates and corresponding high infant mortality rates, lifelong poverty) abate. And I don't think anyone should have children they don't want just because they do not have access to contraception.

But I guess it depends what your Church does with the tithe. A recent trip through the deep south (small sample, I know) made it appear as though some churches in the US spent huge sums of money on large brick building with massive tarmac'd car parks, whilst members the congregation lived in what I would honestly call shacks. I hope that is not the case and they are collecting money to assist the needy, but if so maybe they need to work on their PR. (Loved the South BTW, and saw much luxury as well. It just struck me how much more sturdy the church building looked compared to the homes around them, especially considering the extreme weather they had to endure (extreme to my northern european eyes).

This. Back in biblical times tax rates were very different than today and so was the relationship between religion and state. To give a fixed percentage based on acient scripture does not make a lot of sense to me.

To those who tithe: do you give ten percent of gross or net? And how have you decided for either? Personally I think net would be a lot fairer for church members living in high tax countries. :-)

FarmerPete

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #51 on: December 09, 2014, 08:26:21 AM »
In the OT, the Jews were actually instructed to give three tithes.  Two of those were yearly, and the other was every 3 years.  That equates to 23.33% of your income.  As others have stated, a lot of what churches were doing then is now done by the government.  Most church attending members give closer to 2% than 10%.  The way my church has encouraged people to give is to give until you feel it.  That doesn't mean it has to hurt.  It means that if you're living a MMM lifestyle and still barely have enough for food for your family, giving $50 a year is more than enough.  If you're living off 20% of your income, giving 10% probably isn't enough.

As to the FSM comments, I wont take you seriously until I see pictures of you out in public with your colander hat.

mak1277

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #52 on: December 09, 2014, 09:09:18 AM »

To those who tithe: do you give ten percent of gross or net? And how have you decided for either? Personally I think net would be a lot fairer for church members living in high tax countries. :-)

Our church tithes on regular salary are 10% of net.  Any windfalls (bonus, tax refund, etc.) are tithed on a gross basis.  I personally believe that we should tithe on gross (render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's, render unto God what is God's...to me that means the two are separate and unrelated)...but I am comfortable following what I described.  In addition to that we give to missions and other non-church charities.  Charity/tithing is the second biggest line on our monthly summary of expenses, only narrowly less than mortgage payments.

TerriM

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #53 on: December 09, 2014, 09:34:02 AM »
+1 with the advicist

Canada has much higher taxes than the US (except maybe Alberta, because of the oil money).  Historically the tithe was 10% to the church and 10% to the local lord - so 20%.  Here I pay more than 20% in taxes, which cover both the functions of the secular rulers and the clergy.  However, Canada has much stronger safety nets than the US, so I think that the money I would give to charities if I lived in the US (that make up for the poor safety net) is going to the government here.

This does not mean that I do not give to charities - I do in both time/labour and money - but I do not see the need to get to 10%.  I think that the posters who are doing the full 10% have all been from the US, and if I were in their position I would most likely be at 10% as well.  But they should not think less of those in other countries who do not give the 10%, the social circumstances are totally different.

Tax rate definitely matters.  If I understand correctly, some countries tax at 70% (with a huge safety net).  I think tithing on after-tax numbers or making an adjustment that makes sense to you is perfectly fine.  It's not like you saw that money in the first place.  People's tax rates vary hugely even in the US.  Because we're in a major city where both salaries and costs are higher, if I were to go back to work and be self-employed, I'm looking at a 55% tax rate.  So I get what you're saying!

FLBiker

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #54 on: December 09, 2014, 09:43:49 AM »
I do agree that part of the spirit of charity / service is that it is supposed to be a sacrifice, and I think this is a very interesting question.  I was raised athiest, though, so I don't have a lot of background in this.  My wife and I recently joined a Buddhist group, and I don't know what percentage we give -- we give some annually, but also weekly / per event.  And I absolutely see this as an essential part of our budget. 

I'm also in a 12-step program, and a common refrain regarding service work is that if it's convenient, it isn't service work.  That has been a helpful reminder for me whenever I've felt a pang of annoyance at having to give someone a ride or get somewhere early to set up or whatever.  I feel the same way about service with my sangha.  My initial impulse is (usually) to look for convenient ways to serve, but I try to go beyond that, at least some of the time.  So, personally, if I was already giving a fair amount (which it seems like the OP is) rather than increasing the amount of money I was giving until it felt like a sacrifice, I would probably look for ways to do more of other types of service.

And, as a reformed aggressive athiest, I find those straw man arguments and aggressive opinions to be both rude and boring.  Be confident and comfortable in your beliefs and leave everyone else alone.  Good advice for religious folks and athiests alike.

TerriM

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #55 on: December 09, 2014, 09:47:54 AM »
I do agree that part of the spirit of charity / service is that it is supposed to be a sacrifice,

Out of curiosity, why?  If everyone had food, shelter, clothing, and health care, would we even need to do charity anymore?  It seems to me like the goal is to help people to a level of living that we would be comfortable with ourselves, not to just give money for the purpose of feeling a sting.

mak1277

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #56 on: December 09, 2014, 09:55:24 AM »
I do agree that part of the spirit of charity / service is that it is supposed to be a sacrifice,

Out of curiosity, why?  If everyone had food, shelter, clothing, and health care, would we even need to do charity anymore?  It seems to me like the goal is to help people to a level of living that we would be comfortable with ourselves, not to just give money for the purpose of feeling a sting.

