Ultimate Budget Series: Part 2 – Tithing

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Ultimate Budget Series Part 2 TithingWelcome back to the Ultimate Budget Series. If you haven’t have a chance to check out the rest of the series, here’s what we’ve got so far:

  1. Introduction
  2. Income

Today we’re going to talk about one of the most debated and awesome line items in the budget: Tithing! Now, I know this is a hot topic for some, and for others it doesn’t even matter. But the aim of this series is to go through the most common budget items in detail, and tithing is definitely one of them. And as a tithing Christian myself, I have some experience in this area, and would like to break it down so that we are all extremely clear on what tithing is, what it isn’t, why it happens, and how to rock this line item in the budget. So let’s get to it!

Quick disclaimer: For those of you who are not Christians, thanks for reading this post. I don’t want to alienate anyone here, but just wanted to explain the idea of Christian tithing and how it fits into the monthly budget. I appreciate you stopping by 🙂

Category Description

The word “Tithe” literally means “one-tenth”, and in most modern cases is in reference to giving one-tenth of your income to your local church. Christians specifically use this term a lot to describe their giving to their local church, though they might not be giving 1/10th of their income. This money is used to support the church ministry, including employment of the pastor and other church staff.

How Much You Should Budget?

This is the fun one. There are two answers to this question. The obvious, simple one, and the much more complicated one. So let’s start with the easy one.

  1. You can give 10% of your gross income. Why gross income, well, because your local church should get your money before the government 😉 And that’s it.
  2. You can give what you feel led to give. Told you this one would be more complicated. This one stems from the change in religious practices when Jesus came into the picture. He wasn’t concerned with whether people were following the “law” per se, but with their hearts. If they gave but their hearts weren’t in it, that wasn’t good, so he called out the religious folk in Matthew 23:23. Following that, Christians are called to follow what the book of 2nd Corinthians calls being a “cheerful giver”. So no specific rules on amounts, but clear direction on your attitude. Those of us who are Christians are called to give to the local church to support the ministry, but the amount and timing is up to you and your conscience. This is the route we follow, and sometimes it’s 10%, sometimes it’s different.

Common Ways People Blow This Category

The excuse of “we can’t afford it”. Tithing is seen as the last thing in the budget, and the first to disappear when unexpected expenses come up. I think the most common way that this category is blown is by not writing it into the budget for every time you get paid. If you don’t do it right away, this money could get absorbed into other daily spending, and not be there when you go to write the check.

Best Ways To Rock This Category

As Christians, we are called to give, though the amount does not matter as much as your attitude. Once you put together your monthly budget, you should have a good idea of what your necessities are, and can set your tithing amount based on your personal convictions. Pray about it, write down a number, and stick to it. Heck, you can even set up an automatic payments at many churches these days, so the day after you get paid, the tithe goes out.

Whatever Else I Feel Like Writing

Tithing is commonplace in many households, and for those that do tithe, or want to, I hope you can work it into your budget as one of the most important items, not one of the least. If we see ourselves as stewards of God’s money, then we should have no problem giving back to the ministry of the church. For those who don’t have the means or barely make enough to get by, then your convictions may lead you to stop tithing until you can sort out your finances and get back on your feet. That’s totally fine as well. Remember, God cares about your heart more than your wallet, but many times your heart is reflected in how you use your wallet.

Comments: Do you tithe to your local church? How is it going? Do you stay strict on the 10% rule? I’d love to hear your take on tithing 🙂

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

20 thoughts on “Ultimate Budget Series: Part 2 – Tithing”

  1. I don’t personally tithe, but your point about making it a priority is a great one. Our budgets are limited and therefore we need to prioritize. If something is important to you, as tithing clearly is for you, then you need to make it happen before the rest of your expenses have a chance to affect it. This is the same way I approach saving and investing. That money leaves almost as soon as it hits my account so that it happens no matter what. Such a crucial part of budgeting.

    • It’s funny that people can spout off a list of priorities, but if you follow their money, their priorities are not really what they say they are. And yes, same principal should apply for saving/investing. I think the “out of sight, out of mind” rule for saving is a great starting point.

  2. Great post, Jacob. We pray fervently and give as the Lord leads us to. In our current situation (getting out of HUGE debt), the Lord has given us a specific amount to give each month while we’re on this getting out of debt journey. I think often times too, regarding why some Christians don’t tithe, people aren’t aware of how gratifying it is to give back. It trumps any amount of money you could have when you are a cheerful giver.

  3. The way that I understand NT giving is that it is above and beyond the tithe. If you compare to the 10 commandments, Jesus extended the understanding of each of them i.e. adultery means even lust. If you go route #2 – which I agree is what is taught in the NT – it should be above 10%. 🙂

    So we consider 10% to be a baseline. We give that plus a bit more to our church, we recently added support of a missionary, and we set aside a bit of money every month for random charitable things that come up. For instance, we have been making and serving dinner at a local homeless shelter once every couple months, so we use money from that account to pay for the food we bring.

    I’m so excited to be generous with our money, especially since it is so precious to us with our low income right now. I could easily make money into an idol in my life (PF blogger much?) and tithing and giving protects against that. Plus we truly believe our church is efficacious in its mission to spread the Gospel and we love being part of it bodily and financially.

    • I don’t ascribe a percentage, because the New Testament (and new Law) does not. I think D.A. Carson said it best in THIS article. But 10% is a great baseline if it is cheerful and sacrificial giving (2 Corin 8-9).

      And I love that you pointed out the tithing can fight against the idol of money, that is for sure. It’s really a heart thing, and like I said, “your heart is reflected in how you use your wallet.”

  4. We give a little to our local church each Sunday, but we also participate in other events, like donating old household items and such. So while the money may not be 10%, lot of other things we give make up for it in my eyes.

    • The point is definitely not the 10%, but the heart of generosity and giving. It’s a great thing to give, especially to a local ministry you support and to those in need. 🙂

  5. My mom and I have a goal of being ‘cheerful givers’ and do not follow any specific percentage of income. Sometimes I put more or less in my giving envelope usually depending on my earnings that particular time. When I divide up my money in my envelopes I always start with giving because I do believe that it should come before anything else.

    • I do follow a percentage that has worked well for us, but it’s not inflexible. Giving cheerfully sometimes is a challenge because it’s easy to just check it off the list. But knowing what I am giving to and what I have been blessed with helps keep things in perspective.

  6. Last summer, my wife and I started to volunteer our time for a organization that feeds the homeless. Volunteering is much more beneficial than a check and it does not even impact your budget.

    • Volunteering time is amazingly valuable, and a great way to give! There are many who would cut a check, but not give up an hour of their time.

  7. For me, ESPECIALLY as our income has gone up, sticking with tithing and now going beyond the 10% has been such a blessing to me. It helps me to see that it all belongs to the Lord anyway, and every good thing comes from Him.

    For me, it helps money be less important — I do not want money to become an idol, and cheerfully giving it to my church, sponsoring children, and other charitable things as they pop up is definitely more important than anything I might otherwise purchase.

    • When you see yourself as the financial manager of God’s money, it really does change how you treat money. And like you said, it help money become less important, and more rewarding.

  8. Loved this article. Our household tithe. We are strict to the 10% and all of our other expenses are based on what’s left. This works for us. But, we’ve also the same understanding about the heart matter between individuals and God. We’ve realized we shouldn’t questions another’s stance.


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