Author Topic: The Non-negotiable Tithe  (Read 60663 times)

justajane

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The Non-negotiable Tithe
« on: November 15, 2015, 03:25:43 PM »
I'm starting a thread for this, because I regularly encounter Case Studies in which the poster has a line item for tithing that is more often than not labeled "non-negotiable", i.e. not up for discussion.

While I can certainly respect a decision to give to others, it oftentimes makes it hard to advise someone about what to do when the answer to their financial difficulties is staring them right in the face. And the whole point of Mustachianism is questioning your spending and doing radical things to up your savings rate. This is very hard to do when there are such significant non-negotiables in the budget. Tithing just tends to be much more prevalent and seems to make up a larger part of the budget than other "non-negotiables" we encounter. Plus, because of the delicate nature of the tithe, we are allowed to challenge people on other supposed non-negotiables in a way that we can't with the tithe.

In my experience, at least, the non-negotiable tithe demands that the OP be very open to cutting other parts of their budget to the bone, else they will be treading water for years to come. So basically, the OP is left with two options.

1) Be ruthless with the rest of the budget. $10 flip phones, rice and beans budget, much cheaper housing, etc.

2) Admit that FIRE is not in the cards for them, at least not on the timeline that others on here have.

What are your thoughts? I don't intend for this to be a discussion about the theological imperative or lack thereof for tithing, although I am open to anyone else's thoughts, whatever direction this discussion goes.

I would also appreciate any links to budgets of yore in which the tithe does work. Is it just in the budgets of those with higher incomes in which the tithe doesn't run counter to FIRE? Or have those families with more modest incomes managed to make it work? In my experience, I haven't seen this as explicitly as I would like. 

Travis

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 03:38:41 PM »
That can often be the third rail in case studies where the person's religious or humanitarian (whatever the motivation) beliefs get in the way of what should be a cold economic equation.  In the instances where the person was willing to bend a little bit, we've been able to get them to either lower the amount or trade the money for volunteer work or some other form of giving.  In many case studies the person walks in with "non-negotiables" where compromising with them is a vital first step if you hope to get them to see the simple truth of the math equations we're throwing at them.  If they reduce the tithe to 5% and see how quickly that debt is getting paid off they might be willing to dip a little further. This applies to any spending category the person doesn't want to part with.

My wife has always felt bad that we've never tithed to the church, but there were two important factors in that. 1) I'm not religious, and 2) Until recently I was the only source of income.  I'm not saying this to start a "my money" argument, but we agreed that it wouldn't be fair to me to donate so much of my paycheck to a church I don't attend or believe in.  Now that she's employed, 10% of her check goes to the church.  She feels better about satisfying that part of her faith, and since I make ten times what she does it has little impact on our FIRE date.

jb130

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2015, 03:41:03 PM »
I was encouraged to tithe as a student, by a middle class church whose leaders drove BMWs. I came from a poor family and used debt to gain a university education. I was encouraged to tithe even the student loans. A mild version of the prosperity gospel was preached.

I was basing the most important decisions in life on the subjective imagination of faith whilst subjecting the mundane to scrutiny, logic and reason. I thankfully realised the stupidity of this approach and stopped being both poor and stupid.

marty998

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2015, 03:42:15 PM »
10% of income from each parishioner adds up to a very large number. I'm interested to know what these churches actually spend the money on.

We have a pentecostal type church in Australia that operates more like a corporate industrial complex. Anyone heard of Hillsong? NW Sydney roots that have taken on the world - their music tops the charts in most of America.

I can't help but feel the poor are feeding the rich in that community.

If people want to give then they can give. It's their money their life. But yes I do find the non-negotiable line in case studies disingenuous sometimes.

Giving is a good thing, but don't pretend it doesn't have an impact on your own finances.

southern granny

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2015, 03:55:09 PM »
10% of income from each parishioner adds up to a very large number. I'm interested to know what these churches actually spend the money on.

At our church we have quarterly business meetings, where budgets are passed out that shows all contributions and all expenditures.  There is opportunity for anyone to ask questions.  And yes I do tithe.  When we had almost nothing we tithed and now that we are doing well, we still tithe.  It has always been non-negotiable for us also.

StetsTerhune

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2015, 03:56:19 PM »
The thing I've always wondered about Tithing Mustachians is what they plan to do during early retirement. Give 10% of total investment income (whatever it may be that year)? Give 10% of annual spend? Give nothing because you have no "earned income'?

rockstache

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2015, 04:18:35 PM »
I don't think anyone that is non-religious can grasp the tithe item without first accepting the premise of the OP that God is real and active in their life. If this is true, and they believe that God has asked them to give, then He will naturally provide for them in their adherence to that. However if He isn't real and that isn't true, then of course the tithe line item is ridiculous giving to a bunch of greedy non-profit organizations.

I don't really like pets. I've had a dog and I enjoyed it when I was young, but I have no desire to own one at this point in my life. But when people come on the board with 3 large non-negotiable dogs, I get it. They're never going to be my 'family' but I understand that that person sees life differently and then I try to think of other ways that they could make cuts.

It's not a great analogy I admit, but for me it's just a matter of accepting that people are different and have different priorities. I think that keeps things interesting around here, which I like.

Moustachienne

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2015, 04:36:39 PM »
DH and I are non-religious but have always donated at least 5%, and often more, of our income to charities/causes we believe in.  It's kind of like a "pay yourself first" behaviour, i.e. support important things before spending on non-important.  Of course, everyone's important/unimportant will vary.  We are willing to cut a lot of our other discretionary spending before reducing this percentage.  In fact, it's one of the big appeals of the MMM approach.  Optimize expenditures in order to spend on what matters to us - and it seems there's a lot of consumer sukka spending that can be cut first.