That's kind of a strange goal to me...if everyone followed that theory I think there would be a ton of non-profit organizations that received no donations at all.

MandalayVA

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #57 on: December 09, 2014, 09:56:14 AM »
Or you can follow me and join the ONE TRUE CHURCH and obey the ONE TRUE RELIGION.  All Hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), the ONE TRUE GOD.  Pray that you, too, are touched by his noodly appendage!


I named my wifi at home "Noodly Appendage" because in order to connect you will have to be touched by it.

I'm totally stealing that.  The name, not your wifi.

FarmerPete

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #58 on: December 09, 2014, 09:57:20 AM »
I've gone back and forth between tithing on gross vs net.  Personally, I think it doesn't really matter.  Make the choice that you're comfortable with.  I've never felt much conviction to tithe on the actual money that I pay for taxes.  That meant the only real question was do I tithe on my retirement savings or not.  I decided to treat them exactly like the governement.  If it's a Roth, I'll tithe now, but remove the money "Tithe free" in retirement.  If it's taxed when I remove it, I'll tithe on it then.  I did it that way so that I could still support my church and charities, even after FIRE.  I don't want to freeload on them for 30-50 years.  Even though it will be less, it should at least cover my incurred costs and more.

On a side note, I also set up a Charitable giving fund through Fidelity.  Best decesion EVER.  If you are currently giving cash to charity, you can save so much tax by giving appreciated stocks.  For example, lets say I decide to give $5k to charity this year.  I could give $5k from my cash account and it would cost me $5k.  Lets say that I have a mutual fund that has appreciated by 50% in my taxable brokerage.  I can transfer 5k in shares to my charitable fund, not pay income tax on the profits, AND I can claim the entire amount as a charitable gift.  I can then take my 5k in cash and buy more shares of the mutual fund.  That will raise my cost basis and mean less tax paid on the remainder of the mutual fund.  Doing it this way would mean that $1666 of income (50% profit on $5000) will be tax free.  Depending on your tax rates, that should save you a few bucks.

Fidelity charges $100 a year for the charitable fund, but you pay for that out of your fund.  The other nice thing is that you can front load your giving.  In other words, if you decide that you're going to give $5k a year, you can put $10k in your charitable account today, claim the entire $10k deduction in 2014, and then actually give the money out half in 2014 and half in 2015.  This is very helpful if you're like me and have a hard time beating the standard deduction.  By doing all my giving every other year, I can crank up my deductions on the years that I fund my charitable account.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2014, 10:00:43 AM by FarmerPete »

Phil_Moore

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #59 on: December 09, 2014, 10:00:05 AM »
Fast forward to today, and, in the UK, the Church of England is no longer responsible for looking after people in this way. We all do it through our taxes (which, yes, pay for other stuff as well). I received my statement of what my taxes were spent on just last week, and about 1/4 of those taxes were spent on welfare, and IIRC 1/5 on the old age pension, both things previously covered (ineffectively, to say the least) by the 10% tithe. My personal tax rate was about 28%, I think, but obviously this excludes purchase tax, car tax, council tax (a local tax here).

I just got that statement as well: 25% on welfare, 19% on healthcare, 13% education, 12% state pension etc.

Personally I don't really worry about giving extra money to the UK state religion. Instead I give to a couple of charities whose focus is overseas, mainly MSF.  Overseas aid only takes up ~1% of my tax bill so it seems fairer to diversify. I don't give until it hurts though. Call me selfish but that's not how I choose to do it.  It'll all be with them when I kick the bucket.

FLBiker

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #60 on: December 09, 2014, 10:06:51 AM »
I do agree that part of the spirit of charity / service is that it is supposed to be a sacrifice,

Out of curiosity, why?  If everyone had food, shelter, clothing, and health care, would we even need to do charity anymore?  It seems to me like the goal is to help people to a level of living that we would be comfortable with ourselves, not to just give money for the purpose of feeling a sting.

Good question.  Personally, my sense of that comes from my experience in a 12-step program, and it refers more to service work than to charity.  In other words, in terms of the work I do to support my home group / help new members / etc., if I'm only doing things that are convenient for me then it isn't really service.  As far as why people tend to have this orientation, I can only speak for myself.  And, to be honest, I haven't really thought a lot about it so consider this a rough draft. :)

In my experience, doing things that I initially don't want to do / make me uncomfortable has been extremely helpful.  For one thing, doing these types of things has routinely showed me that I don't know what is in my best interest / what is going to make me happier.  For example, if I'm in a shitty mood, and some guy calls me from 45 minutes away because he needs a ride to a meeting, my initial reaction is almost always "Damn it.  I just want to stay home.  What a pain in the ass."  However, if I actually do it, I ALWAYS end up feeling better.  For me, this has been a very important lesson to learn because my default approach to a bad mood is to shut down and isolate.  It is certainly not to look for ways to help someone else, but I have learned that this is a much more effective way to remedy my mood.  And even when my mood is good, my default approach to my free time is to defend it.  And, to my surprise, I'm usually happier when I don't do this.

Similarly, I tend to be selfish with money, and practicing generosity has been very liberating.  A lot of what I believed to be my "being good with money" was very fear-based, and learning that I could be generous and still have enough has been great.  I am much better able to NOT keep track of every nickle and dime in my relationships with friends and family, and instead focus on the relationships themselves.

