Hey Girl, God Doesn’t Need Your Money

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Even to this day, tithing can be a very difficult subject within the church. The topic usually comes with the groans of hypocrisy and chants of “I don’t got it.” I’m just here to enlighten you by giving you some biblical context on the matter: tithing is pretty easy once you school yourself on the purpose of God’s intention for us. I’m, most importantly, going to tell you that tithing is not an obligation, it’s a PRIVILEGE. Remember, everything we have comes from God.

Let’s face it, in this economy living paycheck to paycheck is way more common than I would like, and many of us have mountains of student loans and credit card debt. When you finally begin “adulting,” your paycheck feels it’s gone before it even hits your account.

Where does tithing fit into our budget? I would, convincingly, debate with myself that God wouldn’t want me to be broke, and the Old Testament was just that, old. They didn’t have bills in Israel. God would keep blessing me no matter what, right?

So let me tell you it didn’t work that way. I found myself blowing money fast and feeling guilty for not giving God his due. I convinced myself that I “needed” the rest of that money. Then I realized that I was making tithing a chore instead of an expression of love, worship, and faith to God my Father. So, I gave all my money to God, out of obedience. I put it under His control and gave as much as I felt led to give. And as shocking as it seemed to me, I didn’t go broke and end up in the street. In fact, God provided in the most crucial of times. Maybe you’ll experience this. Maybe you wont. I’m also not suggesting that we tithe to be blessed. But surrendering my money to God convinced me that I needed to give up the idea of giving God the minimum.

I’m making a bold statement here, but if you say you can’t afford to pay your tithes, then I would argue that you haven’t really dedicated your life to God. You’re still sitting on the outskirts of your “potential relationship” with the Him, and you’re probably negotiating with God about what you will or won’t do in your relationship with him.

Read this article by Dr. George Bullard.

So, as believers, we give because God calls us to give and because all that we have is His, not because we’re supposed to. If we think of tithing as just a rule instead of seeing giving as an act of grace and love, we can easily miss the point. God gave us His son, and then Jesus gave His life. I mean, that wasn’t 10 percent, that was the whole thing!

 *cues Here I Am* I’ll never know how much it cost, to see my sins, up on that cross!

Why You Should Say No to That Store Charge Card

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

by Eunice Armstrong

"Would you like to save an extra 10 percent today?"

How many times do you hear that while checking out? Retailers train their employees to pitch to you and convince you of the perks and benefits of signing up for their credit card. Just because a store offers you a tempting discount to sign up on the spot doesn't mean that you should do it. If you’re about to make a $200 purchase, the cashier will quickly indicate to you that using the card will save you $20. Now, this expensive purchase seems less expensive but let’s consider what owning a store card really means beyond that initial price break.

There are generally two different categories of store credit cards. Private-label retail cards, which can only be used at the retailer that sponsors it. These are generally easy for people with low credit scores to obtain because the underwriting standards are more lax than those of traditional credit cards. But if establishing credit is your primary goal, why not seek a secured credit card instead? They have lower interest rates and much easier to maintain. The other kinds are co-branded store credit cards, which are sponsored by the retailer but backed by one of the major networks: Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. These cards can be used at nearly any retailer, just like a traditional credit card product. Alas, underwriting standards on these type of cards are the same as traditional credit card products, so consumers with low credit scores or shallow credit history won't qualify.

Keep in mind that a store’s primary focus is always about getting the customer back into the store to spend more money. It can take a significant amount of spending just to reach the different tiers and to actually enjoy some benefits of the rewards program. Take time to consider if you are even shopping at the store frequently. The annual percentage rates on these products tend to run high, 22.9 percent is a common APR on such cards. In a few months, your 10 percent discount has been eaten up by finance charges. Undisciplined shoppers could easily rack up a bill they can't afford to pay off at the end of the month, which would negate the value of any rewards or discounts you’ve just “earned” on the purchases.