So if supporting someone's church is an important value, I'd say great to spend there and cut elsewhere.  Now if there's hair on fire debt - other action may be requited!

Once we retire, we will cut our total giving $ but will need to think hard re whether we should reduce the percentage. maybe not.

Goldielocks

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2015, 04:52:05 PM »
I was encouraged to tithe as a student, by a middle class church whose leaders drove BMWs. I came from a poor family and used debt to gain a university education. I was encouraged to tithe even the student loans. A mild version of the prosperity gospel was preached.

I was basing the most important decisions in life on the subjective imagination of faith whilst subjecting the mundane to scrutiny, logic and reason. I thankfully realised the stupidity of this approach and stopped being both poor and stupid.

Tithing your student loans?   I guess that works if it was done mathematically accurately...  "i have taken on $40,000 of debt, or NEGATIVE $40,000 of income, my tithe is NEGATIVE $4,000... you can pay me by cash or check at your convenience"...

Tithing really should work both ways, and that is what I hate the most.   When people who tithe fully, then don't get the extra help / childcare / meals needed to get them through a downturn.

My take on tithing the modern way is to give 10% of your disposable spend to the church.   e.g.,  clothing, meals out, internet / phone costs, entertainment, anything discretionary...


Sort of like you are taking out yourself, 8 friends and JESUS's guest to dinner tonight...  LOL.

Goldielocks

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2015, 04:57:34 PM »
Another tithing observation -- a Sikh group in my area gives a lot to charity, and I realized that one of their tenents is a tithing to those in need obligation.... except they are not instructed to give it only to the church, just to give 10% overall to any charity they deem in need, from street beggars to families having a hard day, to schools and  firemen's burn unit fundraisers.  I am sure a lot goes to support the organization, but a lot goes directly to the non-profits, too.

okits

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2015, 08:30:31 PM »
In my experience, at least, the non-negotiable tithe demands that the OP be very open to cutting other parts of their budget to the bone, else they will be treading water for years to come. So basically, the OP is left with two options.

1) Be ruthless with the rest of the budget. $10 flip phones, rice and beans budget, much cheaper housing, etc.

2) Admit that FIRE is not in the cards for them, at least not on the timeline that others on here have.

Yeah, if the big non-negotiable item is truly untouchable, those are the only two options.  The math is very unforgiving.  In the end, if the person can accept that there's no magical source of extra savings without less money going out or more money coming in, then it's cool.  I just don't want to hear whining that something has to change or be sacrificed for FIRE to happen faster.

southern granny

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2015, 09:02:08 PM »
The thing I've always wondered about Tithing Mustachians is what they plan to do during early retirement. Give 10% of total investment income (whatever it may be that year)? Give 10% of annual spend? Give nothing because you have no "earned income'?
I am going to let the government decide what is income.  If the feds tax it as income, then I will pay the 10% tithe also.  I'm pretty sure they will  keep track of it for me.

CoderNate

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2015, 09:37:39 PM »
Does anyone consider taxes a form of tithing? We pay several times more in taxes each year than we spend total.

Tom Bri

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2015, 10:35:30 PM »
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.
From the practical standpoint, being a church member in good standing is a big financial boost. I got my first 'big' job because I was recommended by a church member. They hired me sight unseen, after a short phone interview. I got my current job when a church member heard I was then unemployed, and she got me hired at her company, a job I would never have known of, nor applied for if I had, since it was so far out of my normal work.
I just graduated last month. My church knows this, and there are half a dozen or more members who either are in the same field now or have retired from it, and from the same organizations I want to work for. I fully expect that the HR person who interviews me will already know all about me before he ever sees me. It like having a huge family, hundreds of older brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles, all looking out for you.
I don't tithe, and they don't care. They know I was a student with a part time job and a family to keep. Instead, I volunteered to work on the committees that every church needs but no one wants to do. It costs me a few days a month, but almost no money. When I am working full time at a much higher salary (next year...?!!) I intend to give some back to my church. Small price to pay.

ditheca

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2015, 10:50:10 PM »
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual.  If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

Re: StetsTerhune... In retirement I plan to tithe on every dollar I withdraw from investments.  I may or may not also donate another 10% via my will. My kids won't need it anyways; I'm raising them to be self-reliant.

Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

LPT: Free charity

Even if you don't tithe, here's a great idea that is helpful for some.  Besides tithing, we budget a monthly amount to contribute to other charity or humanitarian opportunities.  If I want to help a friend, homeless person, etc. I just deduct the money from what I would normally donate.  It fees awesome to be able to help those around me 'for free'.  I recently gave a bicycle to a friend so he could get to a new job, and it didn't make any different to our bottom line.

minority_finance_mo

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2015, 10:53:48 PM »
Churches and religious communities serve their purpose in society, even though there are plenty of practices one can find fault with. So much of ER comes down to motivation, and the drive to succeed. One way to get that motivation is to draw on a higher power - which many do. That 10% tithe might indeed come back to the giver 10-fold, if only due to their own resolution.

minority_finance_mo

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2015, 10:54:37 PM »
Even if you don't tithe, here's a great idea that is helpful for some.  Besides tithing, we budget a monthly amount to contribute to other charity or humanitarian opportunities.  If I want to help a friend, homeless person, etc. I just deduct the money from what I would normally donate.  It fees awesome to be able to help those around me 'for free'.  I recently gave a bicycle to a friend so he could get to a new job, and it didn't make any different to our bottom line.

This is amazing - I had never thought of local 'charity' in that way. Thanks for sharing ditheca!

Faraday

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2015, 11:00:57 PM »
I'm starting a thread for this, because I regularly encounter Case Studies in which the poster has a line item for tithing that is more often than not labeled "non-negotiable", i.e. not up for discussion.
...

