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Is my attitude towards money unhealthy?

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 
x-posted in Personal Growth...

Please help. This is becoming an issue in my marriage and I need to get to the bottom of this. But I'm not sure I can even paint a clear picture, so please be patient.

I grew up with every advantage and every opportunity. We were not overindulged (for example, Christmas and birthdays were never extravagant) but we did live in a beautiful house, went to private schools, traveled extensively, etc. I grew up very comfortably.

By the time I was old enough to live on my own and support myself, I realized that going to the grocery store and just buying "whatever" was not my reality anymore. My parents didn't give me tools to manage my own money, however, so this has been a long journey to say the least. But to be clear, they have always been there to help me out financially, so it's not like I've ever REALLY been in financial trouble. Just the awareness that things cost money and sometimes there isn't enough to do what you want.

Fast forward. I got married to an ambitious, go-getter of a guy. We worked together for a couple of years and did very well. We bought a little house, owned our cars outright, he was always fighting over the bill when we'd go out to eat with friends or family. Very generous. And it drove me crazy. We weren't living with a budget because, well, we didn't know how. And we were making a lot of money. But I am a closet cheapskate. And I hate that about myself.

Except fast forward a couple of more years, and life has really thrown us some curveballs. I won't bore you with the details of how we got here, but we are BROKE. Like, barely making ends meet broke. We learned about budgeting and snowballing and it feels like maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But we are on Masshealth, I am in the process of applying for reduced lunch, and I am considering applying for fuel assistance. DH HATES this and gets angry when I tell him I want to do this. It really hurts his pride.
In the meantime, we are surrounded by generosity - my brothers, my parents, his family. In fact, it's getting to be too much and is downright painful sometimes.

Fastforward a bit more. DH got a new job a couple of months ago. Full commission sales. And we are finally getting our feet underneath us. When I say this I mean we are finally in a position to have a baby emergency fund, and a tiny snowball. But since he is full commission, it's not like we ever really know what the next couple of months will be like.

And now dh is talking about taking the finances over and starting to tithe. I am having a heart attack over this. How can we give when we can barely pay our bills? I should also insert here that DH grew up Protestant and I grew up Catholic. My parents always gave at church, but it's not something they really talked about, so the concept of 10% seems foreign to me and I'm not quite comfortable with it (understatement of the century. I am PANICKED)

I'm stressed out about affording groceries, so how are we supposed to be able to "give"? I have to rely on my parents for shoes and clothes for the girls. As it is I have no idea how we'll do Christmas this year. And as recently as last month we were back to using credit cards for food and gas bcs DH's commission checks were slow to trickle in.

But in all honesty, even when we were doing well, I never felt like we had enough. SO what's with my hoarding mentality? A friend of mine said to me, "If you think about it, you always feel like you don't have enough, and now you actually DON"T. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy" Which makes me think my attitude towards money needs to change. Maybe this is a law-of-attraction thing. DH says it's ok to test God when it comes to giving (Malachai) but how do I even get to the point of being able to make that leap of faith? And should I at this point, when things are so scary?? MY DH would say this is EXACTLY the time to do it. But how?? At this rate, we'll ALWAYS be in debt, ALWAYS have non-existent savings and retirement and education funds. I am SO FREAKED OUT!

If you got this far, thanks. And I'd love some BTDT stories, or someone telling me I'm in the wrong. Or that I'm in the right. I just don't know what to think.
post #2 of 59
Well... let me preface this by saying that I'm not the least bit religious and certainly can't imagine tithing...

But no, I don't think you have an unhealthy relationship w/ money. I, personally *HATE* owing people money. Hate it. With a passion. We just bought a 'new' (07) jeep wrangler, and now owe ~11k on it. And jut thinking about it makes my heart race. I *HATE* owing people money!! And, I for one don't think thats a bad thing. I honestly can't imagine having thousands in cc debt.

That said, I *don't* mind being on foodstamps & medicaid (we've been on medicaid for 3.5 yrs now, and foodstamps for a little over 1 yr...).

