We've all heard the phrase work-life balance. Similarly, two of the principles that I strive to live by are frugality towards self and generosity towards others. Or, to coin a new phrase, frugal-generous balance. To that end, I try to give away roughly 15% or more of my gross income each year. The first 10% goes straight to my local church. And the remaining 5% or more goes to various not for profits and charitable organizations.
So, how did I do in 2013? Well, it looks as if I gave away roughly 14% of my gross income, thereby missing my goal by at least 1%.
I admit that last year was a bit of an anomaly. Without steady employment, it's a bit harder to be consistent about giving. As a consultant, I wound up working only 10 months out of the 12 on two very different long-term assignments. Plus, December was one of the busiest months ever in both my personal and professional life. That's not really an excuse for missing my annual giving goal, but it does explain why I was a bit surprised when I crunched the numbers.
So this year, I'll try to be more proactive in terms of giving. I've already set a reminder for myself to do a quick check up in October and/or early November, just as I would with my savings plan.
As a side note, I learned the principles of tithing and generosity at a very early age from my parents. When I started working, I asked my mom whether I should tithe based on gross or net income. I'll never forget her response. In her heavily accented English she said, "Tithe on gross, receive gross blessings. Tithe on net, receive net blessings." I had to laugh. I'm not saying that I agree entirely with her theology. There have been many, many articles written on the so called health and wealth gospel, seemingly overlooking vast sections of the Bible that refer to suffering and persecution. But I do appreciate my mom's heart. It's a good thing that God doesn't give us what we deserve. That's grace, in a nut shell. But if we're stingy towards God, we can't exactly complain when God doesn't shower us with blessings in return.