Author Topic: The Non-negotiable Tithe  (Read 60158 times)

Faraday

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #100 on: November 16, 2015, 09:08:12 PM »
Someone up thread mentioned something about magic helping out and that's how I see these case studies.  People who post and say that tithing is non-negotiable are essentially saying, "I know that this is a huge gap but I believe God will make up for that gap in my plan so please don't focus on that.  Yes, it's irrational/illogical and you can't see how it will work if I don't stop that.  But I believe God will make it work.  So... what else can I fix?"  I find it less frustrating thinking of it worded this way.

Now, the people with the multiple items which are off-limits, who consider fun money, cable, tithing, day care, cleaners, organic food, gas money, their "dream car" payment and/or their trip to XYZ non-negotiable...

sonjak, these are fairly intelligent ways of wording each end of the spectrum of possible "off limits" case studies. Much appreciate your articulate sensitivity to the question.

But there are fundamentals to justajane's question here that we still aren't homing in on:

1) Why would anyone come to these forums and, having read ANYTHING and understanding it, post a case study with ANYTHING said to be "off limits"?!? In fact, why wouldn't they simply leave that item out?

You are right, it's not a problem for me because I have no issue respecting others beliefs. I find it odd that you are being accusatory towards me for pointing out the obvious of many here as opposed to realizing maybe you should be more understanding and accepting of others.

As Spike Lee says, "Pleeze baby pleeze": you're getting into a side hustle here that's irrelevant: We don't care about anyone's beliefs. That fact underlies our inability to understand why tithing gets put forward as a non-negotiable.

There's no overarching rule in these forums that you have to be understanding and accepting of anyone. It's all about the FIRE and badassity, and the participants here are expected to call-it-like-we-see it.

We say here what people won't say in real life. That's an underpinning to the case study and the importance of the facepunch: to see where we are fooling ourselves and fix it.

2) Are we being proseletyzed to? Are these "tithes are non-negotiable" meant to be some kind of advertisement or "I'm here, I'm <fill in the blank>, get used to it"?

justajane opened this thread with a simple, non-accusatory question, not name calling or anything. I'm interested in that question and I don't care about this notion of having to understand anyone. Giving my perspective to someone isn't bound by that requirement.

darkadams00

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #101 on: November 16, 2015, 09:14:07 PM »
So if someone has "tithe non-negotiable" in a case study, it's pointless to have the case study?

What about the other 90% of their budge that IS open to scrutiny? Can they not get advice on their federal witholdings or food budget because they tithe? Come on..

I honestly don't understand what's so hard about seeing someone say They tithe, and simply moving on.

It's a basic part of respecting peoples' beliefs. Adulting 101... Not that hard

I take issue with your snark here about "Adulting 101", as if somehow it is infantile of me or others to struggle with knowing how to help someone who has sacred cows. Clearly this is not an issue for you, but just because you haven't noticed a problem doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Of course they can still post a case study, but it's not going to go very far. Plus, more often than not, the tithe usually ends up being far, far more than 10% of their budget, since they calculate it based on gross income.

I do often have a sense that certain case studies expect some sort of magic bullet that is going to enable them to keep everything as it already is, only tweaking a few things here and there, and that somehow the numbers will magically be in their favor. Clearly not only tithers struggle with this, but this is going back to my earlier point that almost the only way to gain traction in your budget if you tithe and make closer to the average American income is to have an austerity budget. Not surprisingly, people don't take too kindly to that.

1) The tithe can't be far, far more than 10% of the budget because the budget starts with income. Budgets should be begin with income, not income after various selected deductions. And if that's not the number you use, I posit that your percentages are wrong because you use the wrong denominator, not because someone is quoting an erroneously inflated percentage.

2) I have read very few case studies where there weren't sacred cows--mostly implicit. Don't suggest I get rid of my expensive pet/hobby/vehicle/house, stop my expensive shopping/traveling/dining, or give up my coffee shop/gym/cable. Almost everyone posts multiple items in their budget they won't give up. Tithing seems to be more of a lightning rod for some because of the religious aspect.

3) To suggest that I don't have any good ideas on how to handle 80-90% of a person's income just because I can't "touch" a smaller fraction is directly opposite of MMM's "become a millionaire $10 at a time." If $10 can really make a difference, then how about $100 or $500 or $1000? I taught my sons that buying a $5 burger wasn't a budget buster, but the lack of food planning/laziness/love of convenience that led to a habit of $5 burgers would keep them broke and overweight in their teens. I don't know of a single person in any of my social circles that I couldn't help with just one or two suggestions. It wouldn't get them to 50% savings rates, but that's not everyone's goal--even here. Take what the case study offers, give a couple pointers, and move on.

Full disclosure--I give more than a tithe, but only the tithe goes to my church. My church supports the local food bank, homeless shelter, shelter for battered women, Habitat for Humanity, and we visit several nursing homes/senior centers monthly, often with gifts/care packages. I gave when I was a broke college student, later when I was a struggling newlywed, and later when I had lost my job and had mouths to feed. Why? I passed people everyday who were worse off, who had such a bad childhood they didn't know where to start to work their way out of their hole, who had extreme misfortune in their lives. Even when I had little money, I always felt that I had won the life lottery because I grew up in a great home with good parents and loving grandparents. They taught me to love life, work hard, earn an honest living, and be the guy a wife can love and trust. Income has nothing to do with those things. So giving has been easy for me whether I was making south of $30k or north of $150k. I can remember not saving. I can't remember not giving. If I had it all to do over again, I would spend more wisely and save more. I wouldn't take back a dime of my giving.

darkadams00

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #102 on: November 16, 2015, 09:48:06 PM »
Someone up thread mentioned something about magic helping out and that's how I see these case studies.  People who post and say that tithing is non-negotiable are essentially saying, "I know that this is a huge gap but I believe God will make up for that gap in my plan so please don't focus on that.  Yes, it's irrational/illogical and you can't see how it will work if I don't stop that.  But I believe God will make it work.  So... what else can I fix?"  I find it less frustrating thinking of it worded this way.

Now, the people with the multiple items which are off-limits, who consider fun money, cable, tithing, day care, cleaners, organic food, gas money, their "dream car" payment and/or their trip to XYZ non-negotiable...

sonjak, these are fairly intelligent ways of wording each end of the spectrum of possible "off limits" case studies. Much appreciate your articulate sensitivity to the question.

But there are fundamentals to justajane's question here that we still aren't homing in on:

1) Why would anyone come to these forums and, having read ANYTHING and understanding it, post a case study with ANYTHING said to be "off limits"?!? In fact, why wouldn't they simply leave that item out?

You are right, it's not a problem for me because I have no issue respecting others beliefs. I find it odd that you are being accusatory towards me for pointing out the obvious of many here as opposed to realizing maybe you should be more understanding and accepting of others.

As Spike Lee says, "Pleeze baby pleeze": you're getting into a side hustle here that's irrelevant: We don't care about anyone's beliefs. That fact underlies our inability to understand why tithing gets put forward as a non-negotiable.

There's no overarching rule in these forums that you have to be understanding and accepting of anyone. It's all about the FIRE and badassity, and the participants here are expected to call-it-like-we-see it.

We say here what people won't say in real life. That's an underpinning to the case study and the importance of the facepunch: to see where we are fooling ourselves and fix it.

2) Are we being proseletyzed to? Are these "tithes are non-negotiable" meant to be some kind of advertisement or "I'm here, I'm <fill in the blank>, get used to it"?

justajane opened this thread with a simple, non-accusatory question, not name calling or anything. I'm interested in that question and I don't care about this notion of having to understand anyone. Giving my perspective to someone isn't bound by that requirement.

