Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking about finances. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
When we were first married, we were broke. Actually, more than broke. We had a combined $65k in school debt, which was quite a lot 20 years ago. I was under-employed, working as a research assistant first, then adjunct professor part-time, all while in graduate school full-time. My husband was employed full-time and earning a dual masters degree concurrently.
As newlyweds, we borrowed money for a down payment and bought a starter-home. We had car payments, student loan payments, tuition payments, mortgage payments, and lots of earning potential. Potential doesn’t put food on the table or keep the electricity on, though, so we were careful.
We made a budget and prioritized the debt with the goal of paying it off as fast as possible. To use a term from my grandparent’s generation—we economized. We were intentional. Slowly, our loans began to shrink and we began to shift that part of the budget to savings, rather than to the lending agencies.
A New Financial Perspective
Around this time, I came into the church and we were faced with a new financial obligation. How much do we give the church when we ourselves have so many expenses? Our family began to grow at a fairly regular pace and no amount of economizing could keep our budget from needing to swell a bit as well.
Taking care of our children was our primary obligation, but the need for us to take care of our neighbor didn’t disappear. The more we grew in our faith life as a couple, the clearer our obligation to our wider universal family became.
For the first time, we began to recognize our role as stewards of that which we were given. As a single income home with four little mouths to feed as well, our giving required a shift in our thinking. What we had each month was to be carefully managed, not squandered. It was to be shared, saved, and enjoyed in equal measure.
Tithing Fixed Our Financial Stress
When we made the decision to tithe, it actually removed some of the financial stress. We knew that a certain percent was going to the work of the Church. A specific amount was required for monthly use, and some other was set aside each month for intentional savings. The remaining then could be used freely.
When giving is drawn not from the first fruit, but from what is left over, it opens the giving to doubt and debate. Do we give that money to the church or do we buy new shoes for the kids? Do we give to the church or have a date night?
We justify why the money can and should be responsibly spent in the family, because that is the more physically present need. But the needs of our neighbor, and of our church is great too.
Learn and grow in our Faith and love for the Lord.
Time, Talent, and Treasure
Some of us look at the time, talent, and treasure as three options. As we grow in maturity, in resources, and in spirit, we have more ways to give of ourselves.
Giving freely of our time, talents, and treasures is one of the traits of a good steward. There may be times in your life when you can give in talent and time, but find yourself unable to give the treasures. When possible, a balance of all three is most excellent. Some are able to write big checks, and those individuals will still find their lives most enriched when they can also give of their time and talents as well.
Giving Back Always, in a Variety of Ways
As our family has grown over the last 20 years, careers have advanced, investments have provided returns and never once have we regretted giving to the church in time, talent, or treasure. We have started multiple ministries at the church, worked in outreach, and used our skills as we volunteer in the parish, diocese, and wider community. It has been important that as we raise our children we present tithing as a responsibility, and volunteering as a necessity when living in community. It isn’t an either/or, it is a both/and.
As you consider your role as God’s stewart, how can you give just a little more? Maybe it is in the form of finances, maybe it is time in prayer, maybe it is offering your gifts differently. You were created purposefully for this world and you make it a better place with your abundant generosity!
If you want more on the Church’s rich teachings on these engaging topics, our best-selling study, “Blessed Conversations: Rooted,” dives into the Catechism’s teachings and now offers a video companion series along with it featuring Theological Editor Susanna Spencer and Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Get it here.