Tithing and debt

I understand that the Church doesn’t require tithing. However, I have been tithing for awhile now and love giving. Lately I have started paying off debts, and if I continue tithing it will be bad budget wise. Do you think paying my debts is seen as a sort of tithing by God in place of what I would give to the Church? Just wanted to get some opinions on this.

Work towards a balanced budget that includes charitable giving. That may take a while and may require reducing other expenses.


I’m not sure why you would envision repaying debts to people you owe for things you purchased as tithing.

Stewardship is charitable giving and support of the Church through time, talent, and treasure.

Repaying creditors what they are due is simply that, repaying what is owed. It is just to do so,
but it is not stewardship towards the church or other charities.


Our family didn’t tithe at all last year — we simply couldn’t afford to. We attended Mass faithfully but passed the collection basket on to others. It was painful to do so but it was necessary. Consider giving your stewardship in some other way if you can’t give financially at this time.


Yes, give of your time and talent. Surely there is a need in your parish or community.

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Well, in the way it reduces the amount of future funds tied up in interest payment, to be freed up for increased donations to the church, it could be seen that way.


First help me understand your meaning of tithing…does this mean yo are giving 10% of all you make to the Church?

  1. Catholics are required to support their parish and the Church with their time, talent and treasure. They are not required to tithe as in give 10 percent of their income. It’s a judgment of your own conscience how much you give and in what forms.

  2. If you have monetary debts to pay off, then pay them (and avoid incurring new debt unless absolutely necessary). If this means you have to reduce your monetary giving to the Church, then reduce it and try to give of yourself in other ways. Plan to increase your giving again once you get out of debt.

  3. Paying off your debts doesn’t count towards a tithe amount (although we’re not even required to tithe anyway so I don’t know why you’d go through this gyration) nor does it count as charitable giving. It can however be seen as a good, prudent, honest and moral thing to do.


Yes that’s what I’ve been doing.

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Because I was giving money to the Church for awhile and it reduced how much I could use to pay my debts. What I meant was that if I give less to the Church to pay off my debt would God still look positively on it since I am doing the right thing.


There is no requirement to give 10% of your income to the Church. If your budget does not allow 10% right now, then make an adjustment.

Get your budget under control so that you are not going into debt.


I try to give $10 a week plus $5 for any special collections and $2 per week for votives, as I light two vigil candles per week. In weeks I go to confession I give another $10. At present though, I am unemployed and must give less.

When I return to work, I will resume my usual and have decided to also treat the amount I withheld during unemployment as a debt. I will make up for it over time. I have other debt too and hope that when I am back to work and caught up, and satisfy some debts, that I can increase donations over time…maybe add $5 a week and see if I can give $500 on my saint’s day or something.

Just sharing because I’m in a similar boat and this is what I came up with as a solution.


Also debt is bondage and makes it difficult to give, nevermind giving faithfully and cheerfully.

Not to try to make you unholy or weaken your faith but could you consider tithing on the net rather than the gross? This way, you take 10% of whatever you have leftover from your paycheck after you have paid your federal taxes, your state taxes, your health insurance, and your 401k. But as soon as you take the $$$ home, you give off the top just as you would with retirement accounts, such as contributing to a RothIRA. And if you fund your retirement accounts adequately, you will hopefully be able to tithe or give above the tithe as part of your first fruits when you retire.

The other option I see is if you are contributing less than 10% to your retirement, you take half the money you earn and contribute that to retirement and the other half donate to the church or charity. For instance, if you are contributing 10% to the church but only 2% to retirement, maybe you increase retirement to 6% and give 6% to the church, thus effectively donating half your future wealth. This would require you to work at least 2 extra years to make up the difference.

God does own everything, thus it’s a prudence thing and a stewardship thing not a legalism thing. We should all give sacrificially (aka cancel cable so we can give or eat out one less time per week or per month) so that we are able to give at least a little of what we earn.

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I probably fall into legalism sometimes, but not intentionally. I think it’s just hard for me to say I used to tithe on my gross, now I’m only doing net…because I can’t always find a good reason to give less that isn’t selfish.

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I can understand that. It’s difficult to donate one amount and than to reduce your giving. I can see how that can feel selfish. I do think getting rid of debt and preparing for the future is part of financial stability which will help your ability to continue to give.

That said, giving is an act of faith. And givers do tend to do better than none-givers. There’s just something attractive to someone that has a giving heart instead of a tight fist over all the money that is earned. I don’t know what’s the right balance as I am more the presumptuous than legalistic.


One shouldn’t get too anxious about money. One person might worry that they don’t have enough to meet their needs. Another might have enough but worry anyway about losing the money they have invested. And here you are worrying about the appropriate percentage to give to the Church.

Don’t worry! You should own your money, and not let it own you. You can earn it, save it, spend it, or give it away, all without being attached to it.

May your earning, saving, spending, and giving all work together in harmony with your faith. When you give, don’t give to meet a percentage. Give as an expression of faith, hope, and love. If all you can give is a dollar, then give it with great love, not guilt. If this year you have to spend more on your family, spend it with love, not regret.


Paying your debts is definitely not selfish. We have a biblical and Christian responsibility to repay our debts as soon as we’re able.

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Giving to the faith does not have to involve money…Time and Talent are equally as important as Treasue.

I think that’s where I am lacking. I think I am afraid to give anything, but I could easily give $5, $10, or maybe even $20/week into the church basket without significantly extending the time it would take to buy a house, pay-off $64,000 in debt, or saving for childcare. As we make $78,000/yr, a tithe would be $150/week on the gross or approximately $85/week on the net.

A tithe would be similar to what our eating out budget used to be and that was clearly unaffordable as I racked up at least $10,000 in CC debt in restaurants. Granted my salary is 12.5% higher than it was in 2016.

I can’t advise you on specific percentages or dollar amounts, but I think it’s important to at least give something to the Church and/or charities.

In my opinion, paying off credit card debt should be a very high priority. Without the high interest payments, you’ll have more to donate or to put toward other good purposes. Also consider paying off the home loan ahead of schedule.

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