I'm so glad you started this thread. I think I witnessed a lot of the Case Studies you're talking about and I saw some of your postings. I mightily resisted my own urge to facepunch, hard, in those threads because I well know how personal religion can be.

Nevertheless, I see the non-negotiability of tithing very large amounts as something kinda bizarre. The threads I'm remembering, the OP's tithes were HUGE, while they were obviously struggling to make ends meet.

What remains a mystery to me is, why they started their threads in the first place. I'm not sure what they thought we were going to tell them - were we going to come up with some kind of magical solution they couldn't themselves see? OF COURSE we were going to attack the tithe with veracity.

I grew up broke-ass poor and Baptist. We simply didn't HAVE the money to tithe so we tithed by donating time. No one ever gave us crap about it and seemed genuinely appreciative of our contribution.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2015, 11:02:34 PM by Faraday »

Sailor Sam

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2015, 11:05:47 PM »
If someone posts a tithing case study, I think it's perfectly fair to point out the math and show them how much their donation will delay their debt-free or FIRE goals. If the OP reviews the numbers, and holds firm, then I don't see much point in continuing to push against their line item.

The thing I've always wondered about Tithing Mustachians is what they plan to do during early retirement. Give 10% of total investment income (whatever it may be that year)? Give 10% of annual spend? Give nothing because you have no "earned income'?

I'm currently planning on 10% of annual spend, but I have some time to contemplate my strategy. I donate just about 7k/year, which absolutely effects my savings rate. Realistically my preference will delay FIRE by ~2 years. It's certainly something I think about, but I'm content with my choices.
   

Goldielocks

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2015, 11:15:59 PM »
At our church, we recently sold off a piece of property that had been owned for over 100 years. 

One of the not-so-geniuses at math spoke for quite a while that we were required to tithe back to the regional mission (bishop) 10% of the money gathered from the sale.  Every year.   The money would be entirely gone in 10 years.  Explains why this 79 year old is dead broke.

OMG,  at no place does it say that to tithe properly you need to sell 10% of your home property each year.  Maybe an argument could be made to give back 10% of the INCOME that the capital funds generated.

Anyway, the saner board members, demured and are holding the funds for future asset / capital maintenance, and likely ramped up the contributions to the regional district.


bacchi

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2015, 12:25:58 AM »
Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

Taxes can definitely be a source of thankfulness and joy. Every time I checkout out a book from the library, I think "Damn, this is great!" Visit a national park? That Teddy was a forward thinking guy. Drive the interstate system? I'm glad the other R did this.

patrickza

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2015, 02:25:25 AM »
I had a bad experience with a Church/cult when studying. A lot of stalking by all the members and on campus "pastors". I think it came down to the fact that they assumed you couldn't be a christian unless you brought in new members.

Anyway, that's all besides the point, but the one thing I did find odd was at their service they used to write down what was given in the collection. Apparently this was for "tax" purposes, but in my country churches don't pay tax...

Astatine

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2015, 03:53:44 AM »
Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

Taxes can definitely be a source of thankfulness and joy. Every time I checkout out a book from the library, I think "Damn, this is great!" Visit a national park? That Teddy was a forward thinking guy. Drive the interstate system? I'm glad the other R did this.

I'm very grateful and happy to have social goods paid by my taxes. I spent last night in emergency and I was feeling very happy that my taxes support the emergency ward. Taxes pay for many wonderful things. (I'm not religious and never have been)

HappierAtHome

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2015, 04:23:58 AM »
Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

Taxes can definitely be a source of thankfulness and joy. Every time I checkout out a book from the library, I think "Damn, this is great!" Visit a national park? That Teddy was a forward thinking guy. Drive the interstate system? I'm glad the other R did this.

I'm very grateful and happy to have social goods paid by my taxes. I spent last night in emergency and I was feeling very happy that my taxes support the emergency ward. Taxes pay for many wonderful things. (I'm not religious and never have been)

Taxes paid for my primary and secondary education, all my healthcare as a child, floated me the no-interest loans for my uni degree, they keep the parks and roads and buses and all the other good things running smoothly... oh, and these days taxes pay my salary.

I pay taxes very happily.

GetItRight

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2015, 04:34:26 AM »
Does anyone consider taxes a form of tithing? We pay several times more in taxes each year than we spend total.

Theft is not charity. To call it that is to call rape love making. The difference is the use of force, the gun to your head. Government rapes while churches are charity, entirely voluntary.

The religiously indoctrinated that give 10% to churches while drowning in debt are foolish, but they have been indoctrinated to believe in fairy tales and original sin... I.e. you are inherently afflicted with sin simply for existing but we have the cure , it only costs 10% for the rest of your life. Granted churches at least don't put a gun to your head like government, they're even a lot more efficient with your money, and Don't even ask for as much as the government steals. Not necessarily a bad charity if you recognize it as what it is, but some people are too dumb or brainwashed to realize you must help yourself first, then help others from a position of strength and stability. Put your own mask on first.


[MOD NOTE:  We don't, as a general rule, do rape metaphors here.  Also, taxation isn't "theft" and the government doesn't put a "gun to your head".  Let's be civil in our discussions.]
« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 06:48:45 AM by FrugalToque »

justajane

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #25 on: November 16, 2015, 05:47:08 AM »
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.

I actually don't think your church is closer to the norm. You are actually the first person I have "met" who has a similar structure to my church. We don't have monthly budget meetings, but we have a yearly budget on which we vote, and every single cent is laid out, including pastor salaries. I have grown up in the church, as well as having parents who have worked for and served in leadership capacities at numerous churches. Most budgets are very opaque and are agreed upon by the elders and not by the congregation.

Regarding tithing in retirement, I should ask my parents what they do because I think they tithed over 10% when they were working. I'm pretty certain they don't tithe on investments, because I remember my dad saying the amount they contribute now has gone down considerably.