The issue with the perspective that you posted is simple---not one person on this board believes it. If they did, the answer to every case study, every post would be simple. Sell your cars and your house. Move into the lowest rent housing area in the area closest to your job and use public transportation or some other non-vehicular means to commute. Two kids? One bedroom apartment with a sofa bed is enough. Don't waste money on travel, vacations, or gifts. Buy all your clothes and household goods second and third-hand. Flip phone? Most of the world's population doesn't own even that, so drop it. TV, laptop, iPad? Sell 'em and put the money in Vanguard.

But personal finance consists of a continuum of choices. And what would optimize one's finances doesn't always optimize one's life (or everyone would make the choices mentioned above). The fact that some would label my example as hyperbole just points to the fact that Americans are not willing to live like the majority of the rest of the world (and the poorer folks in your own city). So EVERY SINGLE ITEM on some of the most proud budget writers' spreadsheets on this forum represents a data point much closer to our wasteful brothers than to the unwashed masses. Chest-thumping over an extra 5% savings rate when you own one car per driver in your house or own a house near or above the median price in your town just shows that one has ... Gasp...a sacred cow.

Metta

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #103 on: November 16, 2015, 10:16:10 PM »
And it just struck me - in a society that thinks hiring is by merit, the idea of someone getting a job because there was a connection with their church is actually very off-putting.  Basically it is the same as nepotism or cronyism.

Or a way of practicing religious discrimination on the down-low.

Oh PLEASE.  If you're upset that any networking affects job prospects that's one thing.  But singling out a religious connection creating a networking possibility as unfair is just ridiculous. 

Do you have a Linked-In account?  That's an unfair advantage! 
Do you volunteer at the Humane Society?  That's an unfair advantage!
Do you have references on your resume?  That's an unfair advantage!

Personal recommendations are a fact of life in the hiring world.  Railing against religion is insanely misplaced on this topic.

I don't know if it is the same as a Linked-In account. Religion seems a more delicate matter to me than which social network I'm a part of. I remember once I was urged to convert to a person's religion (and attend their church) so that I would be better able to get a job I was interested in. I decided I wasn't interested in working for someone whose criteria required a specific religious affiliation and I'm glad I declined that "opportunity". That doesn't mean that all networking at churches is similar to what I encountered, but it did leave me looking askance at churches that encouraged/required their members to hire only people who shared their faith.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #104 on: November 17, 2015, 03:14:26 AM »
The situation I have trouble with is when the poster is in debt, behind on payments, and is still tithing.

To me then if I'm in debt and especially if I'm behind on payments, then any money I have after my basic needs are taken care of belongs to whomever I borrowed it from, not me and not the church. Giving money away while I'm not paying my debts feels like stealing from the bank and then justifying it by giving the money away. I have difficulty getting on board with any faith that is (effectively) asking me to borrow money I don't have to give it to them.

Back in the day, churches were essential to the needy because there was very little insurance, little welfare, and limited state support; so 10% seemed about right. Nowadays the state does more, people already pay taxes, so to me, 10% seems higher than necessary, particularly when you see giant churches and pastors driving BMWs. It makes more sense when the church is providing many services in the community (shelters, food banks etc).

If the person posting the case study is debt free and choosing to donate or tithe, and knows how much this will delay financial independence, then I find it much easier to support that choice.

shelivesthedream

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #105 on: November 17, 2015, 04:52:46 AM »
In general, as a totally informal thing, I tend to give people who post a case study a free pass on one thing. If they want to have a three hour commute, fine, but they cannot also have the aforementioned organic phoenix and unicorn diet go unquestioned. Or if they really love buying  a mega-frappa-ultra-super-duper-ccino every day, OK, but they have got to get rid of their surplus cars. If tithers want to make their tithe their free pass, then everything else is up for debate. However, they do need to accept that people on this forum will question/facepunch EVERYTHING and that they should be GRATEFUL for it. Nowhere else will you get the kind of ruthless advice that you get here, but it is only advice and if they don't want to change then they don't have to.

What I always want to know with tithers is what they think the tithe is for. There are a few different thought processes that lead to a compulsory percentage-based tithe and it's always helpful to know what their reasoning is so that they can reflect on whether the 10% is the only way of fulfilling that purpose.

For example, if their church actually requires a 10% tithe to be a member... well, to be honest I have little sympathy with that, but in that case they'll have to cut everything else to the bone or never retire early.

Or, if they are following the historical sense of tithing and giving a portion of your harvest to the temple, they should read up on it and consider the portion of what they are giving. Medieval serfs gave labour as well as harvest, and they got protection and farming rights in return. They should also go and re-read the ENTIRE Bible and consider where this 10% business came from (e.g. Leviticus 27.30-34 and Matthew 23.23) and what God wants the money for - the earth and everything in it belong to the Lord anyway.

Or, maybe it's because Christians have a duty to help the poor. The poor are a huge part of the gospels. Jesus tells his disciples to sell all they have and give it to the poor. In that case they need to consider whether their labour would also help the poor, and whether "the church" and "the poor" are the same thing. A few of the posters need to realise that they ARE the poor! If they are in huge debt with a large family and only one income, THEY are the people that OTHER people need to be helping! They should not be digging themselves in further! I have never quite understood how for many Christians money-borrowers are totally fine while moneylenders are definitely evil. Also, as others have mentioned, "the poor" are helped by the state these days, so they should reconsider whether their tithing is still applicable.

Etc etc.

Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

(Context: my husband is a very religious Anglican (Church of England). I am an atheist. He does not give money to the church but nor is he asked to, except on Sundays when the collection plate is passed round and people put in random small amounts of cash. He does give a lot of his time. I personally give a small amount of money to a charity every month. We have discussed giving a larger household amount to charity (not the church) but have agreed that at the moment we are not in a financial position to do so.)

justajane

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #106 on: November 17, 2015, 05:18:04 AM »
Tithing seems to be more of a lightning rod for some because of the religious aspect.

This is absolutely not the case for me and, based on many of the responses, neither is it the case for others. I'm not sure how many more ways I can say that I respect the tithe and am religious myself.

Quote
2) I have read very few case studies where there weren't sacred cows--mostly implicit. Don't suggest I get rid of my expensive pet/hobby/vehicle/house, stop my expensive shopping/traveling/dining, or give up my coffee shop/gym/cable. Almost everyone posts multiple items in their budget they won't give up.

This is true, but you can dialogue with people about the "organic phoenix and unicorn diet" and the "mega-frappa-ultra-super-duper-ccino" (that was awesome shelivesthedream). You can try to shave percentages and money off their "non-negotiable" budget in a way that you can't with the tithe. You can suggest that they buy their organic apples at the CSA instead of Whole Paycheck. You can suggest that they try to make a coffee beverage at home or maybe only get one once or twice a week instead of daily. But the tithe.....there's no wiggle room. It's non-negotiable in a way that other things aren't. That's my frustration in the context of a case study - not the fact that it is religiously based. On the contrary, I have great respect for anyone who would give that much. It's admirable. But it's non-negotiable in a way that almost nothing else is in a person's budget. Even with pets, you can suggest cheaper medical care, cheaper food, etc.

I appreciate and agree with shelivesthedream's perspective:

Or, maybe it's because Christians have a duty to help the poor. The poor are a huge part of the gospels. Jesus tells his disciples to sell all they have and give it to the poor. In that case they need to consider whether their labour would also help the poor, and whether "the church" and "the poor" are the same thing. A few of the posters need to realise that they ARE the poor! If they are in huge debt with a large family and only one income, THEY are the people that OTHER people need to be helping! They should not be digging themselves in further! I have never quite understood how for many Christians money-borrowers are totally fine while moneylenders are definitely evil. Also, as others have mentioned, "the poor" are helped by the state these days, so they should reconsider whether their tithing is still applicable.

Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

This is why I explicitly asked for examples in which the tithe does work, because a large part of me wants it to work for families. Unfortunately, I have mostly seen case studies in which it doesn't work. The couple is drowning in debt and have no savings. I tend to want to throw myself into those case studies because I want to help and I want to see them live a more secure financial and less stressed life. But the tithe makes getting ahead with a large family and a lower income extremely difficult. FIRE (presumably why most of us are here) is a distant dream.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 05:22:16 AM by justajane »

use2betrix

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #107 on: November 17, 2015, 05:58:51 AM »
Maybe we should add a note to the case study sticky for every person that has a non negotiable tithe to simply reduce their income by the tithing amount and not mention it in the case study? Maybe that would help since it's so difficult to figure out otherwise.

You know, because if someone makes 100k and tithes 10k, that's so much different than a person that makes 90k.


Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #108 on: November 17, 2015, 06:14:30 AM »
Oh...do you really want a case study where it doesn't affect much? 

Here's ours:

Giving:  $600
Sitar lessons:  $300 (face punch, but my hubby's hobby, it's staying.  He's talented and might be able to teach others as a side gig in retirement)
Food:  $500 (family of four but this is higher than it needs to be)
Household goods:  $80 (rarely use this much)
Going out to eat: $100 (rarely use this much)
Electricity:  $100
Gas: $50
Water: $85
Phone:  $35
Internet: $ZERO - free google fiber
House PITI: $901
Rental PITI: $868
Maintenance for houses: $100
Clothing: $80 (rarely use this each month, but it's there if we need it)
Car Gas:  $70
Car Insurance: $80
School for me: $600 for the next two years
0% Credit Card for house repairs:  $72 - will be paid off in April 2016


Grand total spending (note, includes rental mortgage): $4621

Total after-tax and insurance take home:  $6112

Other 'income' - husband's work gives us about $16K a year in a defined contribution pension account (Vanguard).

This is on one income plus rental income.  I'll be rejoining the workforce in two years when my little guy enters school.  This budget assumes that I might spend $14K on school in the next two years to get my masters in order to teach full time.  I'm trying to find ways to lower this cost but I don't know how or if I can. 

Even with our crazy high expenditures, we are saving around $1500 a month plus getting 16K a year from his employer.  We are giving and saving $36K a year.  When I start working, we should be saving about $66K a year.   Once we reach about $500K (8-10 years from now) I consider us semi-FI and we'll see if one of us wants to quit, or keep working and increase the stash.  Once we are at $750K then we are FI - the sitar lessons won't last forever as his guru is old and at some point we'll payoff mortgages.  I haven't included two bonuses and the two months were we get two paychecks because those usually go for random things like vacations (3K a year) life insurance ($500 a year) property taxes ($600/yr).


There's a TON of other areas where we can cut to bump our savings up - if the giving is non-negotiable, I just don't see why you can't focus on the other multitude of areas:  grill us on our rental (we should sell it), or the sitar, or the crazy high food/restaurant budget.  Ask us what our interest rates are on the houses to make sure we can't optimize there and lower our payments.  Ask if we really spend $100 a month on house maintenance (we don't) and if I really need to go to school to be a teacher (I get my masters and will get paid 4K more a year with it so I think it's worth it, but I could be wrong there).

So many ways to go with this budget to optimize it.  And no, I'm not asking for advice. 

Now had I shown you our budget 7 years ago with an income of 43K and we were giving a solid 10% of gross?  Yes, that would have been more of an issue.  But the answer there was to drastically increase our income, which we did over 7 years. 

I'm fine with not retiring as soon as we could.  I don't see why you care so much about it. It's sweet that you do, I guess, but please don't lose any time or sleep over our choices. 

I think the first time I did post a case study I just left out the giving amount because I knew people would have a problem with it.  People seemed pretty okay with our budget (sans the rental) and I had decreased our income by our tithe amount so no one would 'see' the extra money.  No one chimed in that we should increase our income. 















Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #109 on: November 17, 2015, 06:22:26 AM »
Maybe we should add a note to the case study sticky for every person that has a non negotiable tithe to simply reduce their income by the tithing amount and not mention it in the case study? Maybe that would help since it's so difficult to figure out otherwise.

You know, because if someone makes 100k and tithes 10k, that's so much different than a person that makes 90k.

Ha! I think I did that in my first case study and no one told me to go make more money.  I just replied when you were posting, it looks, and mentioned that towards the end. 

I really think this matters more for people making less than 70K a year or so.  Once you go over that, and if you live in a LCOL place, it's just not as big of a deal, in my view.

justajane

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #110 on: November 17, 2015, 06:40:31 AM »
I really think this matters more for people making less than 70K a year or so.  Once you go over that, and if you live in a LCOL place, it's just not as big of a deal, in my view.

Thanks for the case study! I'm not sure why your original caveat ("Oh...do you really want a case study where it doesn't affect much?") was phrased in that way, since I'm a pretty straightforward person. If I asked for examples of case studies, it's because I really wanted to see them!

I guess I should just accept that people who tithe are going to feel attacked or marginalized here, even though it wasn't really my intention.

But your point here is precisely mine, that it matters more when you are making 70K or less. That was the exact same income number I had in my head, so I think we are on the same page, even though evidently it doesn't appear that way to you.

One reason your above budget with tithe works is because you have very low expenses in other areas. No internet, low phones, low food, low utilities, etc.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 06:43:49 AM by justajane »

Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #111 on: November 17, 2015, 06:43:48 AM »
Oh no!  I just missed that you were looking for one where it kind of works.  LOL.  Didn't mean that in a snide way, just in a "oh, she asked for this and I missed it way!"

My case study is full of face-punch worthy items.  I totally see why someone would react negatively to the tithe when we were making much less, because it really was risky from a financial standpoint.  But, in most cases, the answer is "how can you increase income?" if they are dead-set against dropping the giving. 

justajane

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #112 on: November 17, 2015, 06:47:11 AM »
Oh no!  I just missed that you were looking for one where it kind of works.  LOL.  Didn't mean that in a snide way, just in a "oh, she asked for this and I missed it way!"

My case study is full of face-punch worthy items.  I totally see why someone would react negatively to the tithe when we were making much less, because it really was risky from a financial standpoint.  But, in most cases, the answer is "how can you increase income?" if they are dead-set against dropping the giving.

No problem, Neustache. :). After you posted, I did comment on your low expenses overall, though. Well done! The low internet, cell phone, food, eating out, utilities, etc. -- all of which are conscious choices on your part -- enable you to give 10%. And that is a choice for which I only have respect.

Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #113 on: November 17, 2015, 07:12:59 AM »
The could be lower, but we are very, very comfortable with this level of spending.  The tithe plus sitar is a nice chunk of change, but since I'll be re-entering the workforce in a few years it will work out okay - we plan to retire by 45, which is ten years sooner than I had hoped for before finding MMM as I had a goal of getting my husband to retire at 55. 

Another perspective on giving money versus time....most people are already doing both.  My husband plays for the church orchestra so there's already 2 hours on Wednesday nights and 2 hours on Sunday mornings that he's giving of his time.  Back in my highest volunteering days, I would work at least 2 hours a week for the children's ministry plus time during the week talking to people or thinking about what's working/not working. 

So when people say "just give your time" realize that they are already probably giving their time, so then they hear "Give MORE time" and that doesn't seem doable. 

ETA - when I think about the practice my husband does outside of rehearsal, his number is closer to 6 hours a week.  Just wanted to add that as it's more accurate and is practically a full day of 'work'.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 07:23:21 AM by Neustache »

shelivesthedream

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #114 on: November 17, 2015, 07:31:37 AM »
...case study...

Two reasons why this case study works.

