Decreasing charitable contributions

My husband has bee very charitable his whole life; I love this about him!
However, now that he a wife and two toddlers … I’m questioning him about reducing charity. He is very hurt and angry that he can’t provide. Looking at our bank pie chart we talked about where the money goes and it’s like this:

24% (mortgage, car, credit cards)
5% bills (phone, gas, water)
6% auto (gas, repair)
8% groceries
12% charity
5% church
20 % parents
5% finance/insurance
16% other (gifts, vacation, household,ect)

IMO Tithing should be at least 10% of treasure. Should tithing be on Gross/net? My husband does this on gross (amount before taxes, medical, retirement). I would other against this if we were not habitually spending more than we deposit into our checking. Since we also support the parents (his parents) I kinda view this tithing … But my husband views it as something else.

We make more than our family and friends, but seem unable to live within our deposits. Am I being totally wrong about cutting our charity?

How much you give is going to subjective. No one will have the “right” answer. Everyone needs to look at their situation and with God’s help through prayer, decide how much they can give. I go by the 5% to church and 5% to charity rule myself, so your family is doing very well in my book. =) Ultimately, you and your husband need to find a way to balance the budget. If your husband is not willing to cut charity, maybe there are other areas you can agree to cuts on, such as vacation. You could try a staycation instead of a normal vacation, saving a lot on travel expenses. I agree that tithing should be based on gross.

It’s not that he cannot provide, it’s that your income and expenses (like most married couples’) change over time, and the budget needs to adjust with it. It sounds like he’s a great provider… he just needs to consider whether, as a steward of God’s gifts, he might need to adjust the budget to accommodate recent changes to your expenses.

I think I would (respectfully and sincerely) ask him to look over the budget and see where you two can cut back to accommodate new expenses and stay within your income. You can mention what you need for certain expenses (such as groceries or kids’ clothing) if he needs that information, but refrain from offering your ideas about what you think should be cut or changed (unless he asks for your opinion). After all, there is more than one way to adjust a budget. :wink: Let him come up with a possible solution–he may surprise you!

Also, have you looked into Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey)? Might be something to consider, especially if you two are currently spending (and giving) more than you’re making. Because I would think most couples would like to get their debts paid off and have some savings set aside for emergencies. :wink:

And remember to pray about it, as well. :gopray2:

Jared2914,

Did you notice that their charity, church giving, and gifts to parents total 37% of their income?

GigglyGiraffe,

It’s great that your husband is generous, but it looks to me like his giving is out of line for a father of a growing family (unless you have a spectacular income–like mid-six figures).

As I recall, the letter we recently got from our parish suggested the following distribution for giving: 4% of income to parish, 1% to diocese, and 5% to charity.

Our household giving is done out of net (which I feel is kind of wimpy). I’m hoping we’ll eventually move to 10% of gross. If there are particular needs among our circle (new baby in poorer family, fire, medical, flowers or other get well gifts to sick friends and family, gifts of books on particular subjects to friends), we give out of that 10%. At the end of the month, we usually divide the remainder between the parishes we go to and Caritas, with occasional gifts to the kids’ school and some missionary priests. We go into the month with a set budget for charity (10% of net income) and we spend that amount and only that amount. It helps to spend charity funds at the end of the month so that if any pressing needs come up, we always have funds on hand.

From the sound of it, it doesn’t sound like your husband is involving you enough in the budgeting process and it sounds like he may be shorting your household. For one thing, looking at your list, I don’t see any line items for emergency savings, extra debt repayment, saving for new car or other major purchases, retirement investment, or kids’ college. It would be sad, after all this giving, if when the time came for your kids to go to college, they had to take on heavy loans. It would also be sad for your kids and for you if you had to live off of them, like your husband’s parents are doing to you.

I would definitely encourage you and your husband to start doing a monthly budget together and to stick with it. You might benefit from taking a personal finance class together such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

After you guys get your house in order, I would also encourage your husband to have a good look at his parents’ budget and to help them streamline their living expenses. For example, they might have a spare car or RV or motorcycle that they never use, appliances they don’t need, a house that is too big for them to take care of, insurance that they don’t need, bad internet, cable, or phone contracts, and so forth. This will be ticklish, but when you’re giving 20% of your income to support them, I feel like a more hands-on approach is necessary.

