by Francine L. Huff
Keep living generously despite the economy.
Like many Americans, you may be feeling bruised by the nation’s economic problems and may be less inclined to stick with a giving plan. It can be tough to think about writing a check toward charitable causes when you’re struggling to pay monthly bills and put food on the table. But regardless of your situation, here are some tips that can help jump-start your giving plan.
Work With Your Existing Income
Being a good financial steward means wisely managing what God has given you. Whether you earn $30,000 or $100,000, it’s important to make good decisions about how to use those funds. The biblical definition of a tithe is giving 10 percent of earnings back to God through the church. If your giving doesn’t align with God’s command, start here. Malachi 3:10 even encourages you to test God with this to see Him provide in your obedience. If you still earn an income, you can and should be obedient by tithing. But, beyond tithing, how can you honor God by living generously?
- Be honest. Why isn’t your giving plan where you want it to be? Is it because you suffered a drop in income or experienced a significant change in circumstances such as a major illness, birth of another child, or divorce?
- Get your priorities in order. How much money do you spend on eating out, overpriced coffee drinks, and impulse purchases each week? According to an Accounting Principal Workonomix Survey released in 2012, the average worker spends an average of $2,000 on lunches and $1,092 on coffee each year. Even if you’re a faithful brown-bagger and brew your own coffee at home, it’s likely that there’s some area of impulse spending you can eliminate. Look for the little things you spend money on that add up to big bucks — like that afternoon trip to the vending machine.
- Give up costly bad habits. If you’ve been trying to give up a bad habit such as smoking, think about the health benefits and money you’ll save as an incentive to kick the habit. Maybe you’re prone to online shopping and can’t keep track of what you’re spending on all of those “bargains.” Decide which habits you’re ready to beat and make a choice to put that money toward a giving plan. If necessary, get help from a pastor, counselor, or support group to break free of addictive behaviors that may be ruining your health and your finances.
- Be consistent. It’s important to decide what percentage of income you’re going to give and set a regular timetable for doing it. For many people, it’s convenient to write a check each time they get paid. Others have automatic deductions from their paycheck go into a savings account designated specifically for tithing and other charitable giving. Establish a system that works for you, and commit to sticking with it.
Being a good financial steward means wisely managing what God has given you.
Finally, it’s important to remember that giving can also include your time. Even if you’ve been laid off from a job and have no income to give, you can still choose to volunteer at your church or in your community and help those in need. Though churches and other organizations need funds to keep operating, they also need people who are willing to show up and help out when needed. •
Francine L. Huff, a former news editor and bureau chief with The Wall Street Journal, is the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women (Revell). To learn more, visit huffwrites.com.
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of HomeLife. Subscribe!