When you read about Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, the one thing you won’t often read is that Dave encourages people to give while they pay off debt. This can be a hard thing to accept when it goes against our common sense. If we want to pay off debt, we shouldn’t give money away. I get it. While there are a thousand different reasons as to why someone might tithe while paying off debt, our family’s reasons are probably different than you think. Our reason for tithing had less to do with the church and more to do with what we needed. So, if you are in full-on debt payoff mode, read on to see why we started tithing during debt payoff and what happened when we did.
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Our debt payoff plan
In order to pay off our debt, we closely followed Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball method. Check out how we paid off our debt a little faster and snag our free Debt Snowball printout.
If you haven’t heard of the Debt Snowball before, let me give you a quick rundown of how it all works.
The Debt Snowball summary:
- Find an extra $200 in your budget. Join our Fast Cash Savings Challenge to get some ideas!
- Apply this $200 to your smallest debt (on top of your current minimum payment).
- Ex. If minimum payment was $30 add $200 for a total of $230
- Continue making minimum payments on all other debts.
- Once your smallest debt is paid off, apply the $200 (plus previous minimum payment) to your next smallest debt.
- If the minimum payment on your next smallest debt is $50 add your original $230 + $50 = $280 per month
This was the debt payoff method we stuck to except we always paid more than $200.
We have found ways to earn extra cash and rework our budget so we could put as much money as possible toward our debt payoff.
So, what is tithing?
Tithing is something that is most commonly talked about in the Bible. Because tithing is a Biblical belief, most people tend to be instantly turned off by the idea or instantly feel obligated to start.
How much is a tithe?
What tithing means is, “tenth.” Therefore, if you were to begin tithing, you would be giving a tenth of your income away. Ex: if you make $3,000 per month, a tenth would be $300.
While 10% may not sound like a lot, looking at it in real numbers can be very overwhelming for most people. Especially if you are already struggling financially. It’s human nature to feel the need to hold onto your money.
Why we started tithing.
I won’t lie, we are churchgoers. After a lot of searching, we have found a church that fits our family’s needs, and that truly speaks to our hearts. If you happen to be looking for a church, feel free to check out the online services! — You can also listen via podcast.
Finding a church that truly speaks to us and is welcome and accommodating to our family made it much easier to want to begin tithing, for sure. However, we had a lot deeper of reasoning than that.
Church, tithing and guilt trips
We have attended churches before that spoke very heavily on tithing. So much so that it began to feel like a guilt trip.
Hearing someone say things like, “You have to give 10% of your income. And that’s BEFORE taxes!” or going as far to say things like, “If you’re already tithing, we want you to give beyond this!!” are the reasons that so many people tend to turn away from the church. It begins to feel like they are only after your money.
The first time we attended our new church they never passed around an offering bucket. They didn’t want people to feel ashamed if they couldn’t give or obligated to give because everyone else was. Instantly, I loved this concept. It definitely felt much more aligned with how Jesus would handle tithing.
The benefits of tithing outside of the church
Instead of making us feel like they were demanding our money, our church helped us to expand our minds when it came to tithing.
We were encouraged us to practice tithing for ourselves rather than for our church’s benefit. They wanted us to truly see the impact that selfless giving can have on a person’s life and heart.
In fact, each year they hold a tithing challenge and encourage you to give to other churches if you’d like. They believe in its benefits that much.
Finally feeling like we weren’t being pestered to give allowed us to open our hearts to the idea of joyful giving.
Loosening our hold on money
For us personally, we had let money control our lives for far too long.
When I met Tom he was bankrupt and foreclosing on his house and I had spent my $5,000 inheritance from my dad’s life insurance on things like Hollister and Abercrombie. Money was never something either of us held onto for very long.
Over the next 7 years, we spent digging ourselves into deeper debt. We bought whatever we wanted. Whenever we wanted to go out we would and then we would complain that we didn’t have any money.
It was a vicious cycle.
So what if giving more with an open heart would actually help us finally loosen the grip that money had on us for so long?
Tithing creates an abundant mindset
When it came to our finances, rather than a scarcity mindset, we decided to change our thoughts to an abundant mindset. These mindset shifts have been one of the biggest factors in allowing us to live more full lives.
If you feel like you need help learning how to simplify your mindset, and enhance your life, join my Love Living with Less email series that helps you shift your mind-blocks and open your heart in a big way.
Tithing with debt
After changing our mindset around giving, we finally started tithing during our last year of debt payoff. And it was scary.
Tithing had been something we had previously tried and failed at before.