1. Your husband makes a TON of money. Tithing or not, you'd never struggle to cover the basics. I know it's a percentage so it does change with income, but there is actually a number below which basic needs spending cannot go. You pointed this out yourself when you said "Now had I shown you our budget 7 years ago with an income of 43K and we were giving a solid 10% of gross?  Yes, that would have been more of an issue." The people who are posting the problematic tithing case studies are at that stage, when they have too low an income to be able to tithe without something else having to give.

2. You have made your choices and made peace with them. You have put tithing as a considered priority and worked out what else to cut to make that happen. Respect! What you have not done is said, "Oh my, I'm haemorrhaging money left right and centre because I am living way above my means on my inadequate income, but I can't even consider cutting back on tithing (even *consider*, mind you, even if they then decide not to do it) but I still want to retire at 35 with $10 million in the bank." You have made other adjustments (reducing expenses and, as you so rightly pointed out, increasing income) and set your date a little later at 45, and are not expecting the FIRE Fairies to sprinkle their pixie dust and change reality so don't know have to do any extra work.

I have yet to read a response to "Couldn't you cut the tithe?" which was measured, considered, and willing to accept that they would have to reduce the priority of other spending to make that happen. (Maybe it's out there but I've just not come across it!)

Quote
the "organic phoenix and unicorn diet" and the "mega-frappa-ultra-super-duper-ccino" (that was awesome shelivesthedream).

Thanks. :P As discussed on this thread, I'm trying to hold back less...

use2betrix

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #115 on: November 17, 2015, 07:48:55 AM »
...case study...

Two reasons why this case study works.

1. Your husband makes a TON of money. Tithing or not, you'd never struggle to cover the basics.

Ok, so this makes a good point.

For people that make a "TON" of money as you mention, if they want to tithe, have some lessons, or spend more on groceries, is it as important to beat them up over these things?

For example, if someone makes 150k, do they need to get beaten up because they tithe, like a person who makes 50k would? Or have cable or internet or that matter?

I am reluctant to, and haven't posted a case study for this reason.

On a good month I can save around $7000 if nothing major comes up (major things like my wedding, surgery for my dog, or a mild surgery for cancer for myself). Not too bad for a 27 year old. Some months this year have been $10,000/mo in savings, on a single income two person household.

I haven't posted a case study because I do have some things that are pretty much non-negotiable, such as my $800/mo grocery bill as I'm huge into fitness and eat a ton. In turn, I haven't paid for cable or internet in years, and also live in a 300-400 sq ft 5th wheel.

I know if I posted a case study, I'd get torn apart by people who think I should make major lifestyle changes so I can save $8000/mo instead of $7000/mo, and frankly, at my income level and amount I work I don't find it worthwhile.

That being said, I HAVE made some major changes thanks to this forum, asking questions, and reading other people's case studies. I still learn a lot here, even though I'm not spending 25k/yr like MMM is.

I don't think everyone needs to have the same spending habits nor the same goals, but if everyone here can take something away from this forum and improve their financial badassity, that's still a win to be celebrated.

Pigeon

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #116 on: November 17, 2015, 07:51:59 AM »
I think that if there are items people are genuinely unwilling to examine, they should leave them out of their case studies altogether.  I don't see tithing as a privileged class of spending.  If it's off the table, whatever.  Personally, I think leaving major chunks of spending off the table is not a good idea no matter what it is.

Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #117 on: November 17, 2015, 07:56:59 AM »
I think part of this is that people who do give probably need to chime in on threads where the person is over their heads and won't give up the tithe.  I feel like I get the mindset, understand the subtle prosperity gospel that often goes along with it if it's a charismatic/Baptist church (that particular manipulation drives me CRAZY) and understand why they hold onto it. 

I so wish I had posted our budget here 7 years ago (although I don't think this place existed then?) and someone would have thumped me on the head about our income/tithing.  I wouldn't have stopped giving, mind you, but it might have been the reality check we needed to get moving on the income front as we were only saving 3% of our income (company matched it up to 3%).  My husband was in IT with a degree, had multiple years of experience, has great people skills, and when he finally felt forced into looking for a job (not due to money, but due to personality differences) he ended up with the job in 3 weeks with a salary of 60K. Made another move in less than a year and was making 78K and it's only gone up from there.  Had he done that a few years sooner, his compensation now would probably be closer to 120K including the pension and we'd be that much closer to our goals.


Trixr606 - do you have a journal?  I find it great fun to follow people with crazy levels of income.  Nice job!!!  7K a month - wow!!

CommonCents

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #118 on: November 17, 2015, 08:08:56 AM »
Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

You were the most recent post, but not the only post, on this idea that 10% going to charity or tithing can prevent FIRE. 

I'm going to call bullshit on that.  I don't think tithing alone that would do it, I think it would require multiple non-negotiables.

There are many on this Board who save 50% or more.  Some, like Arebelspy Herbert Deep, save 90%.  Looking at the shockingly simple math, let's see what subtracting 10% from savings does:

20% to 10%: Adds 14 years
25% to 15%: Adds 11 years
30%: 9
35%: 7
40%: 6
45%: 6
50%: 5
55%: 4.5
60%: 4.5
65%: 4
70%: 4
75%: 3.5
80%: 3
85%: 3
90%: Under 2.5

So if the poster can get the savings percentage up (I think from a chart I saw here earlier most mustachians are saving *at least 30%*, and really most at 40%+), you're talking 3-7 years for a values choice.  Heck, many people's "OMY" has been 3+ years!

Yes, it will be long journey for the 20% saver reduced to 10%, but those are really the only ones that might not FIRE.  But save just 5% more through tips gleaned on this forum, reduce the journey to "only" 43 years (20%+5% then after subtracting 10% tithe/charity you're at 15%) and you are still retiring early from "normal" retirement age of 65-68, at 61 (18+43=61).  It's less than most here would want, but it IS early.

That's the awesome part of the message, that small changes can have big cumulative effects.  In fact, I'd venture to say that for these case studies, giving a few tips that saves 5% here and there makes a much more significant impact than a case study at 55%-65% saving, where a bump just shaves off 2 years.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 10:03:22 AM by CommonCents »

use2betrix

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #119 on: November 17, 2015, 08:15:39 AM »

Trixr606 - do you have a journal?  I find it great fun to follow people with crazy levels of income.  Nice job!!!  7K a month - wow!!

No journal but I've been thinking about starting one, maybe after the new year when I get my wedding out of the way lol. Not terribly expensive but not the most mustachian either. I travel and do contract work all over the country which is why my income is higher. No kids makes it easier but once I have kids and they start school things will drastically change.

Thanks for the journal reminder, I will make that a goal to hold myself accountable after the new year :)

JLee

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #120 on: November 17, 2015, 08:27:10 AM »
Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

You were the most recent post, but not the only post, on this idea that 10% going to charity or tithing can prevent FIRE. 

I'm going to call bullshit on that.  I don't think tithing alone that would do it, I think it would require multiple non-negotiables.

There are many on this Board who save 50% or more.  Some, like Arebelspy, save 90%.  Looking at the shockingly simple math, let's see what subtracting 10% from savings does:

20% to 10%: Adds 14 years
25% to 15%: Adds 11 years
30%: 9
35%: 7
40%: 6
45%: 6
50%: 5
55%: 4.5
60%: 4.5
65%: 4
70%: 4
75%: 3.5
80%: 3
85%: 3
90%: Under 2.5

So if the poster can get the savings percentage up (I think from a chart I saw here earlier most mustachians are saving *at least 30%*, and really most at 40%+), you're talking 3-7 years for a values choice.  Heck, many people's "OMY" has been 3+ years!

Yes, it will be long journey for the 20% saver reduced to 10%, but those are really the only ones that might not FIRE.  But save just 5% more through tips gleaned on this forum, reduce the journey to "only" 43 years (20%+5% then after subtracting 10% tithe/charity you're at 15%) and you are still retiring early from "normal" retirement age of 65-68, at 61 (18+43=61).  It's less than most here would want, but it IS early.