Ultimately, though, it has been my experience that I always get more than I give.  So I would never describe things like charity or service as selfless.  And while I agree that one purpose of charity / service is to help the person receiving it, I also think it serves to help the person who is giving it, and that this help is at least partially in proportion to the inconvenience / sacrifice involved.  At least, that has been my experience.  And, again, these are kind of first thoughts.

TerriM

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #61 on: December 09, 2014, 10:26:06 AM »
On a side note, I also set up a Charitable giving fund through Fidelity.  Best decesion EVER.  If you are currently giving cash to charity, you can save so much tax by giving appreciated stocks.

Wow!  Thanks for that tip!

cautiouslyunconventional

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #62 on: December 09, 2014, 10:57:55 AM »
I guess one thing to figure out would be whether the feeling of sacrifice, specifically, is what you want, or an emotional connection to charity in general. For the latter, you could try volunteering.

I think if you're giving from surplus while aiming for early retirement, what you're giving up is the extra years you'll have to work to meet your goals. That's probably less salient than giving up luxuries right now, since it's harder to feel strongly about the future than the present, so it might not be enough. Another option would be capping your spending somewhere a bit below what's comfortable, and adding the difference to your tithe - but then you'll probably have to adjust it for inflation, what city you're living in, etc.

Also, kudos to you for having such a strong habit of giving that you can have this problem. I've been told that human psychology can make it really hard to part with the money.

So long as we're talking about other philosophies of charity besides OP's - GiveWell might be useful to those of you who are primarily interested in doing maximum good per dollar. (This is how I tend to think - I don't consider sacrifice and personal feelings to matter much, but answered the way I did because that's what OP seemed to be seeking.)

mbl

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #63 on: December 09, 2014, 11:01:35 AM »
I don't currently tithe, but I was raised in the Mormon church where tithing is important, and have often considered going back to that church, in which case I would start tithing again. Now, it's been a loooong time, but my understanding was that God wants you to give 1/10th of your harvest,

Nice.  As an engineer, I have no harvest, so "God" would not expect me to fund him (and why would he, really?  He's God, for God's sake.  If he needed the money, he'd have it rain down in a plague of locusts or some such BS, right?)?

This Mormonism thing sounds pretty sweet, except for that no caffeine thing.  Is there any flexibility on that?

The belief for some is that all that you have is God given and tithing, no matter what amount, is giving back to God what is his.

angelagrace

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #64 on: December 09, 2014, 12:04:29 PM »
We more than tithe. We give 15% or more, plus random things and lots of time to our church. It shouldn't be a struggle, because God promises to give back to you more than you have in the first place. Tithing actually makes you richer. It may go against human logic, but that's what the Word of God says and that's what I've seen in my life. We always have people giving us things randomly that we need and we end up getting incredible deals a lot of the time.

The more you give, the more you receive.
"Malachi 3:10 (KJV)
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it]."

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GardenFun

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #65 on: December 09, 2014, 01:21:25 PM »
Some people like numbers, so 10% is something easy to use for a calculation.  Considering tithing is an old testament reference, and the whole old testament seems to be a big book of rules, it can easily become something that "has to be done" vs. something you enjoy doing.  One of the reason I like the gospels so much was Jesus's approach to the Pharisees - you can make all the rules you want but if you don't understand why you are following them or receive any enjoyment from them, what's the point? - Obviously paraphrasing here.  ;-)

Do what you can, whether it is giving money or time or both, and enjoy doing it.  Be the cheerful giver!

bluecheeze

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #66 on: December 09, 2014, 11:51:53 PM »
We always give a little more then we are comfortable with.  Changes every year depending on income/expenses/etc.  For example if after the budget is set and it looks like giving 5k one year is doable- we may stretch that to 6k just so that we make the active choice of sacrifice- we will actually have to give something else up so that we can help others. 

Taken to extremes- what do you think is better- the man who makes 100million per year giving 15million to charity or the man who makes 20k per year giving 1k?  To the rich man, 15million is laughable because he just makes so much money- it really dosn't change his life at all, but to the poor man being able to give 1k is an EXTREMELY difficult task.

I think the 10% is meant as a starting point.  You think God really cares if you hit 10%? Personally I believe it's about the condition of your heart.  In retirement I belive our % will drop drastically though our volunteer time will improve drastically.

NumberCruncher

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #67 on: December 10, 2014, 08:10:23 AM »
At the end of the year, my mom adds things up, writes a lot of checks to make sure they've met 10%.   She's not bitter about doing it now, because things are good, but she certainly isn't going to "give until it hurts."  What would that mean?  Jeopardizing their retirement? 

Can't seem to find the story with a cursory google search, but there was this couple who donated I think over half their salaries to charities (not religious, if I recall). It sounded like mustachianism, but with increased charitable giving instead of early retirement. Not really "giving until it hurts," but an interesting story this thread brought to mind.

I'm actually an atheist, but always thought of it ("it" being giving/obligation to help others/charity) this way with the mustachian approach: as a percent of spending. This way it's an easy and faster transition to retirement (where you can spend more time volunteering). That said...I need to get my butt in gear and start giving consistently! 

mak1277

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #68 on: December 10, 2014, 08:15:41 AM »
This is a challenge for myself as well...but there seem to be a lot of people who say "oh, I don't need to give money now because I'll just give more of my free time after I retire."