When I say we failed, I believe tithing originally failed for us before because we tithed out of fear or obligation. The Bible encourages giving with a happy heart and we had always tithed because we felt like we had to. When we felt like we had to It made us nervous. So no matter what, if and when you consider giving, my biggest recommendation is to find a number that brings you joy.
Giving with a joyful heart
This time, we were ready to tithe. It felt good in our hearts. There was joy in giving, therefore, we felt prepared.
Instead of seeing lack in our lives, like we previously had, we began to pay attention to the abundance we had in our lives. When you focus on the abundance in your life and all of the gifts you already have, it makes giving with an open heart so much easier.
When there are so many things to be thankful for in our lives, why not give some of that greatness away?
Understanding true greed
The last thing I had ever wanted to be was greedy. I never want to be the kind of person that clings to money. Which is probably why I was so quick to spend it on impulse purchases before. I grew up with the belief that money was bad. That greedy people had a lot of money.
In reality, still spending all of my money on myself, on shallow, unimportant things, I was still being greedy. I was still letting money control my life, my thoughts and my emotions.
Only by letting money go did I learn true freedom from greed.
Giving was always a part of the debt-free plan
One of my main reasons for getting out of debt in the first place was because I wanted to be able to give freely to others. That had awlays been a main goal of mine.
Why should I have to wait to be completely out of debt before I get to enjoy the feeling of giving to others?
When a family in need truly needs help, I want to help. If there is a person I feel pulled to give to, I want to be able to without feeling resistance. When my church reminds me of an upcoming cause, I want to toss in a wad of cash without second guessing.
Giving was always a part of my debt-free plan. I just wish I understood sooner that I didn’t have to wait to start.
What happened when we started tithing
It’s crazy thinking about how long we lived in a scarcity mindset. After finally beginnging to shift our mindset, we were able to become more aligned with our true callings and passions in life. Better yet, we were able to make our money work to help us achieve the lives we had always wanted.
We call this The Bucket List Budget. It’s a way of spending based on your priorities…not basing your priorities off how much you have to spend.
The stress factor
There is an amazing weight lifted off your shoulders when you let go of something that had previously kept you down. Money used to conrol our every waking thought. We were obsessed. Even when we didn’t have any because we spent it all on fast food!
Making money became easier
It might sound totally crazy, but almost as soon as we started giving, more money started coming in. I started selling things online. Everything sold in an instant.
My online business started to grow and gain traction and I was running it in an honest way that felt genuine and true to me. After tithing, we were in a money-making groove and it was amazing.
Groceries lasted longer
I can’t even explain this one. It seems crazy. Before I always seemed to have to go to the store every week. All of a sudden, it was like our food never ran out. Get our $100 a week Costco grocery list.
Our children learned generosity
When we gave, we gave with cash and our children were able to visually see us giving each month. Not only do we want them to make better money choices than we did
Then we started giving them small payments for their chores. Ten cents for doing the dishes, twenty-five cents for cleaning their rooms. At the beginning of every week, we would add up their earnings and divide it into 3 envelopes: Give, Save and Spend.
By changing the way we managed our money, we were able to start a better path of giving for our children.
We paid off debt
Not only did we pay off debt, but our ability to pay it off improved. We went from putting around $800 per month toward debt to putting almost $2,000 toward debt each month! — That’s pretty huge!
Yes, we were giving money away every month, and doubling our debt payoff amounts at the same time!
Money lost its grip
More and more we stopped obsessing over money. We had previously focused on budgeting and worried about numbers all day long. Checking our bank account was a daily habit.
It seemed that all of these worries were no longer present. Because we learned to let go.
How to practice tithing
One of the biggest questions I get asked is how to practice tithing even if you’re not a church goer. Here are some of my top recommendations for practicing tithing no matter who you are.
Not everyone is a churchgoer or has faith. I understand that.
Even if you are not a churchgoer, you might consider giving to a local church whose mission you support.
If they are working to help clean up your neighborhoods or are taking in the homeless, they could probably use your financial support.
Take the time to learn (or even call and ask) about your local churches missions so that you can help financially fund them.
Is there a local charity or cause that you would love to support?
Now is the time to start giving. The one thing with this that I recommend is rather than setting up automatic payments, try writing a check each month.
Hands-on giving just seems to have a far greater impact.
Open a “giving account”
I think this may be our next step in our giving mission; opening a giving checking account.
Putting our money each month into one designated account and then if and when we are presented with a person or opportunity to give, we can give with our whole heart.