Honestly, if I was you, I'd refuse to tithe till you got your feet back on solid ground. I can't imagine giving money away, to anyone, when you can't make ends meet on a regular (ie 100% of the time!!) basis. But, then again, I don't have 'faith in god'.
post #3 of 59
I'm not involved with a church, so my thoughts may not be valid to your situation at all, however, in general, I've always wondered about tithing when you still owe someone else money.... even if it's the bank that holds your mortgage. Especially if you are using credit cards to pay for things... imo, it isn't your money you are giving away unless you don't have any outstanding debts, until those are all paid off it doesn't make any sense at all to me to be giving away money, because you are giving away someone else's money in truth. I would put that extra 10% towards paying off all loans if you have any, first... then, when you owe absolutely nothing at all, then you can give. While tithing might make you feel good about yourself somehow, if you are borrowing money to do it, it seems rather dishonest. I understand that people feel if they don't give first they never will... but I do think that is an issue that should be dealt with if it's a concern, rather than circumnavigated. I think I would be pretty upset with my dh if my parents were paying for my children's needs so that he could give money to someone else, something feels very wrong about that to me... but I understand you are coming from a very different place wrt to religious beliefs, so...??? Not sure if my opinion is very helpful here...
post #4 of 59
I am not religious.

I think actually you are finally starting to have a very healthy outlook about money. Personally, I think it's irresponsible for one to tithe if one is not meeting one's family's needs and are accepting any form of public assistance.

You will get stories from the tithe-payers saying how much tithing blesses them and how it is only because they tithe that they make ends meet or even prosper.

The thing is, I could connect you with just as many people who will tell you they paid tithing for years and feel like in the end they were just plain ripped off, and regret the many thousands of lost dollars.

I wouldn't give anecdotes on either side much weight. You and your husband have to come to some personal agreement on how to manage your money.
post #5 of 59
I think there's two parts to the story.

There's the question of the tithe, which is really always too much no matter how little or much you have. 10% is a lot if you do not truly believe it is going to God in the form of the poor. The poor in India tithe. The poor in Liberia tithe. The poor in Morocco tithe. People manage. It's not a question of money, it's a question of trust in a higher power and obligations to one's community.

It sounds to me like you are looking at this from a rational perspective, at a tithe as a charity of sorts. But it's more of a trust compact. You give to and you receive from the same God, the same community. You give up control for a stake in something greater than yourself.

If you're not into that, it does not mean you are a hoarder. It just means you don't really feel that that is so important. You are not the only one and it's not an unhealthy feeling. It's just a practical way of looking at the tithe, rather than a spiritual way.

Now, your feeling that you never have enough to tithe--this is partially related, because frankly, if you don't see the point in playing a trust game with a larger religious community and giving to the needy as the face of God Himself, well of course you never have enough. Because it's not a priority. Your priority is your family and your security. And that is okay.

But if you are always feeling the need to save more and more to feel secure, then I do think you should re-evaluate what makes you feel secure. Is it your family, your God, your community, your own skills and self-reliance, your willingness to meet fate for what it gives no matter what, or money in the bank? Of course if it's money in the bank, that will never be enough.

I personally think that if you write it out and think about what really makes you feel secure, you can come to a more secure feeling for yourself, regardless of how you feel about tithing and how much debt you are in.

Relying only or mostly on money to feel secure--not that you are doing that, it is just a possibility--is not healthy. A more robust set of resources that you feel comfortable naming as security might help with how you feel about it.

(I want to add that if you're in debt, AFAIK, you are not required to tithe since debt is not an expense, it's an obligation... but you should put that into your debt. I do agree, it's not your money. But surely that is a simple practical issue?)
post #6 of 59
I am religious and go to Catholic church every Sunday. I do not tithe 10% of our income .. not even close. I'll put a few singles, maybe five dollars in the basket and that's it.
My dh and I work three jobs between us. We are aggressively paying down debt and have no savings either for ourselves or our child. It's seems counterproductive for us to give away money we truly don't have. I consider us to have a negative amount of money and I really feel that's the case. The money we make does not belong to us if we owe it to a bank or medical bill or car loan. So I don't really feel it's mine to give away.
post #7 of 59
I grew up in a very religious family - my parents always tithed. Even when my Dad was on unemployment, even when our family was being supported by my Mom' $8/hour job. And I have to say that God really blessed our family and we always seemed to have enough to pay whatever bill was due that week. My husband is not at all religious and I have recently started going to church again. We don't tithe. We are flat broke and receive assistance. I do occasionally give a small amount in the offering, but it's nowhere near 10%. Sometimes I wonder if I were to start tithing if bad financial things would stop happening to us, and if God would really start to bless our family. I totally understand you freaking out about tithing though.
post #8 of 59
One question I have is, what was your giving like before this family financial meltdown? Did you tithe then? That would shed some light on at least what your history is. If your family did not do so back when your finances at least seemed stable, this seems like a crazy time to start.