Just food for thought, but how many of the people saying that are currently spending their free time volunteering?  If you're not doing it now, why are you so sure you're going to be willing to do it in retirement?  As I said, I'm guilty of this thinking too, and I'm trying to challenge myself to get out of that mindset.  I just think this line of thinking is nothing more than kicking the can down the road.

arebelspy

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #69 on: December 10, 2014, 08:18:00 AM »
This is a challenge for myself as well...but there seem to be a lot of people who say "oh, I don't need to give money now because I'll just give more of my free time after I retire."

Just food for thought, but how many of the people saying that are currently spending their free time volunteering?  If you're not doing it now, why are you so sure you're going to be willing to do it in retirement?  As I said, I'm guilty of this thinking too, and I'm trying to challenge myself to get out of that mindset.  I just think this line of thinking is nothing more than kicking the can down the road.

I'm guessing because they'll have more unstructured/free time in retirement.

I agree, if you aren't doing it now, you probably never will.

But to think you'll give more time at a point when you have more of it isn't totally invalid.
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Scandium

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #70 on: December 12, 2014, 01:32:01 PM »
I do agree that part of the spirit of charity / service is that it is supposed to be a sacrifice,

Out of curiosity, why?  If everyone had food, shelter, clothing, and health care, would we even need to do charity anymore?  It seems to me like the goal is to help people to a level of living that we would be comfortable with ourselves, not to just give money for the purpose of feeling a sting.
Eliminating poverty can't be the goal. After all if god wanted that he could do it today. Therefore it must be to make people sacrifice. Because... something

Dalmuti

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #71 on: December 12, 2014, 01:53:50 PM »
Since this is a mustachian message board and not a religious one, I'll stay away from the discussion of what God wants from us and talk about how tithing/charity coexist with mustachianism for me.  In one of his comments after his latest post, MMM describes the blog as an "anti-consumption blog at heart".  Certainly donating to charity or tithing isn't likely to qualify as consumption (unless it's being done to show off wealth as a form of conspicuous consumption), so I think it usually falls subject to the usual personal decisions about what's important to each person.  Our giving is currently around 10% net, but it was recently lower and is likely to be higher in the future, so corresponding to the traditional tithe is only a coincidence. 

Like anything else we spend money on, we try to make our spending align with our priorities and regularly evaluate that alignment when things change.  If you feel like giving more would better match you priorities, then do that, and if you feel like giving less would, then give less.  I think the 10% tradition is useful for people that aren't mustachian for the same reason that default amounts going to 401(k)'s, million dollar savings goals, and trying to replace 80% of your income are useful for them.  It is a nice round number that is easy to calculate and easy to put on autopilot so you don't have a moment of weakness and blow it all on booze, hookers, and SUVs.  After years spent tracking expenses and analyzing whether purchases are worth it, I find that I could just as easily give 6%, 41%, or 10.3758% if that better aligned with my priorities and income level.   

Knapptyme

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #72 on: December 12, 2014, 10:11:11 PM »
Since this is a mustachian message board and not a religious one, I'll stay away from the discussion of what God wants from us and talk about how tithing/charity coexist with mustachianism for me.  In one of his comments after his latest post, MMM describes the blog as an "anti-consumption blog at heart".  Certainly donating to charity or tithing isn't likely to qualify as consumption (unless it's being done to show off wealth as a form of conspicuous consumption), so I think it usually falls subject to the usual personal decisions about what's important to each person.

After reading most of the posts, I feel this is most helpful in the discussion. We are ever-mindful of how we put out money to work for us, the luxuries we enjoy with it in this life, and benevolence with it through whatever means. Clearly, the 10% tithe has been reiterated ad nauseam. For a time when I did not regularly attend a church where I would tithe, I still scraped 10% off the top to give to local charities like Habitat for Humanity, the Walter Hoving Home, or whatever seemed appropriate.

Someone else mentioned about forming the habit of giving to charities so that you would stick with it no matter what amount of money you're pulling in. That, too, is a wonderful idea.

Kwill

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #73 on: December 13, 2014, 08:29:50 AM »
This is somewhat tangential to the topic of determining the amount to tithe, but after reading a couple threads about the really complicated methods people take to spend enough on credit cards to get bonuses, it occurs to me that I could simply pay my tithe by credit card for a few months if I were to push my regular spending a little higher for the sake of getting a bonus.

Recently my church and another organization I'm involved with have both been promoting their new online giving systems. I've so far been giving by check, either in the mail or in the basket, partly because of the fees that would reduce the amount my church gets from my donation if I used a card. Do you all worry about that kind of thing?

Here are the costs the charities would have to bear if I paid by credit card. Sadly my church uses the more expensive one. So I'd want to give more to cover the fees if I used a credit card for the sake of my own bonus or points. On the other hand, the total amount counts as a charitable gift for tax purposes, not just the amount the charity gets.
Click&Pledge (3.5% plus $0.35 per transaction) https://www.clickandpledge.com/pricing/
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Victoria

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #74 on: December 13, 2014, 08:30:42 AM »
LDS here. We tithe strictly 10% gross. I believe that it is common for the wealthier members to give a generous fast offering, which goes directly to supporting the needy in that church congegation. There are other optional extras you can donate to, to support the education fund d for example. I also know that there are church-vetted charities that they reccomend donating to. If you're LDS you can find them online and if not, your church might have something similar.