That's the awesome part of the message, that small changes can have big cumulative effects.  In fact, I'd venture to say that for these case studies, giving a few tips that saves 5% here and there makes a much more significant impact than a case study at 55%-65% saving, where a bump just shaves off 2 years.

People saving 50-90% are not generally posting case studies.  The impression I have from reading this thread is most people have no problem with someone tithing if their finances are otherwise in good shape, but this is the situation that becomes frustrating:

(no particular reference, just made up offhand)

Monthly net income, $3000

Tithe (non-negotiable): $300 (or substantially more if calculated off of gross income)
Rent: $800
Phone: $80
Car insurance: $100
Car payment: $300
Food: $400
Utilities: $200
Gym: $100
Gas: $120
Paying $300/mo to $50k student loans at 3%
Paying $250/mo on $5k credit card debt at 11%
Saving $50/mo

Sure, we can knock the phone down a bit, groceries, downsize the car, etc -- but cutting tithe while they are trying to dig themselves out of a hole would be immensely helpful.

CommonCents

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #121 on: November 17, 2015, 08:32:23 AM »
I agree people at the higher end of saving aren't posting case studies, which is why I noted at the end how much a difference the 5% saved can make for the "new" mustachian.  (Trying to stop people from feeling discouraged about their impact.)  At the beginning, saving just 5% more cuts off 6-15 years.  And it's often a snowball effect - seeing the impact of 5% gets them fired up to do more.

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #122 on: November 17, 2015, 08:40:41 AM »
I don't understand a required or suggested tithe. All the directives toward a tenth are from the old testament and no where in the new testament is 10% mentioned. The Jewish faith considers tithing as commanded by the old testament a sin.

If Christians are under the "new covenant" which does not require or suggest tithing, and the Jewish faith that still abides by the law of Moses "the old covenant" (aka old testament) considers tithing a sin; then how do Christian churches justify the tithe?

Right, and in my post I referenced the 10%, but that's just thrown out there as a guideline because in the absence of specific instruction we're forced to confront the uncomfortable possibility that Jesus wants us to own nothing.

For those outside the church wondering why the church needs the money, there are some legitimate expenses. 

First off, you have a building that sits empty for much of the day, aside from a small office area in which the pastor/priest and the church staff take care of daily business.  This building tends to be rather large, and the reality is you have to provide some conditioning, to stave off mildew in the South and Freezing in the North.  The electricity/heat bill for churches is a huge expense, usually the largest.

The second highest expense is usually a deferred maintenance type budget.  Churches need new roofs too, there's plumbing, equipment for HVAC, etc.

Cleaning is a large line item, right after services everybody poops (unless you're Catholic, then nobody poops but you).

There's printing costs, supplies, coffee, etc.  Many larger churches also operate a bookstore which will typically operate at a minor loss.

Equipment purchases: tables and chairs for sunday school/bible study/aa meetings wear out and have to be replaced.

So you have all the same expenses associated with any large entertainment complex, but without the 7 day/wk revenue stream.  The comments here about the salary for the pastor are missing the forest for the trees.  No church budget I've ever seen pays the pastor anywhere close to as much as even one of the above costs I've mentioned, and it's arguably the most critical piece of the whole organization to get right.

Not to say there's no hypocrisy, and not to say it couldn't be done better.

An MMM church, for example, would meet in a park.  The "church" would be a van that can hold some audio/visual equipment.  The printing costs would be zero, because everything would be organized online via our church app.  After big church, the various bible study groups would walk/bike to each other's houses.  Every position with the church would be volunteer, on a rotating basis.  Everyone would put money in a hat to cover maintenance/gas for the van.

That's probably what Jesus intended.

From a practical standpoint, for a church you currently attend and enjoy, if you aren't donating money you are literally stealing from everyone else who is.  It'd be like not paying your taxes.  Now, everyone there is cool with you doing that, it's sort of the whole point.  But part of growing as a person and becoming an adult is recognizing that things have to paid for, and church is no different.  You can't build a 20,000 sq. ft. building in downtown anywhere, keep it at 70 degrees and staffed with friendly smiling people for free.  Not in this world, not in any world.

But as someone who from time to time attends church and donates my time/money to it, if you are massively in debt/having trouble saving please don't try and give money to the church.  We've got it covered, get your shit together, you can help so many more people once you yourself are set.

It's that whole thing with breakage.  At a 10% profit margin, how many extra products do I have to sell to make up for even one that breaks? Ten.  You tithing when you can't afford it, and ending up broken, will require ten people who have their shit together to cover.

Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #123 on: November 17, 2015, 08:45:24 AM »
Jlee - just seems if someone is stuck on tithe, then the next step is to get them to increase their income.  We once had a tax preparer mildly encourage us to ditch the tithe to save more money.  Had he instead said "I get this is important to you, but you must make and save more money to retire, if you want help with figuring that out, I'd be happy to help" that would have been much more impactful for us.

Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #124 on: November 17, 2015, 08:59:14 AM »


An MMM church, for example, would meet in a park.  The "church" would be a van that can hold some audio/visual equipment.  The printing costs would be zero, because everything would be organized online via our church app.  After big church, the various bible study groups would walk/bike to each other's houses.  Every position with the church would be volunteer, on a rotating basis.  Everyone would put money in a hat to cover maintenance/gas for the van.

That's probably what Jesus intended.

I would love to see this kind of church.  We couldn't meet in the park year round though, due to Midwest temps, but quite a few churches will meet in bars on Sunday mornings (pay rent) or movie theaters.  I would so love this kind of church.

JLee

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #125 on: November 17, 2015, 09:05:49 AM »
Jlee - just seems if someone is stuck on tithe, then the next step is to get them to increase their income.  We once had a tax preparer mildly encourage us to ditch the tithe to save more money.  Had he instead said "I get this is important to you, but you must make and save more money to retire, if you want help with figuring that out, I'd be happy to help" that would have been much more impactful for us.

I agree - increasing income is generally beneficial in all respects.  I will admit that I am intrigued by people who don't have an inherent drive to increase their income, though...I don't really understand that.

justajane

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #126 on: November 17, 2015, 09:11:37 AM »
@ TheOldestYoungMan
You're making me want to pull out our church budget now. I'm not sure if I saved a copy of ours from the last annual budget meeting, but the entire budget for our small (ca. 150 member church) is 350K. I would say 40% of that is staff (including two pastors, a cleaning person, part-time music director, organist, and part-time secretary), 30%  building expenses, and 30% benevolences (missionaries, charities, etc). I have heard but can't verify that having 30% in benevolences is somewhat high.

My biggest struggle with my church is that the benevolences wouldn't be my first choice. Some of the things we give to I actively disagree with. One reason I will likely never tithe is because I would rather my charitable giving go elsewhere. We have certain charities that we value over the religious-based ones that my church has chosen to donate to.

But, yes, I think it is only right that I donate money towards the salaries of the pastors and the upkeep of the building.

Quote
Cleaning is a large line item, right after services everybody poops (unless you're Catholic, then nobody poops but you)

Thanks for the laugh. We needed some levity here.

Faraday

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #127 on: November 17, 2015, 09:20:52 AM »
justajane and others - there is a very specific case study I have in mind when thinking about this thread. The posters were in the PNW, and they were deeply in trouble. Everyone who posted in that thread talked about them being in a hair-on-fire emergency situation. They had kids and they were, like, a month away from living in their car. They had a goodly amount of debt, not much income, only one worked, etc. and they posted this amazing tithe.

I have been looking for this thread and honestly I just can't find it. I didn't comment so it's not in my own history so I can find it.