Our church talks about different kinds of giving... no giving, occasional giving, consistent giving, sacrificial giving, and giving it all. While folks of many religions will agree or disagree on whether 10% is an exact number that we are somehow called to, it seems like "consistent giving" is something many find to be important. I wonder if you guys could find another way to give, or could give consistently in a way you ae both more comfortable with, without it being a specific number, during this time of bailing yourselves out of the hole you are finding yourselves in.
post #9 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ygle View Post
...I've always wondered about tithing when you still owe someone else money.... even if it's the bank that holds your mortgage. Especially if you are using credit cards to pay for things... imo, it isn't your money you are giving away unless you don't have any outstanding debts, until those are all paid off it doesn't make any sense at all to me to be giving away money, because you are giving away someone else's money in truth. I would put that extra 10% towards paying off all loans if you have any, first... then, when you owe absolutely nothing at all, then you can give. While tithing might make you feel good about yourself somehow, if you are borrowing money to do it, it seems rather dishonest.
Reading this brought such an "aha!" moment to me. Yes, it is okay to put debt payment first because it is an obligation to another person, and it's good to rid ourselves of those obligations as soon as possible. (Even with all other reasons aside.) I also put into this category the bills that I haven't paid yet, even if they are not "debt" - if I owe for my kids' extracurriculars, it's got to be a priority to pay that off as fast as possible.

Maybe I make a deal with myself that I pay the church only during months where there aren't other major obligations. I don't know.

On the other hand, I do want to allocate my money where I feel it is best placed, and I do want to see my church stay financially healthy even if I'm still paying on a loan - especially when it's a loan where I essentially have a business agreement that the item or money is mine if paid on a schedule. As long as I am paying on that schedule, and paying interest for the privilege, and I feel okay about carrying it (separate issue if I don't), I don't feel there is anything wrong with putting other money toward things that I feel are important, instead of snowballing the loan. That is my choice, yk?

But I do think it's wise to get priorities straight - what is "necessary" and what is "frivolous"? There is gray area here. Sounds like maybe your DH sees tithing as "necessary" and you see it as "frivolous." I wonder if you can come to some kind of compromise? Yes, tithing, but not 10%? Or not until X, Y, and Z loans are paid off - accept that God will understand?
post #10 of 59
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all of your replies. There are a lot of things to address here. First, I guess (and I am not speaking with any authority here) tithing is about giving to God FIRST. WHich means that all my maneuvering and negotiating defeats the purpose of the tithe. And second, abundant blessing is supposed to come out of the obedience of tithing. Not trying to turn this into a religious discussion, but maybe at the heart of it, that's what it is? EarthyMamaofDaisy - I'm kind of coming from the same place as you are. But I struggle with what some of the other posters are saying too...is it mine to give if I owe it to someone else?
And then there is the larger issue of - maybe my "energy" surrounding money is all wrong and that is why we're even in the position that we're in. My family is always so generous, and their generosity comes back to them over and over again. Do I need to take a lesson from that?

I feel like I need to say - "Listen, DH, you put $600 worth of gas on the credit card last month. I put $xxx of groceries on the credit card last month. We can't even start talking about this until that is paid off" (a small drop in our debt bucket - previously, at least we weren't ADDING to our debt!)

But the fact is, I'm just ANGRY at DH for bringing this up, just as I'm starting to feel "safe"(so maybe this needs to be posted in Parents as Partners. LOL). It's like any ground I felt like we were about to make up suddenly disappeared. He says he won't do it if I'm not on board, but I know him. He'll wear me down. And truthfully, if he's "right", how can I NOT be on board? I feel so threatened by this whole thing.
post #11 of 59
That is an interesting POV, that you should not tithe if you owe money to people. I hadn't thought of that before. I think it might state in the Bible that you only get the blessing of tithing if you are doing it cheerfully. So maybe your DH could tithe off of his half of the money and you could hold off on your half until you felt it's the right decision for you? Then when/if you start tithing you would be doing it for the right reasons. It's a hard decision though, I wish you all the best
post #12 of 59
OP, I guess I would have to disagree that tithing is about giving to God first. Tithing is giving money to a very earthly organization, composed of very real human beings. They may do great things with that money or they may not. But to me, the phrase "giving to God" has nothing to do with money. It's about honoring God's creation by treating people well, forgiving enemies, loving our neighbor, caring for the earth etc.

