How to Tithe When in Debt

This post might not apply to everyone, but I hope its helpful if it applies to you.

The tricky thing about being in debt is that you have to pay the money back. And of course, if you have a religious conviction about tithing, you should treat it as non-negotiable.

If you’re struggling financially, it can be a tough balancing act to try to meet both obligations.

Here are six steps that can help you get out of debt while remaining faithful in your giving.

Automate Your Tithe

If you have a predictable income like a salary, you should automate your tithe if possible.

You really don’t want to have to make a new decision every time you get paid as to whether or not you can afford to tithe. When you automate it, it becomes another expense you have to account for.

Pay the Minimum

Ultimately, the way to pay off your debt as quickly as possible is to pay extra every month. That’s going to be step six, and you aren’t ready for it yet.

Right now, just pay the minimum on all your balances. It would be best if you can automate this as well.

Cut Your Overhead

Now is the time to keep your living expenses lean.

Cancel absolutely every subscription you can. Find a cheaper phone plan. Call your internet provider and ask for a discount. Shop around for a better deal on car insurance.

If you really want to move the needle, find a roommate or move somewhere cheaper. Moving might not make sense if you’re a homeowner and will incur huge costs, but if you rent you should absolutely be thinking about finding somewhere cheaper to live until you can afford better.

Keep Discretionary Purchases Lean

The last step (cutting overhead) is the best way to save money. You do the work once and the savings just keep rolling in.

But when you are really in trouble, you need to pull out all the stops and cut back on your ongoing spending as well.

For instance, you should be cooking more and eating out less. Time to get really good at cooking a few frugal favorites.

Also, even as you cook your meals. Try to prioritize cheap ingredients. I once wrote a post asking whether eating rice and beans to save money was cheap or frugal. If you’re so far in debt that you’re not sure you can tithe, you don’t have the luxury of asking the question. Enjoy your delicious and nutritious arroz con frijoles.

Increase Your Income

Increasing your income is tough, but it’s the most powerful way out of the mess you’re in.

Yes, earning more will increase the amount you are tithing, but that still leaves 90% of the extra income still in play to help you with your expenses or paying off your debt.

There are a few obvious strategies here. Take on a second job. Look for a higher paying job. Ask for a raise at work. You might want to check out some of the other articles I’ve written on the topic:

Pay Extra

Once you are able to tithe, pay the minimums, and comfortably cover your living expenses. You should pay extra to eliminate your debt as quickly as possible.

Pick one source of debt (the one with the lowest balance or the highest interest rate depending on if you are using the Debt Snowball or Debt Avalanche approach), and pay as much as you can towards it until it’s paid off. Then move on to the next one.

Once all your debt is paid off, you’ll have eliminated all the minimum payments and all the extra payments that you were making. You are now free to start saving and can ease up on your Spartan standard of living.

Final Thoughts

Your debt is a financial emergency that needs to be addressed. If you’re the kind of person who tithes (and why would you be reading this if you aren’t?), tithing is an important spiritual discipline.

Both are non-negotiable.

To be able to tithe when paying off your debt, you’ll likely have to both cut costs and increase income.

The good news is that there’s a finish line to shoot for. Becoming debt-free will make managing your money much easier going forward.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

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