Does anyone remember that thread? Is it possible to post only the items from the case study and maybe a little bit of text?

I don't want to personalize this at all. I don't care who they were. I am simply interested in making sure we give adequate definition to this thread.

Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #128 on: November 17, 2015, 09:26:19 AM »
Jlee - just seems if someone is stuck on tithe, then the next step is to get them to increase their income.  We once had a tax preparer mildly encourage us to ditch the tithe to save more money.  Had he instead said "I get this is important to you, but you must make and save more money to retire, if you want help with figuring that out, I'd be happy to help" that would have been much more impactful for us.

I agree - increasing income is generally beneficial in all respects.  I will admit that I am intrigued by people who don't have an inherent drive to increase their income, though...I don't really understand that.

I'd say we were content with our income, but my husband did aggressively seek raises and then made very strategic moves once he did move, so I guess we did seek it out.

I was very passive about it when I was working.  I'd change jobs and not even ask about the compensation, if it was a job I wanted.  But that was back DINK days and my income was nice but not necessary.  When I start working again, it will be with a school, and I won't be able to job-hop to make more but then again, I'm looking for a job I find fulfilling and I've been teaching for free for years, so getting paid will be a nice bonus. 

rockstache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #129 on: November 17, 2015, 09:27:51 AM »
I'm really enjoying this mostly respectful discussion.

Theoldestyoungman, that was a great post. I would absolutely love to attend your MMM church (are you starting it soon?? :)  ). Maybe this is the type of attitude that we will look for in our next one (not church hoppers - we just plan to move in the next few years).

Justajane, I can see your struggle with tithing to things you don't agree with. In our church, you can designate on the check where you want your money to go (building, specific missionary, etc.). If you don't specify, then of course it will just go to a general fund. I like how transparent your church is with the finances though, I don't think this is very common.

We do tithe, and we do save quite a bit. I have never posted a case study, but mostly because I think through reading and gradually optimizing, we are giving up our poor spending habits on our own time line. Our 'tithe' is divided (unequally) between our church, a ministry that my husband chose, a charity that we chose together, and a hospice charity which friends of mine run. We also keep a small portion of it for things that we hear of throughout the year that we feel compelled to give to, usually on a local level. We still give in part to the church because of the building/utility/salary requirements that were mentioned by some people above. All in all, I feel that the obligation (for lack of better word) to tithe is a private one between us and God, and is not an agreement between myself and the church that I happen to attend.

rockstache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #130 on: November 17, 2015, 09:39:46 AM »
justajane and others - there is a very specific case study I have in mind when thinking about this thread. The posters were in the PNW, and they were deeply in trouble. Everyone who posted in that thread talked about them being in a hair-on-fire emergency situation. They had kids and they were, like, a month away from living in their car. They had a goodly amount of debt, not much income, only one worked, etc. and they posted this amazing tithe.

I have been looking for this thread and honestly I just can't find it. I didn't comment so it's not in my own history so I can find it.

Does anyone remember that thread? Is it possible to post only the items from the case study and maybe a little bit of text?

I don't want to personalize this at all. I don't care who they were. I am simply interested in making sure we give adequate definition to this thread.

I don't remember who it was, but I do remember reading it. I don't believe in tithing while you owe. In my mind, you are then choosing to prioritize one part of the Bible over another. Romans 13:8a, "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another;" I would personally make an exception for a house (if I wanted one), but for the people that are overspending in their lives to stick it on a CC or get bailed out by a family member...no. Just no.

Now I'm getting into personal interpretation here, so for those of you who tithe with a car payment/student loan with a low interest rate etc... please don't take this as a criticism. This is just my own personal philosophy, and as we are discussing religion, it is personal. I won't criticize the way you interpret it for your own life.

If someone can't give up tithe because it doesn't fit with your beliefs then fine, but as Justajane said previously, then they must be willing to cut the cell phone/gym/special diet etc.

Spork

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #131 on: November 17, 2015, 09:44:24 AM »

Forgive me if this is a heretical question.  I'm very much not religious, but I don't mean this in a snarky way. 

In a real hair-on-fire emergency where you're about to go underwater and lose the house/car/kids/etc, doesn't "God understand"?  What I mean is, if you truly believe in God and tithing ... can you not work out an IOU to God?  I.e. I don't mean "don't pay it".  I mean: "keep track, pay it in full in the future (possibly with interest)".

JLee

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #132 on: November 17, 2015, 09:46:50 AM »
justajane and others - there is a very specific case study I have in mind when thinking about this thread. The posters were in the PNW, and they were deeply in trouble. Everyone who posted in that thread talked about them being in a hair-on-fire emergency situation. They had kids and they were, like, a month away from living in their car. They had a goodly amount of debt, not much income, only one worked, etc. and they posted this amazing tithe.

I have been looking for this thread and honestly I just can't find it. I didn't comment so it's not in my own history so I can find it.

Does anyone remember that thread? Is it possible to post only the items from the case study and maybe a little bit of text?

I don't want to personalize this at all. I don't care who they were. I am simply interested in making sure we give adequate definition to this thread.

I'm not sure if this is the one you're thinking of, but it is relevant (rephrased to be concise):

Quote
65k/yr single income, wife does not work. 3 kids at home.

Living rent-free in dad's house's basement (who's waiting for them to move out so he can sell his house and retire).

$22k in credit card debt.

$1000 in savings.

Tithing 10% and unwilling to compromise.

arebelspy

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #133 on: November 17, 2015, 09:53:31 AM »
There are many on this Board who save 50% or more.  Some, like Arebelspy, save 90%.

Hah, thanks for the compliment, but I'm not nearly that badass.  :)

Our long term savings rate was about 73% (73.37% from the five year period when I started tracking our spending in April 2010 through right before we FIRE'd in June 2015, and 73.34% from the 12 months before FIRE, so basically exactly in line with our 5-year savings rate).

I think we could have pushed it to north of 80%, maybe even 85%, if we wanted to try to cut our spending, but I don't think I could have hit 90%, on our income, without paying off our residence or something like that.  And cutting our spending was never something I was interested in--I like my facepunch iPhone plan, and our ridiculous luxuries.  :)
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Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #134 on: November 17, 2015, 10:01:47 AM »

I'm not sure if this is the one you're thinking of, but it is relevant (rephrased to be concise):

Quote
65k/yr single income, wife does not work. 3 kids at home.

Living rent-free in dad's house's basement (who's waiting for them to move out so he can sell his house and retire).

$22k in credit card debt.

$1000 in savings.

Tithing 10% and unwilling to compromise.


Okay, in the above example, after tithe/taxes, they still should have had like 3.5-4K in income each month, no rent, where was the rest of it going?!? 

With no rent they should have been able to live off of 2K and still save/payoff 2K a month.  The tithe slows them down but the bigger problem is spending. 

So when everyone harps on the tithe, and they won't budge, hopefully people switch gears and attack the other areas.  The tithe is not the problem in the above scenario - spending decisions past and present are. 

CommonCents

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #135 on: November 17, 2015, 10:02:22 AM »
There are many on this Board who save 50% or more.  Some, like Arebelspy, save 90%.

Hah, thanks for the compliment, but I'm not nearly that badass.  :)

Our long term savings rate was about 73% (73.37% from the five year period when I started tracking our spending in April 2010 through right before we FIRE'd in June 2015, and 73.34% from the 12 months before FIRE, so basically exactly in line with our 5-year savings rate).

I think we could have pushed it to north of 80%, maybe even 85%, if we wanted to try to cut our spending, but I don't think I could have hit 90%, on our income, without paying off our residence or something like that.  And cutting our spending was never something I was interested in--I like my facepunch iPhone plan, and our ridiculous luxuries.  :)

Hmm, I thought you hit 85-90% regularly.  You have now greatly disappointed me and I will just have to look up to Herbert Deep (and only Herbert) now! 