If it's the sacrifice you want back, try donating your time. It's even more rewarding. I am not yet at the point that tithing doesn't pinch a little, bit if we were I'd be open to upping it to 11 or12%.

I look at tithing like taxes. They go to provide infrastructure and services, some of which I use more than others. Luckily I know that the clergy does not get a salary so I'm not funding anybody's lifestyle. Sure, God could rain down money from heaven if we wanted, bit what would that teach us? Tithing is like the sabbath, for our own benefit.

m8547

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #75 on: December 13, 2014, 09:08:43 AM »
On a side note, I've been giving on a credit card to get rewards bonuses and points.  Feels a little squishy on the ethics of that, but I figure if I'm going to give I might as well let the credit card companies pay me money for it.  LOL.

Like Kwill mentioned, you are effectively giving less when you do this. The credit card companies and processing companies take a percentage of the transaction, usually 2-3%, and in exchange they give you a small reward to incentivize this behavior, which is profitable to them. CC rewards generally come from processing fees, not interest the CC companies collect on debt. If no one ever carried credit card debt again, credit cards would probably still be profitable.

Neustache

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #76 on: December 13, 2014, 10:55:27 AM »
I'm not worried about the small fee they incur - if it wasn't worth it to them (and if you set up automatic payments, it surely is worth it to them) they wouldn't accept credit cards.  But then again, I'm not one to make sure I'm hitting 10%.  I'm around 8% of gross, so that might bump me down a bit.  But especially now that I'm giving to other charities rather than a church (long story) I'm not handing out my checking account info to multiple places for online ACH transactions.  When I would use physical checks, I used to have to send a big large check to church every 3-6 months or so, because I'm not super organized to grab a check on the way to church.  The tithe was never spent, but it wasn't being sent to where it needed to be sent!  I have a feeling it's for people like me that churches/charities, would much, much rather have credit/debit capabilities rather than relying on checks, because they get their donations on a more regular basis.   Anyone know if debits charge the church?  I thought I read they do, and tried looking it up but I'm not sure if it's less or the same as a credit card.  I used to use a debit for my automatic contributions. 

JustTrying

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #77 on: December 15, 2014, 07:55:42 PM »
Yay! I'm excited to hear that there are Mustachians out there who care a great deal about financial giving. I tithe 10% of my take-home pay (post taxes, post 401k) to a charitable organization that helps individuals in poverty. I also regularly donate my time to the same charity. I do think that this notion giving till it hurts is a little odd. How would you know when it was hurting? For me, tithing 10% every year significantly moves back my retirement date. So, 10% certainly "hurts" in that way, but does it mean I can't afford groceries for a month? Certainly not.

mm1970

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #78 on: December 15, 2014, 08:19:26 PM »
I'm not religious and I don't tithe.

But I see nothing wrong with it.

I do donate to charities (mostly the elementary school these days, but also the food bank and local organizations that help homeless families, etc.)

I guess that if you looked at churches and their budgets, you'd see that some of the money they get goes to helping others.  How much?  I have no idea.

Rustyfa

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #79 on: December 15, 2014, 08:53:43 PM »
We tithe and give to a couple charities.  Nothing huge monetarily and then obviously donate our time.
We tithe off of our net. When we retire we will tithe off of our retirement accounts.

Jesus is my lord and savior.  He has blessed my family time and again.

MrsPete

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #80 on: December 16, 2014, 06:20:19 AM »
So some of you might disagree with the whole concept of tithing, which is fine. I think some arguments regarding hastening FI so you can start doing more good have some validity, but I'd rather discuss another issue with those of you who do tithe, or donate to charity in some fashion.

My wife and I have been tithing for a while now. While my wife was in grad school and we were paying for that on one salary, tithing was difficult or at least felt a little sacrificial. Now she's done with school. No more tuition, no more book fees, oh and she now makes more than I do. So while our income more than doubled, our expenses have gone down a notable amount. This has made tithing so easy as to be basically non-noticeable. We are pretty clearly giving "out of our surplus," which makes me just a little uneasy. I'm not chomping at the bit to give till we are in poverty, but I did wonder if any of you who have nice 'staches have wrestled with a similar dilemma? How to balancing striving for FI, while knowing one could give much more?

I hope this didn't come off like a "woe is me, I have too much money" whinyface post. I really am interested in what you all think. Thanks.
I understand your discomfort.  On the one hand, if you're giving 10%, you're doing what you're supposed to do; however, the Bible also says "to whom much is given, much will be required".  If you're blessed with much, you're expected to use a portion of that for the good of others. 

Answers?  I don't have that, but I'd say that if you feel uncomfortable, make a change.  Perhaps if you're determined to continue squirreling away money for yourself at your current rate, you could look into giving more of your time?  That, too, is a gift.   
Another great reason not to have an imaginary friend, er, God.

I give a lot of money to charity, but I analyze each charity carefully to ensure that my money is used effectively.

IMHO, it's a better approach than "tithing" a church so that the Pope (or whomever) can buy (yet another) gold plated toilet seat.

But to each his own, if you feel that the hierarchy of the Catholic church, the disciples of Zeus, or Reverend Cleophus (or whatever late night evangelical "send me money now so I can praise Jesus from the back of my new Lear Jet) can spend the money better, by all means send your hard earned money to them.

Praise God (or Gods), or whatever.

