Many of you still find yourselves in financial trouble. Have you really learned to USE YOUR PRESENT INCOME to its full advantage? Read in this article how you can.
"I HAVE paid my tithes faithfully for six months — still I have received no raise in salary," complains one. Another says: "I am still in debt after tithing two years." Or: "I thought you said tithing would end my financial worries." These statements are often brought to God's ministers. Perhaps you have privately thought this very thing. Brethren, we have frankly been shocked at the financial problems of so many of you. It appears some have assumed that tithing is God's only financial law — and you have tried to apply it selfishly — to satisfy fleshly lusts, while neglecting God's other laws. Others of you are simply not tithing properly. Let's understand this vital subject!
What God Promised
First of all God has not promised to double the salary of everyone who begins to tithe. Read again what He says, "... prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and POUR YOU OUT A BLESSING, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal. 3:10). Here is God's LIVING PROMISE — a blessing so great that we cannot even receive it! Many have assumed this would bring more money into their bank accounts — make them into financial giants. But stop to think a moment — could you ever be given enough money that you could not even have room to receive it? You might think so, but no one ever has! Multimillionaires still want more money — they are never content with what they have. These men still might have financial problems — but the trouble is not lack of money — the problem is GREED FOR MORE! We live in a world where money is the standard of exchange. It is necessary to live in this world. And this standard is allowed by God. Therefore, we must LEARN TO USE MONEY PROPERLY — it is a vital lesson. The apostle Paul was certainly able to use what we today would call thousands and even millions of dollars to publish the Gospel to the Gentile world. But there were many times when he did not have that abundance. Notice his admonition to us, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be CONTENT. I know both how to be abased (poor and without funds), and I know how to abound (have sufficient and abundance): everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Phil. 4:11-12). Yet Paul continually gave God thanks for His abundant blessings! He even wrote to the Ephesians, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1: 3).
The Laws We Forget
God IS BLESSING US! We need to learn to recognize it and how to handle these blessings. The very first thing is to learn to be CONTENT IN WHATEVER STATE YOU FIND YOURSELF! This is an all-important lesson! Be content to live this way and under these finances until God sees fit to increase your means. An increase is not the GOAL! It is a blessing for which we must wait patiently — all the while doing what we can to improve ourselves. Lack of WISDOM and FORESIGHT has caused more financial trouble than anything else! It seems some continually have possessions taken from them or they have need of a household item which they cannot afford. Again, the reason is not always lack of funds! Much of the reason is POOR MANAGEMENT!! We should learn as children aid teenagers how to handle money — but very few do. This-nation is prosperous beyond imagination! And this nation has more people who complain about lack of funds! What a paradox! Every person should begin right now to LIVE WITHIN HIS MEANS! Never try to over-extend. Problems would not result if this BASIC RULE were followed diligently. Somehow people begin to think a certain wage increase will solve their problems. There is the idea that more money to spend without proper management will solve it. This is not the case! In fact, more money is usually a temptation to spend more — whether you can afford it or not. You can add insult to injury if you are not ready for an increase! Individuals who are unemployed — who have no income whatsoever — come to God's ministers. Their problem is to get money coming in. But so many who hold good jobs making $75 a week or up to $200 a week still have money problems. But just in case you still think you would not have problems if your salary were greatly increased read what Solomon wisely advises, "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich WILL NOT SUFFER HIM TO SLEEP" (Eccl. 5:12). Better it is to have a humble, happy home than to worry over how to handle and protect riches! The love of money has caused as much war, strife, hatred, animosity, and turmoil as nearly anything in the world! Friends have parted, marriages have broken up, children have left home, and men have committed suicide — all because of money! And yet, it is HUMAN NATURE to want more money! We complain and grumble if we don't get it. Remember always that you will never come to the point, of your own human will, that you will not want more money. You must learn God's way to use your income! So learn to manage what you have! There are principles of financing God wants you to learn. It is absolutely necessary for you to learn these lessons if you ever will qualify to take over the entire head of government of states and cities under Jesus Christ! There you will be a King or Priest handling finances, construction, and redevelopment of the entire world. Your position depends on your ability to handle what you have and improve by overcoming to the end. God has instituted a system of financing and apportionment which most of this world has totally ignored. It is the only way to really learn proper management. This system, which even Abraham practiced and obeyed (Gen. 14:20), is TITHING. Tithing enables each wage earner to take a percentage of his increase to use for his own needs — 90% of all he earns. The first 10% belongs to God and must faithful) be set aside and used by God's Church to proclaim the warning message to this entire world before Jesus Christ comes to set up God's Kingdom on