I understand the reasoning behind the tithe and even respect it, even though I personally do not tithe. But my point of the thread was more practical for us Mustachians who read and post Case Studies. Like Faraday expressed,  many times I think those who post Case Studies with a very large tithe (sometimes that reaches or eclipses their mortgage!) are expecting us to find some magical solution that will allow them to FIRE in ten years or allow them to build their wealth significantly. And that solution doesn't exist if you tithe and don't have a very high income. You are left with the option to cut your entire budget to the bone. To FIRE with a tithe when you don't make much means you essentially have to live an austere lifestyle otherwise. And usually with these case studies I don't see a realization of this. They somehow think there is another way. But you can't get blood out of stone. 

« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 07:12:35 AM by justajane »

RetiredAt63

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2015, 06:46:29 AM »
I find it interesting that those of us who pay more taxes (Canada, Australia, various European countries) are quite cheerful about it.  Possibly because we agree with most of where the money gets spent?  While the few posts about "the gun to the head" form of taxes seems to be by an American.  Which, I have to say, totally blows my mind when I look at how low American income (and most sales) taxes are.  Try looking at some other country's tax scales and figure out how much more you would be paying.  Anyway . . .

I look at tithes as a historical relic.  Back in the day (I am thinking England during the Middle Ages) 10% went to the lord and 10% went to the church - that is where the tithe comes from.  But the church housed travelers, provided education and medical care, and supported those in need.  The local lord also provided services in return.

In Canada and Australia, etc., the state has taken over not only the job of the lord (maintains roads, provides security, etc.) but most of the roles of the church (education, medical care, welfare, etc.) And the church has dropped some of its other jobs - can I get housing in a nunnery when I travel?  Or from any other religious institution?   

From what I see as an observer, in the US the state has taken over less of the church's historical role and the local churches play more of their original role than they do elsewhere.  This means that people seem to be more willing to still give a chunk of money to the church.  Of course they also have more after-tax money to do so, since all the Canadian/Australian/etc. government services means higher taxes = lower net income, less money to give elsewhere.  And the churches need it more, since they are doing more in social services.  Personally I would rather my government did things like social support and education, since then things are more neutral (my religion is not a part of receiving assistance), but to each their own.

So in any discussion like this, we almost have to divide the discussion in 2 - Americans and tithing, everyone else and tithing.

Does anyone consider taxes a form of tithing? We pay several times more in taxes each year than we spend total.

Theft is not charity. To call it that is to call rape love making. The difference is the use of force, the gun to your head. Government rapes while churches are charity, entirely voluntary.

The religiously indoctrinated that give 10% to churches while drowning in debt are foolish, but they have been indoctrinated to believe in fairy tales and original sin... I.e. you are inherently afflicted with sin simply for existing but we have the cure , it only costs 10% for the rest of your life. Granted churches at least don't put a gun to your head like government, they're even a lot more efficient with your money, and Don't even ask for as much as the government steals. Not necessarily a bad charity if you recognize it as what it is, but some people are too dumb or brainwashed to realize you must help yourself first, then help others from a position of strength and stability. Put your own mask on first.

kite

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2015, 07:09:24 AM »
FI is a luxury.  Some are born to it, some achieve with little effort, some with great effort and some not at all.  If you believe you must tithe, but doing so means not enough room in the budget for the level of savings to enable ER then you are electing to forgo the luxury of FI or adjust your timetable. 

The "having it all" debate regarding work/life balance that women have faced for years is a variation of the same pull between priorities.  In that one, it's the needs of family life against the needs for professional and personal achievement.  It may be possible to have it "all" but not necessarily "all at once" and the person with competing demands on their (money or) time needs to account for that. 

If there's an element in budgets that I see others identify as non-negotiable,  it's alcohol and the premium price many are willing to pay for organic, artisan and fair-trade foodstuffs.  IMO, people cling to that stuff as fervently as I've ever seen anyone cling to a religious affiliation. 

Guesl982374

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2015, 07:21:37 AM »
In my experience, at least, the non-negotiable tithe demands that the OP be very open to cutting other parts of their budget to the bone, else they will be treading water for years to come. So basically, the OP is left with two options.

1) Be ruthless with the rest of the budget. $10 flip phones, rice and beans budget, much cheaper housing, etc.

2) Admit that FIRE is not in the cards for them, at least not on the timeline that others on here have.

There is a third option in my opinion, which was discussed in Sol's thread here:http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/'one-more-year'-strikes-the-rich-the-hardest/

3) Cut tithing while striving for FI and once FI is achieved, continue to work for a few more years to fund charities, including whatever church you belong to. You could use the 4% rule or rental properties to fund your chosen cause indefinitely long after you are dead.

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2015, 07:41:48 AM »
In general, I don't have a problem with people tithing. I don't like it when someone who's financially drowning won't recognize the facts in front of them. As long as they recognize it, fine. It's their deliberate choice to continue to struggle then.

Of course, I also get really annoyed by all the people who are so vocal about their faith and how great they are, then happily participate in all sorts of not-friendly activities and thoughts. In fact, I'm currently engaged in a FB debate where my sole goal is to show this self-righteous woman that she's actually being pretty mean. So far, she's clueless.

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #30 on: November 16, 2015, 07:45:30 AM »

I look at tithes as a historical relic.  Back in the day (I am thinking England during the Middle Ages) 10% went to the lord and 10% went to the church - that is where the tithe comes from.  But the church housed travelers, provided education and medical care, and supported those in need.  The local lord also provided services in return.

In Canada and Australia, etc., the state has taken over not only the job of the lord (maintains roads, provides security, etc.) but most of the roles of the church (education, medical care, welfare, etc.) And the church has dropped some of its other jobs - can I get housing in a nunnery when I travel?  Or from any other religious institution?   