Or you can follow me and join the ONE TRUE CHURCH and obey the ONE TRUE RELIGION.  All Hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), the ONE TRUE GOD.  Pray that you, too, are touched by his noodly appendage!

BTW, aside from being the ONE TRUE GOD, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (we are Christians, btw, we realize that the FSM gave his only begotten son yada, yada, yada) does not expect a tithe.

Yeah, that's right, the Church of the FSM is Mustachian.

Pastararianism.  It's just as realistic as any other religion, without the BS.  Plus, the beer and strippers:

http://www.venganza.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/Collander_sm.jpg


All Hail the FSM!  Ramen.
That was just plain rude.  Does it make you feel good to ridicule things you don't understand? 
Nice.  As an engineer, I have no harvest, so "God" would not expect me to fund him (and why would he, really?  He's God, for God's sake.  If he needed the money, he'd have it rain down in a plague of locusts or some such BS, right?)?
Engineers.  Every guy I ever dated after high school either was an engineering student or an engineer -- and y'all can be so literal.  Yes, you have a "harvest".  It comes in the modern form:  a paycheck.
Not everyone who practices the tithe gives to someone to purchase a "gold plated toilet seat."
This was in response to comments about the Pope.  I'm not Catholic, but I am very impressed with this newest Pope.  He seems to be quite middle-class and pro-people.
We tithe.  It is very important to us.  It helps fund a lot of things.  Our money helps pay for our fantastic pastors, maybe a new fence around the playground, to a mission trip that help dig a well in a village.  We could tithe more, but then I would be worried about giving more than I'm really comfortable with which I think defeats the purpose. 
Yes, I am constantly impressed with how our pastoral staff manage our church funds and how far they stretch that money.
Sunday school was a while ago, but I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't say "keep 90% of your income and follow me".
Actually, Jesus talked about money an awful lot -- not because He was trying to get people to tithe, but because money is a huge stumbling block for many people.  If you look at the Bible, you can find examples of both rich men and poor men who were ardent followers of Jesus. 
Indeed.  It's hard to argue for FI from a scriptural point of view.  Many passages ranging from "Store up your wealth in heaven" to the story of the man who planned to build bigger buildings to store his great harvest, but who was going to die the next day.   Yet as Jesus travelled, he stayed with people who had homes and were able to provide him and his disciples dinner.  Some people were called to give up everything and follow him, others were called to stay with their families and serve those around them.

On the other hand, back then, children took care of their parents when they were old.  We have not only moved away from that in our society, but to it being the other way around--parents take care of their kids and grandkids now.  The government takes care of the parents. 

Ultimately, whether you believe in God or not, you have to answer to your conscience.  It sounds like a lot of people here are trying to find a balance in what they give and what they save.  At least by being frugal, you can be honest about the balance--your frugality is a sacrifice, for some easier than others, and with that you have more to give.  I think though, I'd much rather have the phrase "Give until you're happy" than "Give until it hurts."  I think when you see what you're accomplishing in terms of how you're changing people's lives, it's easier to see the right balance that makes everyone happy.
Yes, you can find examples of "store up your treasure in heaven", but you can also read the stories like the one of the master who went away on a journey, leaving each of his three servants with varying amount of talents (an amount of of money).  The one who invested and increased his money was rewarded, while the one who buried his in the ground and did nothing with it was called "wicked and evil". 
And the oft-quoted Proverbs passage about the ideal woman, who works and earns money, who stores up food and warm clothing so her family will be comfortable.  I don't think that passage specifically mentions money, but it clearly says that a good woman is concerned for her family's physical comfort. 
And the new testament warning that those who would not work should not eat; this, of course, was aimed at the people who were expecting Christ's return immediately and were sitting out on the hillside watching for his return -- and expecting others to support them. 

I totally agree with you when you say that the real question is, How to strike a balance between providing for your family, saving for your own future -- and also providing for those around you who are in real need. 

And, yes, it's right to consider that today our elderly are cared for differently. 
In my Bible he says this:    Away with you, you pettifogging Pharisee lawyers! You give to God a tenth of herbs, like mint, dill, and cumin, but the important duties of the Law — judgement, mercy, honesty — you have neglected. Yet these you ought to have performed, without neglecting the others.

It started as a Jewish tradition, seems like he endorses it.
So what I'm reading in that passage is, Money alone isn't enough.  Your attitude and effort matter just as much.    And that's a fairly common theme in the Bible, though I think people outside the church tend to think, "It's all about money". 
I'm guessing because they'll have more unstructured/free time in retirement.

I agree, if you aren't doing it now, you probably never will.

But to think you'll give more time at a point when you have more of it isn't totally invalid.
I don't know about the "if you aren't doing it now, you probably never will" comment. 

Maybe I think this because I'm approaching a turning point in my life: My youngest is about to finish high school.  I've donated huge chunks of my time to various organizations, most dealing with children and teens.  And I still believe in those groups, but as my own kids move into adulthood, I feel that I'm kind of "done" with those volunteer gigs . . . and I'm stepping back from some of those responsibilities.  I'm anticipating a couple years of "less"; that is, less volunteering, less giving for the remaining years I'm still working -- but, at the same time, I can name a couple different organizations to whom I want to volunteer my time after we're retired. 

I suppose I'm saying that my efforts on the part of others is changing as I grow older.