If you do decide to take your favorite retailer up on an offer, make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions. Check to see if the card carries an annual fee and what the APR will be once any deferred-interest promotions lapse. You should also ask at the register how you can pay your bill, because in order to qualify for the promotional discount, that day's purchases will typically be charged to the new card. You could easily miss your first card payment, incurring late fees, interest and other potential penalty charges. Like any financial decision in your life, make sure you are well informed and understand the implications of your choices.

Seven Ways to Get Your Debt in Formation

“. . . To whom much is given, much is required . . . ” Luke 12:48  

Guess what? God has a purpose when it comes to your finances. Was that a groundbreaking statement? No, but it baffles me when I hear people talk about their finances with no mention of the Lord because he is in the details. He did not call us to be slaves to money or debt. In fact, financial freedom is attainable and easier than you think. This series will help empower you to take hold of your finances and make financially sound decisions in the future. I mean, how can God trust you with $100 if you can’t handle $10?

1. Establish your budget.

So you’re in debt but brunching every Sunday after church service. Don’t forget the unlimited mimosas. Yikes. Be honest with yourself about your financial situation. Where is your money going? Create a budget and hold yourself accountable. Actually, have your friends hold you accountable too. “Hey, I can’t brunch today ‘cause you know, this credit card debt is not gonna pay itself, but why don’t you come over and we can cook something?” Snap. Snap.

2. Know who and how much you owe.

This one may seem elementary, but when was the last time you made of a checklist of the debt you owe? Do you know who owns your debt? Due dates? Amount owed? How much of the debt is principal? Interest? You can confirm this list against your credit report, which is free to obtain, and this also gives you a chance to make sure there are no mistakes on the report. Keep your list as a guide, checking periodically, especially as you are making bill payments. This becomes a working document (meaning it’s constantly evolving), not something set in stone like the 10 Commandments.

3. Get your debt in formation.

After making your list of who and what you owe, prioritize your repayment. Credit cards usually get first dibs because of their high-interest rates. The one with the highest interest rate costs you the most money so try to pay that one down first. That’s a pretty aggressive approach, but I’m a pretty aggressive person. If you’re more into baby steps, start off with the one with the lowest balance.

4. Pay your bills on time

Did you know your payment history is a determining factor of your FICO score? I’m pretty sure if someone owed you money you wouldn’t want to hear, “Can I pay you next month?” multiple times. Make your bills a priority because with late payments come late fees, higher interest rates, and finance charges, oh my.

5. Make at least the minimum payment, and then some

I get it. Sometimes the minimum payment is all you have. I like to do little trick of rounding up to the nearest hundred when paying a bill. Ex: The credit card minimum payment for the month is $89.07. I will pay $100.00.  This helps me finish paying off a bill just a little but faster than expected. May not seem like much, but a little goes a long way.

6. Get Social

If you’re reading this, it’s 2017, and there’s this pretty cool thing called an app. If you’re a millennial who is completely stuck to your phone, why not download a couple of financial apps to make your finances a little easier to manage. Some free ones: CreditKarma, Mint. Follow a couple of finance gurus on Instagram for daily motivation: @myfabfinance @thefinancebar If you’re on your phone 24/7 why not check your account balance every morning, so you’re aware of pending items? Or set up notifications when a credit inquiry hits or when a bill is paid. Just saying.

7. C.R.E.A.M – Cash Rules Everything Around Me

Hmmm. Was Wu Tang Clan on to something? Unlike many current rap songs, this song stressed the importance of obtaining money, as opposed to spending it.  Halt credit card spending. Delete credit card information from online stores, so you’re not tempted to indulge in BOGO sale from Bloomies at 8 AM in the morning. Form a habit. Try to use cash, as your primary method of payment for one month, and you’ll see how much you have available.  You also won’t be able to spend more than budgeted.

Let’s face it. Talking about money is tough. Being in debt is even tougher. It takes patience, focus, and determination to overcome debt and to be in a position where you feel secure and stable. I hope this article was at least a stepping-stone to propel you in the right direction.

Next up in the series: Credit Management