Last year we gave $10 a week to our church, $100 at Christmas, and then we gave small amounts to other organizations throughout the year. We aren't even giving away 1% of our income.
I used to not worry about this much at all. I was in debt and I have always been very involved in church, donating my time, but now we're in a much different position. In the last couple of years our income has skyrocketed, but we've only given a little bit. And we're thinking it's time to change that.
But what has held us back? Here are some thoughts that run through my head whenever I debate this internally:
- The goal seems to be to give away 10% of your income, but is that pre or post tax? Should I calculate it like I do with my savings rate, including my take home pay and 401K contributions? But then won't I be giving twice on the same money if I donate when I withdraw it? Perhaps I should only include take home pay, and that gives me good reason to keep giving throughout retirement.
- I know we can live on 90% of our income (we currently live on about 25%) so 10% seems easy.
- But when I think of it in terms of dollars (about $20,000 if we use gross income) my stomach hurts. That is about half of what we spend all year. Our spending rate would increase by 50%!!!! It would be easier if we were spending on other things more freely, then I could say "hey, it's just the same as our car payments and cable TV each month."
- I wish we had started giving 10% when we were making very little. I wouldn't feel the jump so much as we would feel it now. Note to self as we're raising our kids.
- I don't think that I have to donate my entire 10% to my church. I like giving to other charities, and in fact I have numerous family members who could use the help. I feel like keeping the money for them just in case they need it (though I know they wouldn't take it).
- Ever since I got my finances under control I have worried about it becoming too important in my life. It's precisely because of how much I don't want to do this that I think we should.
This way we're stretching ourselves and making progress in the right direction.