« Last Edit: December 16, 2014, 06:30:23 AM by MrsPete »

MustachianAccountant

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #81 on: December 16, 2014, 08:56:04 AM »
So, I'll try to keep this brief. For a great thoughtful in-depth discussion of tithing for the Christian (not the Jew), check out:
Matthew Narramore on Tithing
Graeme Carle on Tithing
You can read both online for free.

Tithing is mentioned only 3 times in the New Testament. One is this:

In my Bible he says this:    Away with you, you pettifogging Pharisee lawyers! You give to God a tenth of herbs, like mint, dill, and cumin, but the important duties of the Law — judgement, mercy, honesty — you have neglected. Yet these you ought to have performed, without neglecting the others.

It started as a Jewish tradition, seems like he endorses it.

in which you'll notice Jesus specifically calls out "mint, dill, cumin" not "everything you earn/own." Why? Because the Pharisees were so legalistic that they knew they were supposed to tithe crops, but since they didn't have a field per se, they tithed out of their herb garden out back. And that's it.  Also, he's talking to Jewish Pharisees who were still bound to the Old Testament law. So, yeah, they should have been following that.

The second is a similar statement by Jesus in a story about a Pharisee.
The third is in Hebrews 7, where the author basically argues that Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek because the new priesthood is better than the old testament priesthood, and the levitical priesthood (to whom the tithe was given) is no longer the standard.

Trying to commingle the Old Testament "tithing" laws with what the New Testament gives us as a better way (the old law has passed away) will only leave you confused.

That being said, there is plenty in the New Testament on giving, how, to whom, but not how much.

We give, but I couldn't tell you what percentage we give because that's not the point. We give thoughtfully, specifically, and most importantly, cheerfully. I see a lot of people in this thread giving in order to alleviate guilt, or so that they don't feel guilty. Which, wow. I don't know what to say to that. That's not why you should give...
« Last Edit: December 16, 2014, 09:05:45 AM by MustachianAccountant »

Franklin

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #82 on: December 16, 2014, 09:47:07 AM »
Tithing is mentioned only 3 times in the New Testament. One is this:

In my Bible he says this:    Away with you, you pettifogging Pharisee lawyers! You give to God a tenth of herbs, like mint, dill, and cumin, but the important duties of the Law — judgement, mercy, honesty — you have neglected. Yet these you ought to have performed, without neglecting the others.

It started as a Jewish tradition, seems like he endorses it.

in which you'll notice Jesus specifically calls out "mint, dill, cumin" not "everything you earn/own." Why? Because the Pharisees were so legalistic that they knew they were supposed to tithe crops, but since they didn't have a field per se, they tithed out of their herb garden out back. And that's it.  Also, he's talking to Jewish Pharisees who were still bound to the Old Testament law. So, yeah, they should have been following that.

My interpretation of the quote is that he was simply pointing out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  Yet indirectly he was showing his support of tithing.

MustachianAccountant

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #83 on: December 16, 2014, 10:54:48 AM »
Tithing is mentioned only 3 times in the New Testament. One is this:

In my Bible he says this:    Away with you, you pettifogging Pharisee lawyers! You give to God a tenth of herbs, like mint, dill, and cumin, but the important duties of the Law — judgement, mercy, honesty — you have neglected. Yet these you ought to have performed, without neglecting the others.

It started as a Jewish tradition, seems like he endorses it.

in which you'll notice Jesus specifically calls out "mint, dill, cumin" not "everything you earn/own." Why? Because the Pharisees were so legalistic that they knew they were supposed to tithe crops, but since they didn't have a field per se, they tithed out of their herb garden out back. And that's it.  Also, he's talking to Jewish Pharisees who were still bound to the Old Testament law. So, yeah, they should have been following that.

My interpretation of the quote is that he was simply pointing out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  Yet indirectly he was showing his support of tithing.
Oh, definitely he was calling out their hypocrisy. He was also showing his support of the Jews following the Jewish law.
I'm not a Jew though, nor do I follow Old Testament law.

Kwill

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #84 on: December 16, 2014, 11:23:58 AM »
We give, but I couldn't tell you what percentage we give because that's not the point. We give thoughtfully, specifically, and most importantly, cheerfully. I see a lot of people in this thread giving in order to alleviate guilt, or so that they don't feel guilty. Which, wow. I don't know what to say to that. That's not why you should give...

Thoughtfully, specifically & cheerfully is good. But I'm not hearing a lot of guilt in this discussion, just a lot of interesting, well-meaning people that are looking to do the right thing and do it well. It's good to see that.

When I started reading this blog and thinking more about my finances, I wondered if I should scale down my giving, but when I think about everything that the money goes to at my local church, I actually want to support it. On top of the typical church stuff (Mass, confession, heat & electricity & repairs for the building), there's a weekly food pantry, tutoring for at-risk high school students, ESL, clothing donations, study groups, counseling, outreach to college students and young professionals, a twelve-step group, support for young couples and families, concerts, lectures, an elementary school, organized trips, spiritual support, and a weekly coffee hour for fellowship.  They also send something to the regional organization (archdiocese), and some of that goes to help the poor, too. I decided to keep giving at my current rate for now and revisit the question when my job changes again next summer.

MrsPete

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #85 on: December 19, 2014, 07:45:10 PM »
Tithing is mentioned only 3 times in the New Testament.
Keep in mind that while tithing may be mentioned only three times, the concept of helping the poor (or similar concepts) is mentioned many more times. 