Tithing goes back quite a bit further than the Middle Ages, my friend. 

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #31 on: November 16, 2015, 07:51:28 AM »
Posting to follow... and share.

The tithing discussion comes up in our household around this time each year.  DW is a devout believer & I am not.  We respect each other's views, but when the time comes to set aside money the conversation always takes a turn for the worse.  A normally civilized discourse between two reasonable people with differing views becomes an emotionally charged battle.  It's the biggest pain point in our marriage, by far.  I'm kind of dreading the process of developing our 2016 budget/ goals for this reason alone.

The only way I can really explain the mindset of a tither to someone who isn't familiar, is that the tithe is one of many disciplines a believer adheres to in order to achieve eternal "FIRE".  Or, rather, avoid eternal fire.  LOL.  The freethinking ER crowd looks at the math, figures X yrs of savings will sustain Y years of ER.  The believers think that our time on earth is just the beginning, so there's no reason in getting caught in the temptation of trying to satisfy earthly desires.  Just believing will lead to eternal salvation.  Once a believer, certain disciplines are adhered to and practiced to deepen faith... things like prayer, service, spreading the word, tithing.. none of these are officially required for salvation, but a true believer will have a burning desire to carry out these acts of faith in order to achieve deeper fulfillment and a closer relationship to God.  Regardless of whether one must work for a few years or a lifetime - the amount of time spent toiling on earth is insignificant in relation to eternity.

So, a natural tension can exist when a believer begins to strive for an earthly goal such as ER.   

Anyway, this is not meant as a blanket statement for the way all believers feel or act... just my observations.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 07:53:09 AM by BBub »

GetItRight

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #32 on: November 16, 2015, 08:26:03 AM »
Quote
[MOD NOTE:  We don't, as a general rule, do rape metaphors here.  Also, taxation isn't "theft" and the government doesn't put a "gun to your head".  Let's be civil in our discussions.]

I didn't realize this forum did censorship of facts stated concisely, nor that the official stance was a Statist one. Tax is by definition theft, just as tithe is by definition charity. The difference between charity and theft is voluntary action with mutual consent vs coercive action.  I don't see any moderators discouraging those who post pro government, pro theft comments, or vicious personal attacks instead of logical arguments or discussion... not that I would like that sort of censorship either.

Perhaps this is not a good or healthy community for me to be a part of. I'll ponder that, but regardless this group has been helpful to get me on the path to FIRE. For that I am thankful.

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2015, 08:34:03 AM »
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.
From the practical standpoint, being a church member in good standing is a big financial boost. I got my first 'big' job because I was recommended by a church member. They hired me sight unseen, after a short phone interview. I got my current job when a church member heard I was then unemployed, and she got me hired at her company, a job I would never have known of, nor applied for if I had, since it was so far out of my normal work.
I just graduated last month. My church knows this, and there are half a dozen or more members who either are in the same field now or have retired from it, and from the same organizations I want to work for. I fully expect that the HR person who interviews me will already know all about me before he ever sees me. It like having a huge family, hundreds of older brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles, all looking out for you.
I don't tithe, and they don't care. They know I was a student with a part time job and a family to keep. Instead, I volunteered to work on the committees that every church needs but no one wants to do. It costs me a few days a month, but almost no money. When I am working full time at a much higher salary (next year...?!!) I intend to give some back to my church. Small price to pay.

I also got my first real job at 18 because I was a volunteer at my church - when people see hard workers and then know of someone who needs an employee, then they refer you to them.  I never thought about the networking aspect of it, but yes, it's there and real at a church.  Volunteering works better in this regards than tithing.  Not that you should volunteer in order to get job offers, but it's a nice after-the-fact-perk.

We don't give 10%, but we do give around 8% of gross.  We make a ton of money (in my view) and we will still retire 'early' at around 45. Our money goes to support medical care and food banks for the needy, plus general church admin costs.    I'm fine with that, and we will still give when we retire, probably based on expenditures i.e, if we spend 30K, we'll give on top of that 3K for a total withdrawal of 33K.  Although when we get to FI and if we still continue to work for wages, I suspect our giving to other causes will increase during that time between FI and RE. 


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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #34 on: November 16, 2015, 08:43:58 AM »
Quote
[MOD NOTE:  We don't, as a general rule, do rape metaphors here.  Also, taxation isn't "theft" and the government doesn't put a "gun to your head".  Let's be civil in our discussions.]

I didn't realize this forum did censorship of facts stated concisely, nor that the official stance was a Statist one. Tax is by definition theft, just as tithe is by definition charity. The difference between charity and theft is voluntary action with mutual consent vs coercive action.  I don't see any moderators discouraging those who post pro government, pro theft comments, or vicious personal attacks instead of logical arguments or discussion... not that I would like that sort of censorship either.

Perhaps this is not a good or healthy community for me to be a part of. I'll ponder that, but regardless this group has been helpful to get me on the path to FIRE. For that I am thankful.

I appreciate the MOD NOTE in this thread. It's easy to find yourself in states of mind where you use inappropriate metaphors. I've been smacked around for calling people "loser". I pondered what I wrote and I agree with the gentle Mod persuasion here.

GetItRight, don't take this personally, and pleaseGodplease don't take the mod comments as some kind of opposing political view. If you CAN get over it, DO get over it and keep participating.

But if you CAN'T get over it, you need to realize that this is one of the more permissive forums on the internet. If you can't deal with the very few rules here, yeah, you should ditch us all and leave us in your dust.


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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #35 on: November 16, 2015, 08:48:33 AM »
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual. If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

Re: StetsTerhune... In retirement I plan to tithe on every dollar I withdraw from investments.  I may or may not also donate another 10% via my will. My kids won't need it anyways; I'm raising them to be self-reliant.