earth. Obedience to this principle yields Gods merciful blessings and leads to financial capabilities never known before. But all this is not without proper management. You must learn to handle that 90% of your earnings properly! Because God does not always increase a salary, many have wondered if God will bless them. Members of God's church often read letters written to Mr. Armstrong telling how much God has added after they began to tithe. Some receive large inheritances. Others are promoted on their jobs, or offered a better job with higher pay. But on the other hand, some lose jobs, or must take a position of lower pay for a period of time. What many fail to realize — even in examples of decrease in pay — is that after tithes are taken out that 90% always goes as far, and in many cases farther than the 100% ever did before. If you begin to rely completely on God, expensive doctor bills are eliminated, failures to crops are less and less, business appointments prove successful, and general emergencies that cause cash outgo to increase happen far less frequently. All these add to greater blessings — and when we recognize it — God will add increase. Hundreds have remarked there seems to be an unwritten law which cannot be put down on paper — a law that causes what money you have to always stretch to be enough. God has promised, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (all the necessities of life)" (Matt. 6:33). There are three necessities: (1) Food, (2) Clothing, and (3) Shelter. Expensive furniture, automatic washers, television and Hi-Fi sets, a second car for the family, double ovens, and many other modern "conveniences" should only be purchased as one is able and has the money. These are certainly wonderful to have — God would like everyone to enjoy this type of physical prosperity — but only after we have learned to handle them and use them properly. The tithing system teaches us we must get by on what we have — then look to God to provide what He KNOWS we SHOULD HAVE! Out of the 90% we have, there are still percentages which God tells us how to handle — he gives us advice on how to apportion our money to the best use possible. Few have applied the principles in the right way. An important rule in financing is to APPROPRIATE MONEY FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT ITEMS FIRST — leave the less important till last! If you cannot afford something you would like to have. wait until you can. When you receive your check, how do you treat it? What obligations do you pay first? If you look to God for provision, you will always set aside His tithe the very first thing. The chances are that Uncle Sam will already have his part taken out before you even see your check. He is absolutely certain of that. However, taxes are still not the most important. They are not even second most important. But since they are taken out we must honor and respect the laws. Christ said, "... Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:21). This will probably take from 8% on up to 50% of your income, depending upon what your wages are. Generally it will amount to 15% as an average. The greater number of deductions, the less that will be also. The next most important deduction is not a bill outstanding. It is something God knows we would not do unless He told us. So He commands us to save what we would not ordinarily set aside. This is the SECOND TITHE! Although this term is not found in the Bible, the LAW is very clear as to its use and the necessity to save it. No matter how large or how small our incomes are, God deals with us on the same percentage — another 10%. This is equal to the first tithe and figured on the total earning or increase. This is another law of financing! Many have had the idea this is to be saved when a family can afford it, or if any is left over after the bills are paid. And for this reason many who should be attending God's Feast of Tabernacles every fall, are not there! God instructs us in Deu. 14:22-23, "Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, or thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; THAT THOU MAYEST LEARN TO FEAR THE LORD THY GOD ALWAYS." How important is it? So important that God commands it — it is not a suggestion — it is the only way to learn how to enjoy life and handle your finances! This is not money to go into God's Church for the gospel. It is your own "VACATION FUND" to travel to God's commanded Feast Days. Those who do not save this tithe DO NOT FEAR AND TREMBLE before God and are going the way that leads to total bankruptcy and total financial failure in less than 15 years! At that time money will be worthless! Those who now have a love in this world for riches will abhor the thought of money and beg forgiveness from God. God help us to set our minds on the proper use of money now so we can gain the true spiritual riches when Jesus Christ returns! Next there is still a vitally important law of financing which God tells us to set aside. This is what we clarify in principle as the THIRD TITHE! Again, it is 10% of the total amount of income, equal in amount to the first tithe and the second tithe. This, however, is not taken every month or every year. It is to be taken only two times in a seven-year period counted from the year you are baptized. The two years you save this tithe are the third and sixth. In each of these years you must set aside 10% of that particular year's increase. This tithe is to be used in God's Church for a special purpose. "At the end of three years THOU SHALT BRING FORTH ALL THE TITHE OF THINE INCREASE THE SAME YEAR, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: and the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee), and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest" (Deut. 14:28-29). God gives us a special opportunity to be of service in this way to those who have no means of providing for themselves. The third tithe year is something to make plans for during the two years leading into the third. For example, a new car