Goldielocks

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #136 on: November 17, 2015, 10:15:56 AM »
A lot of people have third rails in their budget:
- Pets (particularly unhealthy ones requiring special diets and vet visits
- Children (particularly education/activities)
- Cable or other form of entertainment (e.g. horses, sailing, D&D meetups)
- Housing location or size
- and, yes, tithing.

To borrow from the bible for this conversation, let the one w/o mustachian "sin" (luxuries) cast the first stone.  We all have our own form of luxuries in the budget, be it fancy cheese or tithing.  The goal is to identify the priorities and spend accordingly, rather than wasting our money on things that aren't important to us.  I myself have an unmustachian house in a fancy neighborhood in an expensive town (which costs more than tithing 10% would) - but I love it, and we spend little on entertainment, cars (we drive an '02 Honda Civic), pets, and have no kids.

While there are aberrations (and yes, they are frustrating), for those who are tithing, there usually are still plenty of other areas to optimize.  I've actually felt that on the whole, those who tithe are so determined to protect it that they are more open to other suggestions than others on the board who don't tithe.  (That said I haven't read a recent case study story which could be sparking this conversation.)  It's certainly worthwhile to question if it is necessary or if, for example, the poster can donate time instead, but after the poster has done that evaluation, it seems to waste time to continue to debate the point.  And if there truly is nothing else that can be offered to be cut, well, all you need to do is say that.  The poster can then decide if they want to reevaluate if no one is able to otherwise help them.

btw, I'm not particularly religious but my sister who is fairly active in her church, got her current job through a church recommendation.  She had interviewed, but they hadn't yet decided, when a church member heard and said, "I know the CEO" called him up and told him to hire her, and she was soon after.

To the earlier poster equating unwillingness to pay tax as coming mostly from the Americans, it just may be a factor of more Americans in general posting here, than being indicative of anything more.  I'm American, I live in a state known for high taxes ("Taxachusetts"), and I'm perfectly happy that it goes to pay for my roads, health care (wish it covered more), libraries, public education, etc.
You forgot food eating choices on your list.

We have seen many insist on a certain diet as non negotiable even if it is a major cost.

One good thing from this thread.. After reading it I tripled my donation this week.   Good to be reminded how blessed I am to be able to think about FIRE.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 10:25:12 AM by goldielocks »

arebelspy

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #137 on: November 17, 2015, 10:16:25 AM »
Hmm, I thought you hit 85-90% regularly.  You have now greatly disappointed me and I will just have to look up to Herbert Deep (and only Herbert) now!

Good choice!  THAT guy is badass!  :D
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JLee

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #138 on: November 17, 2015, 10:17:58 AM »

I'm not sure if this is the one you're thinking of, but it is relevant (rephrased to be concise):

Quote
65k/yr single income, wife does not work. 3 kids at home.

Living rent-free in dad's house's basement (who's waiting for them to move out so he can sell his house and retire).

$22k in credit card debt.

$1000 in savings.

Tithing 10% and unwilling to compromise.


Okay, in the above example, after tithe/taxes, they still should have had like 3.5-4K in income each month, no rent, where was the rest of it going?!? 

With no rent they should have been able to live off of 2K and still save/payoff 2K a month.  The tithe slows them down but the bigger problem is spending. 

So when everyone harps on the tithe, and they won't budge, hopefully people switch gears and attack the other areas.  The tithe is not the problem in the above scenario - spending decisions past and present are.

The case study was not very thorough - but I disagree with you here. If you're bumming off of your dad while he's waiting for you to move your family of 5 out so he can sell his house *and* you have $22,000 in credit card debt, that should be your priority.  Abusing your parent's charity so you can donate to others is misguided. Paying off debt at $2k/mo will still take eleven months or more.

As for "past spending decisions" being the problem, no shit! That doesn't mean that current misguided priorities just vanish.

Faraday

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #139 on: November 17, 2015, 10:46:40 AM »

I'm not sure if this is the one you're thinking of, but it is relevant (rephrased to be concise):

Quote
65k/yr single income, wife does not work. 3 kids at home.

Living rent-free in dad's house's basement (who's waiting for them to move out so he can sell his house and retire).

$22k in credit card debt.

$1000 in savings.

Tithing 10% and unwilling to compromise.


Okay, in the above example, after tithe/taxes, they still should have had like 3.5-4K in income each month, no rent, where was the rest of it going?!? 

With no rent they should have been able to live off of 2K and still save/payoff 2K a month.  The tithe slows them down but the bigger problem is spending. 

So when everyone harps on the tithe, and they won't budge, hopefully people switch gears and attack the other areas.  The tithe is not the problem in the above scenario - spending decisions past and present are.

The case study was not very thorough - but I disagree with you here. If you're bumming off of your dad while he's waiting for you to move your family of 5 out so he can sell his house *and* you have $22,000 in credit card debt, that should be your priority.  Abusing your parent's charity so you can donate to others is misguided. Paying off debt at $2k/mo will still take eleven months or more.

As for "past spending decisions" being the problem, no shit! That doesn't mean that current misguided priorities just vanish.

I don't think that's it. This one was really, really bad. It was like they were about to go down in flames, husband had a daily commute that included having to pay for ferries across Puget Sound, was driving some big vehicle that got terrible MPG, had a buttload of debt, something bad about housing about to happen (like they expected to lose their house and that's why they posted).  I seem to recall that they were putting off payback of at least one of their debts.

When I read it, it looked to me like they were mere weeks away from having to live at the Salvation Army. It was an extreme case study and people fairly well JUMPED into it calling the hair-on-fire alarm. Yet they were totally enforcing the "don't touch my tithe, dude" line.

Now that I put it this way, it occurs to me the money may not have been a tithe at all, but the monthly cost of their Drug of Choice and they just called it a tithe in order to keep us off that item. So we could dispense the magic beans, that is. :-)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 10:49:49 AM by Faraday »

JLee

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #140 on: November 17, 2015, 10:49:18 AM »
Ah, yeah that sounds like a different one. This one had a 40 mile commute, but living free in a house that had a $2k/mo mortgage. If they had rented their own apartment at $1k/mo, their debt payoff would be stretched to multiple years..but it wasn't quite as bad as the situation you describe.

Faraday

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #141 on: November 17, 2015, 10:52:34 AM »
Ah, yeah that sounds like a different one. This one had a 40 mile commute, but living free in a house that had a $2k/mo mortgage. If they had rented their own apartment at $1k/mo, their debt payoff would be stretched to multiple years..but it wasn't quite as bad as the situation you describe.

JLee, you get where I'm going with this, right? The original question of this thread has nothing to do with challenging tithes on a religious basis or challenging the spiritual need to do so.

The question really is "WTF do you do with an expense that no one's standing on your head for, when you are quite literally going down the tubes?"

JLee

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #142 on: November 17, 2015, 10:53:59 AM »
Ah, yeah that sounds like a different one. This one had a 40 mile commute, but living free in a house that had a $2k/mo mortgage. If they had rented their own apartment at $1k/mo, their debt payoff would be stretched to multiple years..but it wasn't quite as bad as the situation you describe.

JLee, you get where I'm going with this, right? The original question of this thread has nothing to do with challenging tithes on a religious basis or challenging the spiritual need to do so.

The question really is "WTF do you do with an expense that no one's standing on your head for, when you are quite literally going down the tubes?"

Absolutely -- it boils down to prioritization of income, regardless of its destination.

Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #143 on: November 17, 2015, 10:55:16 AM »
I agree with you JLee about not taking advantage of his dad while giving, but this seems like an extreme example in what is probably a HCOL area with an enabling parent.  Doesn't seem to be the norm when tithing it concerned. But then again, I stopped hanging out in the case study area because it got boring.  Maybe it's full of basement dwelling non-rent paying tithers.