Re: CoderNate... No, Taxes are not a form of tithing.  Tithing should be done with thankfulness and joy, or not at all.  God doesn't take 10% of my paycheck, I offer it to Him thankfully because my family benefits from living His gospel.

LPT: Free charity

Even if you don't tithe, here's a great idea that is helpful for some.  Besides tithing, we budget a monthly amount to contribute to other charity or humanitarian opportunities.  If I want to help a friend, homeless person, etc. I just deduct the money from what I would normally donate.  It fees awesome to be able to help those around me 'for free'.  I recently gave a bicycle to a friend so he could get to a new job, and it didn't make any different to our bottom line.

Isn't the whole essence of mustachianism to question the norm, though? Challenge all expenditures and find better / more efficient alternatives?

I find it interesting that those of us who pay more taxes (Canada, Australia, various European countries) are quite cheerful about it.  Possibly because we agree with most of where the money gets spent?  While the few posts about "the gun to the head" form of taxes seems to be by an American.  Which, I have to say, totally blows my mind when I look at how low American income (and most sales) taxes are.  Try looking at some other country's tax scales and figure out how much more you would be paying.  Anyway . . .

I look at tithes as a historical relic.  Back in the day (I am thinking England during the Middle Ages) 10% went to the lord and 10% went to the church - that is where the tithe comes from.  But the church housed travelers, provided education and medical care, and supported those in need.  The local lord also provided services in return.

In Canada and Australia, etc., the state has taken over not only the job of the lord (maintains roads, provides security, etc.) but most of the roles of the church (education, medical care, welfare, etc.) And the church has dropped some of its other jobs - can I get housing in a nunnery when I travel?  Or from any other religious institution?   

From what I see as an observer, in the US the state has taken over less of the church's historical role and the local churches play more of their original role than they do elsewhere.  This means that people seem to be more willing to still give a chunk of money to the church.  Of course they also have more after-tax money to do so, since all the Canadian/Australian/etc. government services means higher taxes = lower net income, less money to give elsewhere.  And the churches need it more, since they are doing more in social services.  Personally I would rather my government did things like social support and education, since then things are more neutral (my religion is not a part of receiving assistance), but to each their own.

So in any discussion like this, we almost have to divide the discussion in 2 - Americans and tithing, everyone else and tithing.

Does anyone consider taxes a form of tithing? We pay several times more in taxes each year than we spend total.

Theft is not charity. To call it that is to call rape love making. The difference is the use of force, the gun to your head. Government rapes while churches are charity, entirely voluntary.

The religiously indoctrinated that give 10% to churches while drowning in debt are foolish, but they have been indoctrinated to believe in fairy tales and original sin... I.e. you are inherently afflicted with sin simply for existing but we have the cure , it only costs 10% for the rest of your life. Granted churches at least don't put a gun to your head like government, they're even a lot more efficient with your money, and Don't even ask for as much as the government steals. Not necessarily a bad charity if you recognize it as what it is, but some people are too dumb or brainwashed to realize you must help yourself first, then help others from a position of strength and stability. Put your own mask on first.

I also wonder if, in most cases, you see more direct benefit from the level of taxation you have (i.e. superior public transportation, health care, education, etc). Work/life balance also seems to be much better in some other countries, so that may also add to the frustration of paying more taxes (when you are working so much you don't have time for much else, perhaps it's more frustrating to watch money disappear).

I did find this article, which indicates that for a single person earning less than $82k/yr and not owning a home, they will likely pay less tax in Canada than in the US. This is also not factoring in the costs of health care in the US (which is absurd). The US is also very high on the "college costs" list.

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #36 on: November 16, 2015, 08:55:31 AM »
I'm all about donating time/$ to good causes.

I don't think many tither's really understand where their money actually ends up being spent.

It is also alarming when someone posts a case study and tithing makes up 40% of their spending, while they have debt, families to support, etc.

I just stay out of these threads since my blood pressure doesn't need any artificial raising !

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #37 on: November 16, 2015, 09:02:11 AM »
Quote
[MOD NOTE:  We don't, as a general rule, do rape metaphors here.  Also, taxation isn't "theft" and the government doesn't put a "gun to your head".  Let's be civil in our discussions.]

I didn't realize this forum did censorship of facts stated concisely, nor that the official stance was a Statist one. Tax is by definition theft, just as tithe is by definition charity. The difference between charity and theft is voluntary action with mutual consent vs coercive action.  I don't see any moderators discouraging those who post pro government, pro theft comments, or vicious personal attacks instead of logical arguments or discussion... not that I would like that sort of censorship either.

Perhaps this is not a good or healthy community for me to be a part of. I'll ponder that, but regardless this group has been helpful to get me on the path to FIRE. For that I am thankful.

Mod Note: Nothing was censored.  Did anything you posted get deleted, or is it still all there for anyone to read?

The rape metaphor crossed a line, and is specifically mentioned as discourse not allowed in the forum rules.

PM a mod if you have questions or comments about mod editing to engage in a discussion/dialogue, rather than continuing to drag this thread off topic.

Feel free to start a new discussion Off Topic if you would like to discuss if tax==theft or not, but likening it to actual rape is not okay.

Cheers!
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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #38 on: November 16, 2015, 09:10:40 AM »
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual. If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

This comment seems bizarre to me. Sure, this is a decent, popular definition of "money management", but we here on the forums go far, far beyond that.

It is specifically the purpose of a case study to expose your spending to the MMM membership and open it to questioning. I am completely unconcerned with supporting anyone else's "happiness" or "wants vs needs". When someone posts something in a case study, they are SPECIFICALLY asking us to question it. We in the community expect them to agree and get rid of it.

Our purpose here is the badass race to FIRE. All things get scrutinized and freeing up cash flow is the highest priority here.  I do not, and will never, accept cable TV as being "essential to anyone's happiness".