Best wishes!

As a husband, my first duty is to provide for my wife and children. Everything else including charity is a second. The cost of basic living is going up all the time. Wages are not increasing anywhere in line with these increased costs. Any sane person knows this.
Where does tithing at 10% of gross come into the picture? Not from the history of the Catholic Church.
I have been a devout catholic all my life. I stopped giving to Catholic education first plate offerings when Catholic schools stopped teaching the Faith. I always give what I can to the priest on the second collection. This is no where near ten percent of my salary. More like $20.
Does the priest starve? No. Does he have trouble filling his car with gas? No. So until he does my 20 must be sufficient along with the other coin and fivers and tenners I see in the collection plate each Sunday.
Is the Church falling down? No. Our Archdiocese admitted to a Royal Commission last week that it had reserves of two billion dollars. That is just one city.
I give money to the lepers and the Doctors without Borders; the SVDP and the retirement fund for old priests and a Catholic College that is orthodox and supported by the Bishop.
But I look after my family, because I know if we have a financial crisis then there is no value in going to the church for help. It is not their job.
And whilst they have millions to pay out as compensation to the sex victims then they don’t need ten percent gross of my wage.

Petaro said:

“Does the priest starve? No. Does he have trouble filling his car with gas? No. So until he does my 20 must be sufficient along with the other coin and fivers and tenners I see in the collection plate each Sunday.”

Bear in mind that more substantial gifts aren’t going to be given in cash, so you won’t see them.

“But I look after my family, because I know if we have a financial crisis then there is no value in going to the church for help. It is not their job.”

You don’t have Catholic Charities, Caritas, St. Vincent de Paul, or food pantries?

giggly giraffe said : "My husband has bee very charitable his whole life … I’m questioning him about reducing charity. He is very hurt and angry that he can’t provide… IMO Tithing should be at least 10% of treasure. Should tithing be on Gross/net? My husband does this on gross … Since we also support the parents (his parents) I kinda view this [to be part of our] tithing … But my husband views it as something else… Am I being totally wrong about cutting our charity?"

Charity begins at the Home.

I have Tithed 10% of my Gross income since my early adulthood.
But, that does not mean that I advise anyone else to do the same.

I believe that a person should not donate ONE Penny more than he wants to (if anything at all).
Donating to the Poor (or to a Church, or Non-Profit organization) is Completely Optional behavior.
The Catholic Church, for example, has NO minimum amount a Parishioner should donate.
And, most Protestant Churches ALSO do not ask their Parishioners to Tithe 10%.

In my opinion, if you are paying 20% of your income to your Parents-in-Law, that THAT AMOUNT should be counted against any Donation amount that your husband wishes to pay.
I say this because you ARE Donating money to them (it’s NOT a Loan, after all).
And, you are donating it to them, because they are in Need of that donation.
I analogize this to donating to a Home-less person on the Street (which would COUNT against a Tithing amount).
(And, it might be that if you did not give them your monthly donation, that they might be Home-less too.)

As far as donating on a Family’s Gross income … or, Net income. I think that the Deductions for Social Security, Unemployment, Disability … and Taxes you actually PAY, are reasonable to be deducted before Tithing on the rest.

Giving to charity/needy lately is really a crapshoot.

Take for instance the Red Cross. How many people donated after the Haiti earthquake? How much was pulled in? Where did all that money eventually end up? At the press of time on this post, nobody still knows where it went.

The bum on the street no longer is grateful or thankful if you give him some cash a buy him a cup of hot coffee or maybe a pair of winter gloves to stay warm. Now you are intimidated into giving them money. They are hostile and ungrateful.

Other than donating directly to my parish, you have to wonder where my charity goes? I’ll tell you where. St. Jude’s Children Hospital. More than half of those poor children are terminal. I offer as much when I can. Strangely, I don’t care whether the money goes towards medicine, medical bills, staff pay. I just want they money to benefit the children in some way. Even if it means my donation buys them a simple stuffed animal. At least I know it’s something they will take pleasure in while they can on this Earth.

