Can you really afford to tithe?

This is inspired by Financial Uproar’s post: “God wouldn’t approve of this post.

He wrote:

Giving away 10% of your income is a pretty poor way to get rich.

It doesn’t matter who you give it to, it’s gone. It can’t be invested for long term growth, or used to pay down debt, or even used to buy food. Getting ahead on 100% of your income is hard enough, cutting it down to 90% is just placing an unnecessary weight upon yourself.

Okay, maybe I’m being too hard on the church.

Maybe they tell people not to tithe if they have debt.

Or, maybe they don’t have to tithe if they’re paying off high interest consumer debt. Or, perhaps the church is lenient on young adults attending school.

No on all three counts.

The church expects 10% of every dollar brought in by every member of the church.

To paraphrase the old George Carlin joke, why does an all knowing and all powerful God need your money? The answer is easy, like every organization, money makes it a whole lot easier to expand your agenda.


My grandparents on my mom’s side had 17 children (including my mother) and gave away 10% of their meager income to the church each month.

As a result, my mom and her 16 siblings went hungry for their entire childhood because their parents had no money to feed their kids.

Okay, so my grandparents (more my grandfather) was an irresponsible man to have gotten my grandmother knocked up 17 times with not an extra dime in sight, but they were extremely religious and believed in having as many kids as God would allow them.

When it comes to feeding your children and your family, that’s where I draw the line.

To me, saving at least 10% to pay yourself first so that you can do so, is more important than giving that money away.

As Financial Uproar mentioned above — Getting ahead on 100% of your income is hard enough, cutting it down to 90% is just placing an unnecessary weight upon yourself.


So that you don’t think I’m picking on the church, I feel this way about giving money you cannot afford to give away to anyone/anything/any organization, period.

I wrote a whole post on this about a family in dire financial straits who were still trying to donate money to other families when they couldn’t afford to keep theirs afloat.

Read: Charitable Donations: When it doesn’t make sense to give your money away


If you really want to tithe but cannot afford to, then tell yourself that each day you’re working to improve your financial situation.

Make a budget and track your expenses to get out of debt and start saving!

What you should do, is get into a position that allows you to tithe rather than tithing without thinking about how it affects your life.


Although I am now an atheist now (is that any surprise?) it doesn’t mean I’ve had my heart cut out of my body.

I do donate.

I donate 10% of my income each year (when I make money, that is) and sometimes I donate more, like to Japan.

The differences for me are:

  1. I donate because I want to and am not forced or guilt-tripped into doing it
  2. I donate because I have already saved for my own future
  3. I donate because I can afford it

The way I see it, if you can’t afford to take care of your own family, you are just handicapping yourself to be able to donate more money to others in need in the future.

If your family ends up as one of those families you’re helping, it makes everything worse.

So, what do you think?



About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.