I'd probably encourage/admonish him with a choice verse from Timothy.  But again, I know which verses to use because I am one of them (muahahaha).  I think in most cases, unless you are a tither and understand the psychology behind it, it's probably best just to say your piece and then move on to other areas where they can optimize, if your goal is to help them.  There are many reasons people tithe - guilt - misapplication of historical tithe - superstition (prosperity gospel) -  fear of losing membership/privileges if they stop - false sense of superiority for being so humble/content that they don't use all their income.  You don't get it?  Fine.  Let the tithers/believers in the group deal with it.  Otherwise they will look at your negative reaction to their tithe as proof that they are doing the right thing because they are feeling pushback by nonbelievers/people who don't believe in their interpretation of the Bible.  Don't play into it by harping on it. 

 I'll be as sweet as possible while I beat them on the head with the Bible.  Bible-thumps instead of face-punches?


Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #144 on: November 17, 2015, 11:02:48 AM »

I don't think that's it. This one was really, really bad. It was like they were about to go down in flames, husband had a daily commute that included having to pay for ferries across Puget Sound, was driving some big vehicle that got terrible MPG, had a buttload of debt, something bad about housing about to happen (like they expected to lose their house and that's why they posted).  I seem to recall that they were putting off payback of at least one of their debts.

When I read it, it looked to me like they were mere weeks away from having to live at the Salvation Army. It was an extreme case study and people fairly well JUMPED into it calling the hair-on-fire alarm. Yet they were totally enforcing the "don't touch my tithe, dude" line.

Now that I put it this way, it occurs to me the money may not have been a tithe at all, but the monthly cost of their Drug of Choice and they just called it a tithe in order to keep us off that item. So we could dispense the magic beans, that is. :-)

I've seen a similar situation play out and the people lost their house and ended up living with parents.  I had tried to counsel them to cut back spending on kid's activities/gym membership etc. and they just wouldn't do it.  They lost their house and ended up buying a homesteading type property in town with his mom. 

It all ended up fine.  He's making more money now, she gardens and keeps chickens, and the kids outgrew the expensive stuff that cost them money.  They didn't live on the street, nor would they have, because church members would have taken them in (and given them bible-coated face punches).

Really, in these cases, I think they just need to lose the house, hit bottom, and start over.  If they are that set on tithing, let them tithe while living in a fellow church members basement who also agrees and understands the practice.

JLee

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #145 on: November 17, 2015, 11:03:44 AM »
I agree with you JLee about not taking advantage of his dad while giving, but this seems like an extreme example in what is probably a HCOL area with an enabling parent.  Doesn't seem to be the norm when tithing it concerned. But then again, I stopped hanging out in the case study area because it got boring.  Maybe it's full of basement dwelling non-rent paying tithers.

I'd probably encourage/admonish him with a choice verse from Timothy.  But again, I know which verses to use because I am one of them (muahahaha).  I think in most cases, unless you are a tither and understand the psychology behind it, it's probably best just to say your piece and then move on to other areas where they can optimize, if your goal is to help them.  There are many reasons people tithe - guilt - misapplication of historical tithe - superstition (prosperity gospel) -  fear of losing membership/privileges if they stop - false sense of superiority for being so humble/content that they don't use all their income.  You don't get it?  Fine.  Let the tithers/believers in the group deal with it.  Otherwise they will look at your negative reaction to their tithe as proof that they are doing the right thing because they are feeling pushback by nonbelievers/people who don't believe in their interpretation of the Bible.  Don't play into it by harping on it. 

 I'll be as sweet as possible while I beat them on the head with the Bible.  Bible-thumps instead of face-punches?

I started tithing when I started working at 11 years old (or possibly earlier from gifts/etc..I don't remember too well). I am no longer religious, but I am very well aware of the reasons.

Neustache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #146 on: November 17, 2015, 11:22:35 AM »

But you aren't a current believer.  Bottom line is your words won't hold as much weight as someone who currently believes, and you probably know that if you grew up in the culture. 

ditheca

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #147 on: November 17, 2015, 11:52:45 AM »
OT, I'm not religious, but I can certainly see how tithing might be a flashpoint - is this done at the individual church/place-of-worship level, or some national body? Since we're talking money here, is this contribution tax-deductible? Where I grew up we have a relatively large Mormon population which I believe does tithing, but I never learned how it works.

Mormons are asked to donate 10% of their 'income' as a tithe.  There is no further official explanation of 'income' or how to calculate it (gross, net, etc.).  If you want to serve a mission or enter a temple, you'll need to be able to say that you have fully paid your tithing.  That conversation occurs privately between an individual and the local bishop.  Other members have no reason to know who in the congregation pays tithing.  Mormon tithes are centralized, they all go to headquarters and then are paid back to the local congregation according to annual budget requirements.

Yes, as a contribution to a non-profit, tithes are tax-deductible in the USA.

Source: I am a Mormon.

APowers

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #148 on: November 17, 2015, 12:03:34 PM »
I appreciate and agree with shelivesthedream's perspective:

Or, maybe it's because Christians have a duty to help the poor. The poor are a huge part of the gospels. Jesus tells his disciples to sell all they have and give it to the poor. In that case they need to consider whether their labour would also help the poor, and whether "the church" and "the poor" are the same thing. A few of the posters need to realise that they ARE the poor! If they are in huge debt with a large family and only one income, THEY are the people that OTHER people need to be helping! They should not be digging themselves in further! I have never quite understood how for many Christians money-borrowers are totally fine while moneylenders are definitely evil. Also, as others have mentioned, "the poor" are helped by the state these days, so they should reconsider whether their tithing is still applicable.

Tithers also need to accept that 10% is A LOT when we're talking about savings percentages. This may mean that they can never retire early. The magic money fairy isn't going to come and sprinkle them with fairy dust to grow their investments. The maths doesn't lie, and they need to make their choices and accept the consequences.

This is why I explicitly asked for examples in which the tithe does work, because a large part of me wants it to work for families. Unfortunately, I have mostly seen case studies in which it doesn't work. The couple is drowning in debt and have no savings. I tend to want to throw myself into those case studies because I want to help and I want to see them live a more secure financial and less stressed life. But the tithe makes getting ahead with a large family and a lower income extremely difficult. FIRE (presumably why most of us are here) is a distant dream.

With regard to the "tithe is to help the poor"

Being a person who does "tithe"...

I don't give my "tithe" to church. Instead, it goes into a checking account, to be spent on such things as I "hear" God tell me to spend it on. So far, it has paid a co-worker's utility bill, been loaned to another co-worker (and repaid); currently, there's about $11.5k in the account, and it is our emergency fund, because (unless directed otherwise) my dependents (wife/kids) being homeless/destitute is THE poverty situation that I know how best to help, and the best help is prevention.
---------------
My case study looks like:

Net income: ~$1,900/mo

Expenses: $850/mo
"Tithe": $85/mo*

*Yes, my "tithe" is based on my budget rather than my (variable) income. I used to do it out of every paycheck, but now I get check + cash tips, and I bailed on doing the funky math for something more straightforward and easy. Also, I try not to call it a "tithe" (notice how it's in scare quotes....), 'cause technically it's not, but it is effectively the same thing, so....
-----------------------------

And this works for us. If all goes according to plan, we ("we" meaning me, wife, and 2 kids) will be FIREd when I'm 35 (I'm 27 now).

K-ice

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #149 on: November 17, 2015, 12:54:22 PM »
I wondered if the tithe was 10% of gross income or 10% of paycheck.

It probably depends on the church.  10% of gross would be a large blow since considerable taxes and pension come off of my paycheck.

For someone in debt, I would double check the expectations.