10% // 5%

Money is a funny topic.  As soon as you bring up money with most people they start to freak out and get nervous.  Something I usually say to someone when they try to pay me back for the coffee is, "Don't worry about it, I am really rich."  Brooke doesn't like when I say it because she thinks people think I am serious.  Brooke and I are not really rich.  We are very well off compared to most people our age but we aren't upper class by any means.  I am talking about my personal financial situation, is it making you nervous? About a year ago I was re-reading Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz.  It's easily one of my favorite books of all time.  It's probably one of the only books I've read twice.  Donald has this really great chapter in that book about money and how about he wasn't giving money to God and his friend really convicted him to do so.  As I was reading about Donald not giving I really felt convicted that I had not been doing much with my money in terms of giving.  I would throw a check into the offering every now and then and I have a Compassion kid but I still felt like that wasn't enough.  I wasn't consistent in my giving at all.  I was giving out of guilt and as I was reading that chapter I knew that something had to change.

So a little over a year ago I told Brooke that we needed to get better at giving, but it was mostly on me since I handle the bills and finances.  Brooke and I don't get regular paychecks every two weeks like most people.  We get paid as we work for wedding, portraits, t-shirts and so on so I decided that I would handle all our giving in cash.  So every time I received a check I would take it to the bank, deposit it and take 10% out in cash.  I would put the cash in a bucket in our office and take it with us when we went to church.  The amount of freedom that comes with trusting God with your money is so rewarding.  Yes, giving away 10% of your money is hard and sometimes nerve racking, but it is also such a bold act of faith.  Since we've started trusting God with our finances in a real way we've been able to see miracles take place within our financial situation.  It's awesome.

So after about 7 months of giving 10% of all that way made away to our church I felt like I could do more.  That's the cool thing about giving, it inspires more giving within yourself and hopefully to others who notice.  So at 7 months into tithing I decided that I wanted to start to give 5% of our money away to people we know.  This is the type of giving that really excites me.  Now I love giving money to the church and we have continued to do that but we've also started taking an additional 5% out of what we make and putting it in another jar.  We call it the "5% Jar."

The only rule for the 5% Jar is that we have to use the money to bless someone in a way that they wouldn't expect it.  Our favorite way to do this is by leaving big tips for people.  We've tipped our hairdresser with it, we've bought pizza for the employees, we've just given it away.  It's so cool to randomly bless people.  We truly believe that God guides the 5% Jar and are constantly trying to use it on people who could use a little life bonus.  It's not charity, it's not something we give to people while thinking "We think you could use this."  We give it to them with the mindset of "Enjoy this, go out to eat, enjoy something you normally don't enjoy."

A 5% Jar recipient e-mailed us after she received her gift with this

I have been meaning to send you this for weeks now!  I cannot begin to thank you for your card & money! It seriously could not have come at a better time! It really means so much to us! Life has been so crazy!  What an awesome idea that you guys have blessing people like that!!  You guys are awesome, I look up to you both so much and am so thankful to know you both!

I read that e-mail when I am struggling with taking out that cash and trusting God with our financial situation.  His love is enough and He will see us through.

Now why I am sharing all this?  I am not trying to brag about how I give I am just trying to make it real for the people who struggle to give like I once did.  I think sometimes we can hold on to our money and things so tightly that they start to suffocate us.  We need to loosen the grip and start to give it away.  Giving takes practice, self-control and discipline.  It also takes a plan.  Don't be like I was and give when you feel guilty.  Set a number in your head.  For me it is 10% // 5% but maybe that is too much for you to start.  Maybe you can start with 1%.  Whatever you do, the most important thing to do is to start because if you don't start somewhere you never will.  If you don't give when bills are tight you won't give when they aren't.  Also, there are so many great churches and non-profits out there that need your money way more than you do.

Something I think about a lot is this.  Can I live with 15% less?  If 15% of all my stuff was wiped out right away, would I survive?  The answer is always yes.  I hear stories about people who give away 80-90% of all they own and while I am not there I hope to be someday.