If your budget is an accurate representation, you are not saving anything. This is a huge mistake. If you’re including it under “Finance/Insurance,” the amount is much too small.

Your budget needs to be readjusted. You’re giving away more than one-third of your income, which, unless your DH is earring in the very high six figures, is not a rational, or sustainable, amount.

And this is the key point.

GG, my recommendation would be to compromise with your husband. He wants to use “gross”, ok. Take that 37% of net that is going to current giving and convert it to gross. Then target that amount to come down closer to 10% of your gross. If he sees that your contributions are already surpassing 10% of the gross, he might be more willing to discuss budget adjustments.

For example, 37% of your net might represent 20% of your gross. Bring that down to 10% of your gross, divided between church, charity and in-laws. Put the difference into savings, if you can. :slight_smile:

Please note that in my original post I mentioned I gave to the SVDP meaning St. Vincent de Paul Society. Don’t get me wrong. We have to support our church. But we have a priority to our family first and I prefer to give to the poor than to take up this protestant idea of tithing such a significant portion of gross salary to the Church itself.

Petaro said:

“Please note that in my original post I mentioned I gave to the SVDP meaning St. Vincent de Paul Society.”

I eventually decoded that, but initially, it was Greek to me.

“Don’t get me wrong. We have to support our church. But we have a priority to our family first and I prefer to give to the poor than to take up this protestant idea of tithing such a significant portion of gross salary to the Church itself.”

Your phrasing was a little puzzling. I think I understand what you mean now–you prefer to give to charities rather than all to your parish (or in Protestant terminology, your “home church”).

If I were in your shoes, and just based on the limited information you have given, I would be inclined to make at least two major budget changes:

(1) Add budget categories for savings, including:

[LIST]
*]Emergency savings (until you have saved at least 3 to 6 months of expenses in a bank savings account)
*]Retirement savings (in a Roth IRA and/or 401(k) account)
*]College savings (in an ESA or 529 plan)
*]Savings for things that your family will need in the not-too-distant future. (Depending on your needs this might include a newer vehicle, a substantial downpayment on a new house, orthodontic expenses, etc.)
[/LIST]

Ideally you should be saving at least 10% to 15% of your income for retirement, in addition to the other savings goals that I mentioned. But if you are saving nothing right now (which is what I gather from your budget quoted above), then you might need to start at a lower level and gradually work upward.

(2) Adjust the budget so that you are not spending and saving more than you take in each month.

By implementing these two changes, it does seem that the charitable giving level would have to come down substantially, unless there are other places that you can significantly cut spending.

Yes, 37% to charity (parents, church, charity) is very generous, and way out of line. Very few people can give this much to charitable causes and still take care of their family.

I know this is definitely going to be controversial but I don’t give very much to the Church or charity anymore. I don’t make enough money to pay for charity through taxes and government programs as well as private Church related charity. The Church has been fighting for decades on behalf of government welfare programs so it should be fine with taking in less money itself as a result. If it wants the government to be the main distributor of charity then it should not expect us fund the Church as well.

I would much prefer to support the Church and its related charities but they have given me no choice, I have limited resources.

I’m a little suspicious of big private charities.

I keep thinking about some person on a limited income making sacrifices to give some of their money to “charity” and some of that money going to somebody’s big salary and VIP perks.

This is similar to what I was taught.

I was told that the 10% figure came from a time period when the needy had to rely primarily on private charities.

Today the government has taken over much of that function with extensive public assistance programs that we pay for through taxes. I am not suggesting that this is a bad thing.

So, we should still support charities and of course we should support our Church, but the amount might not have to be as high, because in effect we’re paying for charity through part of our taxes.

I want to add a few additional points to what I wrote above. First, I really do admire your and your husband’s commitment to charitable giving.

Second, if you have debts other than your mortgage (credit card debt, student loan debt, car debt, etc.), I would also prioritize paying those off as quickly as possible, even if it means saving less in the short-term.

Third, you wrote:

I would just point out that if you are spending more than you make each month, and if this means that you are running up debts, then some of the money that you are giving to charity is not really your money to give. Rather you are borrowing from someone else (e.g., a credit card company) in order to finance part of your charitable giving. I doubt that there is any support in Scripture or in Tradition for borrowing money in order to give more to charity. And just from a common-sense perspective, we are not really giving of ourselves if we are borrowing money from someone else in order to increase our charitable donations. This might be a way to approach this subject with your husband.