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #39 on: November 16, 2015, 09:24:02 AM »
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual. If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

This comment seems bizarre to me. Sure, this is a decent, popular definition of "money management", but we here on the forums go far, far beyond that.

It is specifically the purpose of a case study to expose your spending to the MMM membership and open it to questioning. I am completely unconcerned with supporting anyone else's "happiness" or "wants vs needs". When someone posts something in a case study, they are SPECIFICALLY asking us to question it. We in the community expect them to agree and get rid of it.

Our purpose here is the badass race to FIRE. All things get scrutinized and freeing up cash flow is the highest priority here.  I do not, and will never, accept cable TV as being "essential to anyone's happiness".

I disagree.  We may try to convince them otherwise, but if something truly has been reflected on and decided as valuable, then so be it.  It's their life to live, and we don't need to continue to face punch.

Mustachianism is about value.  It may not being value for most (say $5 coffees, or cable TV, or whatever), but for any one individual it might, and purposeful spending is the point, not cutting out every single thing.
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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #40 on: November 16, 2015, 09:33:37 AM »
I'm from the tithing in non-negotiable school.  I like rockstache's perspective with the dogs; money management is all about identifying wants vs needs and prioritizing the things that make the most sense to the individual. If cable TV is non-negotiable for someone, who are we to question that.  Just help others as best you can within the limits they allow.  With your help, they'll be in a better position to realize that maybe cable isn't really that important.  On the other hand, maybe you'll eventually comprehend why it really is essential to their happiness.

This comment seems bizarre to me. Sure, this is a decent, popular definition of "money management", but we here on the forums go far, far beyond that.

It is specifically the purpose of a case study to expose your spending to the MMM membership and open it to questioning. I am completely unconcerned with supporting anyone else's "happiness" or "wants vs needs". When someone posts something in a case study, they are SPECIFICALLY asking us to question it. We in the community expect them to agree and get rid of it.

Our purpose here is the badass race to FIRE. All things get scrutinized and freeing up cash flow is the highest priority here.  I do not, and will never, accept cable TV as being "essential to anyone's happiness".

I disagree.  We may try to convince them otherwise, but if something truly has been reflected on and decided as valuable, then so be it.  It's their life to live, and we don't need to continue to face punch.

Mustachianism is about value.  It may not being value for most (say $5 coffees, or cable TV, or whatever), but for any one individual it might, and purposeful spending is the point, not cutting out every single thing.

It's a fair cop, ARS. I may be expecting The Proletariat to back me on this. More accurately:

I expect them to agree and get rid of it. That's why I don't comment in case studies any more. I believe everything must be open to question, always. Otherwise, you're not being truly open minded.

CommonCents

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #41 on: November 16, 2015, 09:39:49 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. 

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #42 on: November 16, 2015, 09:59:38 AM »
@CommonCents

I agree that many people have non-negotiables in their budgets and that tithing is not the only one. Someone upthread brought up organic food, which is a great example. But if you are posting a case study, particularly a new poster, who just came to the forums or has been a lurker for a while, they usually go to the trouble to post their case study in large part because a new world has opened to them and they want to live differently and save more. But I have just encountered at least a dozen of these cases in which the tithe is going to lead them to go nowhere fast, unless they are willing to live a very, very austere lifestyle. I just don't think this has sunk in yet, and I'm wondering what the point of the case study is to begin with.

You have mentioned your own non-negotiables being more than the traditional 10% tithe. That's perfectly fine, but I'm also guessing that you haven't posting a case study asking for suggestions on how to optimize your budget, in large part because you already know what you would need to do to increase your savings rate even more. But you've decided that you value your fancy home and community more.

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.

Perhaps like someone else mentioned above, I should just exit case studies with non-negotiables and go on my merry way. But it's just hard when someone is in debt or treading water -- to the detriment of their family and overall mental health -- and to see right in front of them the best way to fix the problem.

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #43 on: November 16, 2015, 10:16:05 AM »
So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.

I think I just realized something: there are some folks here on the forums who answer the case study with the time-weighted value of the expense over 10 years. So instead of asking someone to question the expense, they "amortize" it out over 10 years at some-percentage-yield and show what the poster is losing in stashe value.

Maybe these people with the non-negotiables don't realize that's what we're asking them to do?

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #44 on: November 16, 2015, 10:25:47 AM »
In the cases where tithe is non-negotiable  and they are drowning, then there's always increasing income through side gigs or job moves.  The case studies still benefit from other views even if they won't cut a line item. 

For us, especially since we are single income now and will be double income in the future, it's just not a big deal.  It really doesn't move our timeline that much even though it's about 15% of our spending.

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #45 on: November 16, 2015, 10:34:10 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.

+1, very reasonable.

With regard to taxes, America was born in large part because of an ongoing dispute about taxes (we brewed some Earl Grey in Boston Harbor once...). Aversion to taxes is written into our DNA and has been since inception. In concept, I don't mind paying taxes because I enjoy driving on roads and taking public transit from time to time - some of the things we spend tax money on, however, really piss me off because they just seem wasteful. I'll leave it at that.

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. If done at the local community level where everyone knows everyone else, I would imagine there might be more flexibility for considering alternate arrangements like donating time or materials. If we assume that our mission is to align spending with our values, I'd be hesitant to push too hard challenging someone about their choice to tithe, but I would advocate donating time or some "alternate currency" instead of dollars if that was an option.

hops

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #46 on: November 16, 2015, 10:36:54 AM »
I am on the board of my church. We discuss the spending at every monthly meeting, and the books are open to every member. The yearly budget is voted on by the whole membership, after open discussion. I know some churches are little better than scams, but I suspect my church is closer to the norm.