The concept of "church" as we know it today didn't exist in Jesus' time, so we have to take the original idea and determine how to adapt it to modern day ways . . . while keeping the integrity of the idea. 

MustachianAccountant

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #86 on: December 22, 2014, 09:02:07 AM »
Tithing is mentioned only 3 times in the New Testament.
Keep in mind that while tithing may be mentioned only three times, the concept of helping the poor (or similar concepts) is mentioned many more times. 

The concept of "church" as we know it today didn't exist in Jesus' time, so we have to take the original idea and determine how to adapt it to modern day ways . . . while keeping the integrity of the idea.

Right, that's why I said the NT says plenty about giving.
I guess my point is, pegging our giving to some percentage based on an OT law that really doesn't apply anymore is the wrong way to go about it. And yet, we still use the word "tithe" and set 10% as the standard, as if that's the "biblical" way to do it. But it's not...

NICE!

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #87 on: December 22, 2014, 12:28:18 PM »
Right, that's why I said the NT says plenty about giving.
I guess my point is, pegging our giving to some percentage based on an OT law that really doesn't apply anymore is the wrong way to go about it. And yet, we still use the word "tithe" and set 10% as the standard, as if that's the "biblical" way to do it. But it's not...

You're right, MA. You're also right that there is some guilt in this thread - I do give out of some long-ingrained classic "Catholic guilt." You can also add "liberal white guilt" to that, too (although I don't know that I'd call myself a liberal). It isn't healthy and I know it.

What does happily and cheerfully look like? Does that mean you don't have it on auto giving? Something in me (maybe it is my Catholic upbringing or being around the military my whole life) that needs some type of structure or rule system.

MustachianAccountant

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #88 on: December 23, 2014, 07:13:54 AM »
Right, that's why I said the NT says plenty about giving.
I guess my point is, pegging our giving to some percentage based on an OT law that really doesn't apply anymore is the wrong way to go about it. And yet, we still use the word "tithe" and set 10% as the standard, as if that's the "biblical" way to do it. But it's not...

You're right, MA. You're also right that there is some guilt in this thread - I do give out of some long-ingrained classic "Catholic guilt." You can also add "liberal white guilt" to that, too (although I don't know that I'd call myself a liberal). It isn't healthy and I know it.

What does happily and cheerfully look like? Does that mean you don't have it on auto giving? Something in me (maybe it is my Catholic upbringing or being around the military my whole life) that needs some type of structure or rule system.

For us, it's about being intentional - we don't just put money in the plate on Sunday, without a thought about where it's going.
It's one of the things you see in 2 Cor 8-9 - the offerings being taken were for something very specific. Also in Acts, when offerings were being taken, they were for a specific thing.
A lot of our giving goes to Compassion International, where we sponsor kids' education. We get the kids' picture, and write letters back and forth with them. These amounts are on auto-withdrawal every month, but that doesn't make the giving any less intentional.
Even when we put money in the plate at church, we designate it to something or someone specific instead of leaving it just as a generic offering.
When you think about where the money is going, you can happily give to those people/causes because they're things you believe in and want to help out with.

Magpie

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #89 on: December 23, 2014, 08:09:34 AM »
This conversation has had some very interesting comments!  John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, had a different take on giving.  One of his most famous sermons, entitled "The Use of Money" has three basic tenets:

I. We ought to gain all we can gain but this it is certain we ought not to do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of life, nor at the expense of our health.

II. Do not throw the precious talent into the sea.

III. Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then "give all you can."

John Wesley also lived what he preached.  He lived on 28 pounds a year from 1731 until his death in 1791, even as his income grew from 30 pounds to 1400 pounds annually.  Wesley's principles of the use of money are challenging, especially in the culture of affluence in which we live today.  I don't think there's a "right" amount for people to give.  For our family, we are intentionally increasing our giving to both our church and charities we believe in.  To us, giving is an act of discipleship. 

MustachianAccountant

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Re: Tithing with a 'Stache
« Reply #90 on: December 23, 2014, 08:58:43 AM »
This conversation has had some very interesting comments!  John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, had a different take on giving.  One of his most famous sermons, entitled "The Use of Money" has three basic tenets:

I. We ought to gain all we can gain but this it is certain we ought not to do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of life, nor at the expense of our health.

II. Do not throw the precious talent into the sea.

III. Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then "give all you can."

John Wesley also lived what he preached.  He lived on 28 pounds a year from 1731 until his death in 1791, even as his income grew from 30 pounds to 1400 pounds annually.  Wesley's principles of the use of money are challenging, especially in the culture of affluence in which we live today.  I don't think there's a "right" amount for people to give.  For our family, we are intentionally increasing our giving to both our church and charities we believe in.  To us, giving is an act of discipleship.

Yes! I love John Wesley's story, it's very challenging to me.
"In 1744 Wesley wrote, “When I die if I leave behind me ten pounds...you and all mankind can bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers. Most of the 30,000 pounds he had earned in his lifetime he had given away."

30,000 pounds, inflation adjusted and converted to dollars, is an amount in the multiple millions of dollars. Yet he died with literally pocket change to his name.

Also, this sounds, dare I say it, mustachian: "Wesley limited his expenditures by not purchasing the kinds of things thought essential for a man in his station of life."

http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/what-wesley-practiced-and-preached-about-money