Paul GH said

“I would just point out that if you are spending more than you make each month, and if this means that you are running up debts, then some of the money that you are giving to charity is not really your money to give. Rather you are borrowing from someone else (e.g., a credit card company) in order to finance part of your charitable giving. I doubt that there is any support in Scripture or in Tradition for borrowing money in order to give more to charity. And just from a common-sense perspective, we are not really giving of ourselves if we are borrowing money from someone else in order to increase our charitable donations. This might be a way to approach this subject with your husband.”

Exactly.

This is going to be a delicate area with the OP’s husband, but is there some sort of culture issue involved in needing to support the in-laws? Are they able-bodied? Are they getting Social Security or any pensions or any employment income? It’s entirely possible that they have more disposable income than your family if they have your 20% plus some other forms of income–after all, there are two of them and four of you.

My husband is a good provider (although he doesn’t see it).

Yes we have strong emergency savings, yes we have a good retirement savings, yes we have good college saving.

No, we do not have good savings for immediate expenses: car, orthodontist, even carpet cleaning, landscaping, vacations, or date nights. My husbands solution (his whole life), “I’ll work more overtime” … Which takes him away from family, creates more time adjusting budget, more treasure given to charity, and still hard time with surprise expenses … Let alone saving for stuff like house painting/bathroom remodel/ vacation.

Our family seems to be OCD on cleaning; I’m fond of messes. They come over for parties and stare at spots in the rug and talk about it like its an engineering project to take priority over the party. To clean the carpets (priority ones) costs $350 … And they all get their done about 4 times a year (probably more rooms) … We just don’t have enough in our disposable budget to"keep up with the Jones". … Even if we did, I’d rather spend the extra money in staycation mode.

Sigh … But cutting the budget in charity for clean rugs, trips to the aquarium, and house painting makes me feel bad … And my husband feel like a bad provider. How can we reconcile these?

Giggly Giraffe said:

“No, we do not have good savings for immediate expenses: car, orthodontist, even carpet cleaning, landscaping, vacations, or date nights. My husbands solution (his whole life), “I’ll work more overtime” … Which takes him away from family, creates more time adjusting budget, more treasure given to charity, and still hard time with surprise expenses … Let alone saving for stuff like house painting/bathroom remodel/ vacation.”

Gah. That sounds terrible.

I know people like this (the “I’ll work harder” types) and it doesn’t work. As Dave Ramsey says, you can’t outearn your stupidity. (That’s probably not a quote you want to share with your husband, of course.)

It’s time for a personal finance class (together), marriage counseling and/or a talk with your pastor or a trained financial counselor. No actual professional is going to approve of your husband’s spending. In particular, I hate the fact that you seem to have so little say in your family’s finances. Your husband gets to be “the good guy” with this extravagant giving, while his own household goes without stuff that people who are poorer than you get to have.

But just as something you can do at home right now, start tracking your expenses. Schedule a budget meeting (maybe even with a sitter, so you can do it when you’re not tired). When your husband gets his next paycheck, sit down and make a budget for the following month. The key is, we spend the money we earned in April in May, rather than spending the money we’re going to have. We don’t spend any money until it’s in our hot little hands. And giving is going to be a reasonable percentage of what funds we actually have. Checking out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or a similar book would be a good idea.

“Sigh … But cutting the budget in charity for clean rugs, trips to the aquarium, and house painting makes me feel bad … And my husband feel like a bad provider. How can we reconcile these?”

Your husband is not a bad provider–he’s a great provider, a bad planner and a bad budgeter. And if he doesn’t watch it, he’s going to be a bad father and a bad husband.

It’s not wrong for you to spend money on your family. As St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:8, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Also, think about the kids–what are they going to think about this as they get bigger? Are they going to be inspired by their dad’s example, or is it going to sour them on generosity? “Dad could have taken us to the aquarium, but he was too busy working and impressing other people.” That’s not really what you want to hear from your kids 20 years from now.

You need a line in your budget for regular home maintenance and family outings.

Best wishes!

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