My partner's church functions similarly. I'm the product of an interfaith marriage and was raised without religion, but "prosperity gospel" stuff runs rampant around here and I know many families who struggle while giving everything they can to the church. In one extreme case, a large family became homeless but continued to prioritize tithing over saving because of their belief that God would provide.

When I started dating my now-fiancee, whose church is very important to her, I was almost afraid to ask how much she tithed because a non-negotiable 10% would've been a deal-breaker for me if we became serious enough to combine finances. (She has a debt emergency: over $200,000 in high-interest student loans.) Learning that her church is transparent about its spending and never shakes people down for more than they feel comfortable giving was a relief.

For any non-religious Mustachian newly dating someone devout, that conversation, uncomfortable as it is, should be an early one. Fortunately, we were able to agree that tithing was not a financial priority in the face of such enormous debt, and instead we donate our time. (Joining the church is not in the cards for me, but I'm happy to donate time to its school supply drives and food pantry.)

Shane

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #47 on: November 16, 2015, 10:37:47 AM »
The tradition of tithing is mystifying to me. I don't get why anyone would want to give money to a conventional church. If you want to help people in need, why not do it directly? How about letting some worthy person who is out of work move into an unused extra bedroom in your house rent free for awhile until she can get pack on her feet? How about giving extra food or money to a family you know who is struggling financially? Why not cut out the middle man and give directly to people who need it?

My grandparents religiously gave an envelope full of money to their suburban Catholic church every Sunday for 60+ years. Other than to pay for maintenance on the building and grounds and to keep the lights on in the church, it seemed pretty unclear to me where the money was actually going, and my grandparents didn't seem to know or care either. Apparently, a lot of the money gets siphoned off to higher levels of the church bureaucracy to pay for bishops and cardinals and their ilk to live pretty lavish lives on the backs of people who are living pretty modestly, some who are just scraping by. When my grandfather was lying in the hospital dying at 90+ years old he was really bitter that no one from his church, including none of the priests, came to see him in the hospital...

Can't people who want to tithe to their churches just donate in-kind services instead? This would free up cash that could be invested to pay off their debts and speed up FIRE. OP, if you want to persuade case-study subjects to redirect money they are tithing towards paying down debt and investing to speed up FIRE, maybe you could convince them by arguing that the sooner they FIRE, the sooner they can begin volunteering more time to help their churches if that's what makes them happy...

If tithing truly is "non-negotiable" for some people, maybe you should just accept that. It's just like people who like driving fancy cars, taking expensive vacations or drinking lattes every day at Starbucks. It's their choice, and if that's what makes them happy, then they'll have to work a few extra years to pay for it. As I read here on the MMM Forum recently, "You should never work harder to help someone than he is willing to work to help himself."

CommonCents

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #48 on: November 16, 2015, 10:43:54 AM »
@CommonCents

I agree that many people have non-negotiables in their budgets and that tithing is not the only one. Someone upthread brought up organic food, which is a great example. But if you are posting a case study, particularly a new poster, who just came to the forums or has been a lurker for a while, they usually go to the trouble to post their case study in large part because a new world has opened to them and they want to live differently and save more. But I have just encountered at least a dozen of these cases in which the tithe is going to lead them to go nowhere fast, unless they are willing to live a very, very austere lifestyle. I just don't think this has sunk in yet, and I'm wondering what the point of the case study is to begin with.

You have mentioned your own non-negotiables being more than the traditional 10% tithe. That's perfectly fine, but I'm also guessing that you haven't posting a case study asking for suggestions on how to optimize your budget, in large part because you already know what you would need to do to increase your savings rate even more. But you've decided that you value your fancy home and community more.

So, in essence, it's not the tithe I guess that is bothering me, although it can tend to make up for a much larger chunk of a person's budget than pets or cable or whatever, but it's the non-negotiable aspect of a large line-item in someone's budget that really makes it very difficult for any of us to help someone.

Perhaps like someone else mentioned above, I should just exit case studies with non-negotiables and go on my merry way. But it's just hard when someone is in debt or treading water -- to the detriment of their family and overall mental health -- and to see right in front of them the best way to fix the problem.

Very true.  :)  I am well aware we could downsize our 2400 sq foot house on a pond, back to the 1000 sq foot condo we had two years ago.  We could even buy a 2 bedroom rather than the 1 bed my husband bought when a bachelor, with an outdoor deck, and still have money left over to funnel to our retirement accounts.  Anything else we choose to do, from taking cheaper vacations or cooking cheaper cuts of food at home, is peanuts compared to that.  (Although is does add up, which is why we've implemented other ideas from here such as cutting cable.)  This is part of the reason why I have never posted a case study.  For the most part, I am satisfied with our current optimization.

I have a hard time with it too, but I think you really do need to just learn to walk away sometimes and stop investing emotional energy when it's not returned.  Point out that you can help them save the pennies, but unless you find more dollars (more income, or cutting the big budget busters), it won't stem the tide.  And then don't waste your time trying banging your head against the wall.  Wait, and hopefully, you'll lead a horse or two to water.  I know I'm more inclined to post more ideas when people are more amenable to make changes.

Jack

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Re: The Non-negotiable Tithe
« Reply #49 on: November 16, 2015, 11:07:30 AM »
It's a fair cop, ARS. I may be expecting The Proletariat to back me on this. More accurately:

I expect them to agree and get rid of it. That's why I don't comment in case studies any more. I believe everything must be open to question, always. Otherwise, you're not being truly open minded.

What proletariat? We're all bourgeois (or at least wannabe bourgeois) here...

Ironically, that's part of why cable TV is objectionable: it is itself for the proles -- just half of the modern bread and circuses, along with HFCS.

(Note: that came out a lot more elitist than it really was. In reality, mustachianism is a counterexample to Marxist theory, or at least an exception to it.)