Giving money to charity is of course something we all should do as we can. But giving with the idea that you're going to get abundant blessing for it? No, ma'am. You should give for the sake of giving, and frankly, these stories of people being blessed after they start tithing remind me of nothing so much as the old practice of buying indulgences. You can't buy blessings from God. In my opinion, anyway.

I agree with those who say you need to get right financially with the people you owe money to. You need to build up an emergency fund so you can fulfil your responsibility of taking care of your family. You can certainly give small amounts along the way while you're doing this. But full-on tithing in your financial position? That's just irresponsible, I think.
post #13 of 59
Thread Starter 
Zinemama, I hear what you are saying and I agree. But I don't know that my take on it is "correct". Scripturally speaking we're both off base, at least according to the sources I've dug up regarding tithing. And actually, if you dig deep enough there is a pretty big debate surrounding tithing.
So all that aside I think what the real issues become are:

Is my "energy" wrong? I always feel like there isn't enough. If I start to give, maybe I will begin to see that there IS enough. Or maybe we'll be living on Ramen noodles and I won't be able to drive into town bcs there isn't any gas in the car.

I am PISSED at DH. And this conversation just uncovers a bunch of buried crap about how he got us into this fricking mess, so who is HE to start making calls on where our money goes?? Except maybe he's right, and if we change our attitudes, things will change for us. Or maybe that's a bunch of superstitious hooey. Or maybe there is something to be said for universal "flow" and "energy". Ugh.
post #14 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
I am not religious.

I think actually you are finally starting to have a very healthy outlook about money. Personally, I think it's irresponsible for one to tithe if one is not meeting one's family's needs and are accepting any form of public assistance.

You will get stories from the tithe-payers saying how much tithing blesses them and how it is only because they tithe that they make ends meet or even prosper.

The thing is, I could connect you with just as many people who will tell you they paid tithing for years and feel like in the end they were just plain ripped off, and regret the many thousands of lost dollars.

I wouldn't give anecdotes on either side much weight. You and your husband have to come to some personal agreement on how to manage your money.
post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by cristina47454 View Post
Is my "energy" wrong? I always feel like there isn't enough. If I start to give, maybe I will begin to see that there IS enough.
IF you are going to give, you and dh should mutually decide where the money goes. So if you decide to give X away, he should be able to give half of it to his church, and you should be able to give half of it away to a charity of your choice.

But 10% would give me grief, too. So no, I don't think you're "wrong."
post #16 of 59
I think this is something that you need to talk over with God, yourself.
post #17 of 59
I don't see that your energy has anything to do with it. Either you have enough money to put away for an emergency fund and pay off your debt, as well as tithe 10% - or you don't. It's a matter of looking at your budget. Maybe you have enough to meet your obligations and tithe 4%. Maybe it's 3%.

Regardless of your "energy" around money, if you have enough of it to meet your obligations, you have enough. If you can't do that, you don't. You should't have to speculate about whether or not you'll be eating Ramen if you tithe. You should know that.
post #18 of 59
It doesn't sound like a totally financial problem to me. More like your DH and you have different views regarding how important tithing is. You simply have to discuss this with him a lot and figure out some sort of compromise. A lot of us are not religious and you probably don't exactly want the point of view from atheists. It's like... don't mix up logic and emotions.
post #19 of 59
I think that you should look at the "allowance" thread that was running at the end of last week and consider figuring out an allowance for you and your dh. Then, at this point, let the tithing come from his allowance.
I too am looking for practical and spiritual answers to my situation!
post #20 of 59
I attend a church I love and don't give anywhere near 10%. I think that if it makes you that nervous, you should just give what you can. That said, we are NOT biblical literalists and give because we want to and because we love our church, not because we think that God cares or mandates it.
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