Monday, February 12, 2007

Charity of the Month: February, if it hasn't slipped your notice I haven't written about our financial resolution. You may be gracious and think this is an oversight. But, no. It is far from it. This is always our toughest.

Charitable giving has always been a very important part of our family finances. I'm rereading the book, Worry Free Family Finances by Bill Staton. I highly recommend this book. Though it could have been a much shorter (he uses lots and lots of people's stories to illustrate his points) the simplicity of this book makes it genius. It is based on three principles: Save More, Give More, Invest Wisely. Now, we haven't done the invest wisely part yet (we contribute to our retirement and college savings plans at this point) I have found the first two parts of his plan invaluable. I have read many personal finance books, and most actually tell you to cut back on your charitable giving. Since, that goes against everything we hold dear, their plans don't work for us. But, this one makes giving a priority.

Now, sure he presents it in a way that would make most Gospel of Prosperity preachers very proud. I have to confess to being very put off by the idea that I should give to the church so that God will reward me with more money. or as Staton (this book is secular) puts it, but not nearly as strongly, what goes around comes around. Both ideas are basically using greed as an incentive to give. This bothers me quite a bit. (Along with what I call "The Birthday Party" theology, that I should be nice to Jesus and do what he wants so I can get into heaven and stay out of hell. Sounds like what junior high girls do to get invited to the popular girl's birthday party.)

Anyway...I think there is something to be said for this concept, just not it's application. I have personally seen our money grow and our belts loosen a bit when we are purposefully giving. There is no doubt. Is it divine or cosmic? I don't think so. I think it's two part. 1.) When we aren't grasping our money so tightly and can open our hands to give, it also allows us to receive with that same open hand. and 2.) When we are purposeful with our money, we are more in control of our spending. And this is exactly why giving is an essential component to our Christ directed lives. God knows what is best for us. He knows how to best live our lives in health and well-being. When we follow his plans, our lives run much more smoothly and the stress level in infinitely lower.

But, like all his plans, this one is still a toughie for us. We have to stay constanly vigilant about our money. Whoever said that a habit is formed in 90 days, is full of Horse Hockey. We fall apart at about 6 months when we think we have the hang of it. When we let our guard down. We are still finding our leaks and plugging them, I'll post more about that when we get it squared away. But, I was doing our taxes and noticed the huge difference in our charitable giving from 2005 vs. 2006. 2006 was disatrous. It was shameful. So, now we are recommitted.

Chowder and I follow the Catholic tradition of tithing which is based on the Old Testament 10% that is generally followed. Where it differs from some is that you give 5% to your parish and 5% to another outside charity. Because our family has two churches that it supports, we divide our giving in fourths. We give 1/4 to Chowder's church, 1/4 to my parish, 1/4 to a local charity, and 1/4 to a global or national charity. So, if our tithing amount equaled $400 a month, than we would give $100 to each every month. This year, we have decided to leave only the last fourth as a monthly choice. Our local charity is going to be fixed as our local food pantry that serves our neighborhood.

Our rotating national or global charity is a family decision. I'll post each month's selection on my sidebar so you can have a look at it. Our picks generally follow where are family is in that month. So, this month's is a charity that provides assistance animals. We were drawn to Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans because of its new program providing dogs to combat veterans. We research all of our charities and make sure they are legit and that their practices fit with our beliefs and values. We are always open to new ones, so if you have a favorite, post it in the comments or email me about it.


jenni said...

We do the same thing with our tithe. Our focus right now is in the orphan arena, and our favorites are


Cakes said...

oh! Thanks! I'll have to check those out

shaz said...

"I have personally seen our money grow and our belts loosen a bit when we are purposefully giving"

in Islam, it is made clear that when you give, you get back even more. i see it happen all the time. you know, i like your plan, i have made a similar kind of plan with my own income... half of every cheque to the household budget, and of the other half, 1/3 to charity, 1/3 for future projects, 1/3 for myself. Sees ok so far, except I might start calculating it monthly instead of per cheque.

julie said...

Wow, you inspired me to get our finances organized. It is great to write it all out like that. We also tithe to our church, something we also encourage our children to do with their allowance.