Should You Tithe If You Can’t Pay Bills?

You may be in a season where you’re bringing in a paycheck, but at the end of the day, you’re just not sure where the money is going. It’s painful to have more month at the end of your money. If you’re in that situation, giving 10% of your income to your local church may seem unthinkable.

But when you fall on hard times, do you still tithe? Absolutely! If you aren’t tithing because you can’t pay your bills, here are three challenges for you get back on track. Let’s dive in.

Challenge #1: Where Is Your Money Going?

First things first: The number one question I would ask you is: Where is the money going? More money will not fix your tithing problem if you don’t know where your money is going in the first place.

Take the same approach you’d use if you were trying to improve your health: Watch your inputs and manage your outputs. How do you do this with your finances? It’s called a spending plan. Most people don’t plan their spending, so their spending dictates their life.

With this tool, you fill out what’s coming in versus what’s going out. You can easily download our free spending plan template. Start by writing down the last three months’ worth of expenses and then make this a monthly practice.

Challenge #2: Evaluate Your Priorities

Take a step back and evaluate your spending plan. This will show you where your priorities are. Believe me, you’ll be surprised what you find! Maybe you crunch the numbers and decide that yes—we have an input problem, so your focus needs to be coming up with ways to supplement your income. Or maybe your expenses are out of control.

You need to make sure your family has the essentials: shelter, water, electricity and food. After that, everything else is discretionary. If you’re spending on anything outside the fundamental expenses and are not tithing, you’re prioritizing self and family above God. Your eyes are bigger than your wallet, and you’re spending more than you’re making. You’re off track.

Proverbs 3.9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” The goal is to get to the place where your tithe is one of the first things you pay. So how do you get there?

Challenge #3: Make Hard Calls

Once you’ve filled out your spending plan and figured out where the outliers are, you have to make hard calls.

  • Sell what you can. Anyone can sell just about anything online these days from the comfort of your home, whether on Facebook Marketplace or yard sale apps—even eBay. Post items and earn extra cash while purging what you don’t need.
  • Downsize. This is where your spending plan comes in again. Are there areas you can trim immediately like streaming services, subscriptions, or eating out excessively? Start making some calls. Also, making your rent or mortgage payment is typically the largest household expense, so maybe it’s time to research a smaller house or apartment to save on living expenses and reduce bills. Other ways to downsize include waiting another year or two to upgrade to the new iPhone or having a staycation instead of your trip to Disney this summer.
  • Have tough conversations. Typically, one spouse is the spender and one the saver—so maybe you need to sit down with your spouse and evaluate who is doing the spending. Or better yet, if you’re the guilty party, maybe you need to have a hard conversation with yourself: What’s the root issue driving you to spend so much?

Tithing is more than just giving 10%. It’s being responsible with the whole 100% that God has given you. No one said this would be easy—but the payoff is worth it.

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