Christian Financial Alliance: How to Balance Giving and Saving

The Christian Financial Alliance  was created to help readers.  The idea is this:  Create a panel of biblical finance gurus.  People who take seriously the call to teach the Bible accurately with grace and truth.  Once a month, we post a question with a response from our panel to provide you with well-rounded, sound, biblical advice.  For more on the Christian Financial Alliance (or to join our team) click here.

How do you balance the biblical principle of saving up for the future and the biblical principle of giving generously?

“We like to plan for both giving and saving in our budget as I believe we’re encouraged to do both in the bible.  “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5) “..the righteous gives and does not hold back.” (Proverbs 21:26)  In our budget we make sure that our giving and saving categories are taken care of right away at the beginning of the month. So for giving we have budgeted 10% of our income to go to our church right off the top.  We also have budgeted for extra giving on top of that for the next couple of years for some campaigns at our church – as well as just some general money for giving to things we feel lead to support.  As far as saving we also budget for that every month setting up automatic transfers to save for future needs (new cars, vacations/etc) and for retirement via Roth IRA and 401k.  Balancing the giving and saving is something we constantly have to be thinking about because there is a danger to save too much or get too attached to things or safety, and in the end, that can lead to having money (or other things) become our idol.  “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”  (Mark 8:36)”

“If I had the answer to this, I’d be the Protestant Pope. ;-)   Here’s how my pastor explained it to me (and I think it works): First of all, the tithe (10%) comes off the top. After that, any money given needs to be determined by the individual (or couple) after prayer. God calls different people to give different amounts, so there’s no “right” answer as to what should be given after the tithe.  Given this, I recommend starting with the 10-10-80 budget — 10% given away, 10% saved, and 80% on living expenses. As time goes on, people earn more, etc., the “10s” should get bigger and the “80″ should get smaller.” –

“Our family stretches our faith and trusts God first with giving.  Saving is second to our giving and what we believe is the amount God places on our hearts to give each month.  While this leaves less on the table for saving for emergencies or investing for the future, we ultimately are confident in God providing for our needs.  We also know that in order to save adequately, we must spend less.  This is a faith and life style choice we make as financial stewards.” –

“Personally, I try to limit the amount I save so that it’s prudent and reasonable for providing for our future needs (but not all our wants).  Then, I look at how we’re spending our money so that we can free up more resources for giving.  Finally, I focus on being generous with everything we have – not just what we’ve set aside as “giving”.”-

“I think the answer is found in balance.  It’s one of those funny things that we think is an all or nothing item, when in reality, it is very easy to do both.  And we are clearly instructed by the Bible to both give and save. The scripture praises both the generous and the prudent, as well as chastises the over-spender and the hoarder alike.  The perfect balance is a bit of a juggling act that keeps us in constant communication with the Lord through prayer and reflection.  This is intentional so that we will seek Him in the process.  And finally, we must recognize that these numbers will ebb and flow as we progress through life. ” –

“This question is best addressed by assigning names to each end of the spectrum.  I put squandering on one end and hoarding on the other.  We obviously don’t want to be either of those.  Personally, I don’t think we as Christians ever find a perfect balance, but we vacillate back and forth in search for the perfect medium.   It requires that we’re in touch with the ways that God is leading us financially, and we’re constantly allowing the Truth of scripture to challenge our lives. I think the point we feel like we’ve mastered it is also the point that we become less attentive to God’s working in our lives.  It’s a Godly tension (saving and giving) that must remain.” –

“It’s all a matter of priorities.  If you think about it, there are only five main things you can do with money once you have some.  You can spend it, use it to make debt payments, save it, invest it, and give it away.  And that’s the typical order.  We start making some money and think first about how we can spend it — where we can live, what we can drive.  When spending comes first, debt usually comes along, so debt payments are the next priority.  If anything’s left over, some might be saved, invested, and given away.  But there’s not usually much, if anything, left over.  Of course, the Bible teaches a different approach.  We are to give a “firstfruits” gift, which is a first priority gift.  We are then cautioned about debt and encouraged to save.  So, how do you balance giving and saving?  You give off the top, save and/or invest the next portion, and then decide how much you can spend on housing, clothing, and all the rest.  Along the way, you avoid the bondage of debt — no credit card balances, no financed vehicles, no debt except a reasonable mortgage.” –

“I think that if you want to succeed in saving for the future while being generous today, you need to make clear goals for how you give/save each dollar.  There’s wisdom in these simple principles of budgeting because it allows us to set aside money to give while also meeting financial obligations (bills, future savings, etc).  We can’t ignore saving for the future, but we also know that the Bible tells us “where your treasures are, there your heart will be also.”  If we make generosity a priority while also maintaining a healthy future savings (10-20%), I think the balance will come naturally for each person.”

“It all comes down to what you give God first.  Ask yourself, “do i give the Lord my best?”  If you are giving your bread crumbs, there is a serious issue there.  Christians need to realize that God expects us to give faithfully.  It’s not an excuse to not save for retirement, but retirement should not be our sole focus in life.  There is a Biblical balance to finances and giving generously.  At the end of the day, we need to be answering God with faithful obedience, no matter how much He is calling us to give.” –

For more on the Christian Financial Alliance (or to join our team) click here.

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