should not be purchased in the third tithe year if it will interfere with bills and payments ordinarily incurred. Buy a car, if needed, during the two years prior. Any other large purchases such as major appliances or furniture should be purchased in the same manner. Many are caught at this time with big bills and then reason God does not expect them to pay third tithe. Brethren, these tithes — all three of them — ARE ABSOLUTELY COMMANDED OF GOD!! It is necessary to pay them if we ever expect to learn how to properly manage our finances and get out of financial adversity — to ever know what it is like not to have bill collectors or to have valuable items repossessed. Once these tithes are appropriately set aside you are ready to apportion your earnings to your needs and the needs of your family. This will naturally vary greatly depending upon the section of the country in which you live. But there are definite principles which you must follow if you properly budget your money and expect to know how it is spent. Often a member brings financial problems to one of God's ministers. When we ask how they presently spend their money, very few are able to account for more than the major expenses. In working out problems it is necessary to keep records of approximately how much you spend for groceries, entertainment, clothing, car expense, and other minor items. If you do not keep somewhat of a record, you will not know how to save or cut down expenses. And it well could be you have not used the money you do have very wisely!
How Much for Rent?
How much should you spend for rent? What should the average family's grocery bill be? Let's assume you are the average American family of four. Your two children play an important part in your planning. The chances are you make an average salary of approximately $100.00 per week or nearly $5,000.00 per year. However, many who live in rural areas don't make this much. There are widows and pensioners who only have small incomes. No matter how much less or more than this average you make, it still is necessary to handle your money wisely to use it to the maximum. The rule of thumb is not to spend more than 25% of your monthly income — after taxes and tithes are removed — for RENT. Your total housing expense — rent or mortgage payment, utilities and repairs should not be over this percentage. This is a major item. If you are older and have already purchased your home, this will help greatly. Most must reconcile themselves to this high rent and adjust wherever they can. The place to adjust is not from tithes — it is from living expense which is to follow.
When you have a place to live, groceries and foodstuffs are the next most important items. The average here is to spend about 20% of the monthly income. Of course this is up to a point — and larger salaries can apportion a greater percent to other needs. Your grocery bill should include the ordinary household items purchased at the grocery store. Those in farming communities will naturally have a much lower food bill than those in metropolitan areas. So learn what is best for you. Families with numerous children must see that their budget allows for an adequate, wholesome diet. Food is not the place to skimp. Cut down elsewhere in your wants. If you are careful, watch for specials, learn to eat more fruits and vegetables than meat, you will cut down enormously. Many are totally unaware of the cost of certain items. Often wives are in too big a hurry to notice prices. In this department the wife plays a very important part. A woman who does not know how to buy or prepare food is a handicap to the family. But a diligent and wise woman is prized above rubies (Prov. 31:10). If you will read Prov. 31 you will see how a woman can save in the family budgeting. "She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens" (v. 15), "... with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard" (v. 16), "She perceiveth that her merchandise is good" (v. 18), "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness" (v. 27), "Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates" (v. 31). If care is used along with wisdom the bills can be cut and the family can actually eat better. From now on there are many minor expenses. It is in these that a family can become bogged down and have financial worry and grief. Automobile insurance, expense to travel for church services, if you live in a church area, expense for travel to work, and repairs, become the next most important. Without transportation you perhaps will be without a means to earn a living. Selecting an automobile you can afford and keeping it up are very important. Insurance for your car and any life insurance you may carry should be kept within your range. In some cases people go in the hole on insurance they do not even need. In all cases carry at least the minimum insurance required by the State. Some, who have neglected to carry insurance find after an accident that they are facing economic ruin. Remember, to buy auto insurance is the best way to save money! If you think accidents cannot happen, read the article on "Accidents Do Happen!" in a past issue of the Good News. Never let this get out of the proportion of about 5%. Clothing will be a major item if you have growing children. Here you must buy what you can afford — looking for sales and specials, but without compromising on quality! This should also be about 5% of the monthly income. Perhaps other incidentals can be purchased at random when you can cut corners and save. All-in-all, there is not much more that can be done on the average salary. Certain sacrifices must be made. Be willing to go without until you have the financial means. Keep in mind, also, that these percentages may vary greatly according to your needs. It may not cost nearly as much for you to provide transportation in some areas as in others. But juggle them to fit your entire income. What each of us must do is calculate how we can arrive at a means of balancing our budgets to fit our needs.
Don't Live Beyond Your Means
Part of the problem is that many people want to live above and beyond their means and invariably find themselves in trouble! Many purchases are bought in haste and regret follows when payments cannot be made. As stated earlier, learn to be satisfied with what you have — improve as you learn, and with care! "Keeping up with the Joneses" is an old adage that has a lot of truth in it. For too often families buy something out of covetousness, or jealousy for what someone else has. Even people in God's Church can be guilty of this. When one brother is able to buy a new set of furniture for the living room, another brother, feels he has to keep up or people will not want to come to his house. This is a major cause for financial woe. One family found itself in trouble by building up large charge accounts — always hoping to pay for it later. They bought expensive clothing and household items. The advertisement about "only $.50 a day" looked cheap. But after several such purchases he found himself obligated for over $100.00 per month for the next three years and more. He couldn't make payments and lost everything plus his original investment of quite a sum. This brings up a question many have asked: "Should we have charge accounts?" Or, "what about credit cards?" An ordinary charge account can be a good thing IF it is used properly — if it is a convenience and not a handicap. NOT all people can handle them because some will invariably overcharge. Others can keep them within their budget and are able to purchase things they would have had to wait several months for. You must judge yourself. It is better, in many cases, not to use them. To pay cash is far better. In making long term or monthly payments you will usually have to pay at least 10% interest — (don't let the signs fool you on low interest) — it is a large amount in the long run. However, some of us could not purchase these items if it were not for charge accounts — learn to use them properly and as little as possible. Naturally a new home will have to be financed in most cases. If you ever will be buying a home it is accepted generally to pay about three times your annual income for the home. So if you are the average American making $5000 a year you should purchase a home for about $15,000 — financing it for 20 or 25 years will bring your payments including interest and insurance to about $100 a month in most cases. But many try to move into a $20,000 home and find they lose their entire investment. So use caution in purchasing a new home and be certain you can afford the payments according to your salary. Also, each family should be laying aside a small sum for funeral expenses. Perhaps the cheapest way is to purchase burial insurance if you have first carefully examined it. After all these necessities, you have still not cared for everything. One major item has been left till the last for a specific reason. If we faithfully use wisdom and discretion and OBEDIENTLY use our money as God commands, He has promised to bless us even more. And according to these blessings we give God special thanks as our ability allows. God indicts this nation for ROBBING Him. When asked how we have robbed Him, God answers, "IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS" (Mal. 3:8). And the Apostle Paul added in II Cor. 9:6-9, "Mark this: he who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and he who sows GENEROUSLY will reap a generous harvest. Everyone is to give what he has made up his mind to give; there is to be no grudging or compulsion about it, for GOD LOVES THE GIVER WHO GIVES CHEERFULLY. God is able to bless you with ample means, so that you may always have quite enough for any emergency of your own and ample besides for any kind act to others..." (Moffat Translation). God has granted us abundance — even if it is a small amount — and we are commanded to express our appreciation to him in special offerings. Further, we can have a great part in the very work of God by pledging to the property fund — this is equally important in your handling of finances. There can be no greater blessing than you have in being a part of the final end-time WORK OF JESUS CHRIST. Although these may be last mentioned, they are by no means least important. Do your best to extend wherever possible to make your part here even greater! These are principles to guide you in directing your income more efficiently. These are not musts in every case. There are many exceptions to rules of budgeting. The main thing is for you to learn where you can cut or save — to be aware of how you are spending what GOD HAS GIVEN YOU! Learn to manage God's way should be a motto in your life. Consider now why you want your financial worries solved. Is it so you can afford more and better possessions in this world? Or is it so you can have a greater, more active part in God's Work? James said, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that YE MAY CONSUME IT UPON YOUR LUSTS" (James 4:3). If you have wanted more money out of a lust for material wealth, if you have vanity and only want to keep up with the neighbors, if you are jealous of another's prosperity, the chances are God will never add an increase to you. YOU MUST LEARN THE LESSON of TOTAL SELFLESSNESS and have an attitude of GIVING! Then God will make it possible for you to have the active, PROSPEROUS life that leads to satisfaction in serving! You will be a better manager and God WILL increase your income.