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My Faith and My Finances

My Faith and My Finances

| September 29, 2017

Saving and spending.

They are two sides of the same coin.

When is spending a good idea?

Where does giving fall in? Is giving a form of spending?

I’m going to tread dangerous ground. I’m going to get on a touchy subject today- giving and faith, my faith and my finances.

This is through the lens of my world view. I’m going to get raw and real about what happens in our house.

Let's think about these questions…

How much do you give to others? An even better question might be- how much should you give to others?

Should we stay focused solely on our retirement? Should we pay for our kids education?

These are tough questions my friends.

We are each brought up differently with an assortment of values and certainly these values guide and direct our thoughts.

My business partner, Roger, and his wife give small amounts of money to dozens of different organizations. They give to environmental causes and social causes and pretty much any cause that seems worthy.

What’s the right thing to do?

How Do I Think of Giving?

For me, giving is an important part of my faith. This means that we have that much less to save. We sacrifice in other areas in order make giving happen.

My wife and I tithe 10% of our net income to our church. Maybe you think that’s too much?

That’s not all…

On top of that, we give another $1,500 a year as a scholarship to the business school at our alma mater- Seattle Pacific University.

You may be wondering- why do you do this?

For me, I believe that when you give that you receive. This may be in the form of a financial blessing or a social blessing or a mental blessing.

I also believe that I have decided in my heart and my mind that this is a lifestyle. I don’t give because I have to or under some edict that I will go to the bottomless depths if I don’t.

We give because we want to make a difference and we believe in the cause.

We give because we believe that generous people will prosper.

We give because we have been given much ourselves and we believe that there is a responsibility to give back.

We give so that we don’t become too tied and dependent to money.

For me, the church we are a part of- I am very proud of and we as a family are very proud of. The church helps people all over the community and even all over world. There’s a great vision that we rally around. They have wonderful kids programs and we connect with the leadership and they speak into our lives.

We give not only with our financial resources, but also with our resource of time.

I volunteer as a security team member. My wife volunteers on the praise and worship team. The choice of giving is a weird position though, right?

This guy isn't quite sure about giving either...

We get this picture of religion as though the church is asking for everything from us. They want to squeeze the pennies out of us to pay the pastor or to funnel the money to someplace else.

On top of that, don’t they teach that money (or more exactly that the love of money) is the root of all evil?

Shouldn’t we sell all of our possessions and give them to the poor? Shouldn’t we be preaching on the street corner?

Those questions are tough ones.

However, I believe I can do more by saving now & reinvesting into the future by keeping the majority of my assets right now. Giving everything away that we have now isn’t the right answer. By saving now, we can sew more into the future.

At the same point, if we don’t give now, we aren’t practicing the spirit of giving. We’ll keep delaying and delaying and delaying and the habit is never established. Instead, we’ll cling and cling to what we have, never wanting to give it up until the day I die. We might say, tomorrow I’ll do it. When I am in a better position, I’ll do it.

Some folks delay, delay, and delay always intending for tomorrow- but that tomorrow never happens.

Ultimately, for my family and I----  we choose to give now ----  on top of saving now.

We give now because we support the mission and the cause. We want to put dollars where we speak and put dollars where our mouths and hearts are located. If we don’t, then the church will have that much less to operate on.

Maybe you think I’m a sucker. That’s okay. I’m good with that. I think there’s also a far more practical reason to tithe.

I also believe that tithing forces my family and I to live to less. We have to live leaner and meaner in order to make the tithing happen AND save for retirement.

If everything should fall apart and our income drop, our tithe would drop as well.  We could survive on a smaller budget (not that it wouldn’t be painful- cuz it sure would be) and still figure it out.

This is the reason that we don’t have car loans or student loans. This additional budget affords us the opportunity to give more.

However, giving becomes a sticking point and sometimes a sore point in our marriage because…

She Wants to Give More Than I Do

That’s right, my wife wants to give more. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine and ribbons when you give.

It’s a conversation that we grapple with in our house.

When is enough, enough? How much should we sacrifice of our retirement to support causes that are important to us?

My wife believes that we should tithe off of our revenue NOT net income.

She tells me outright that she disagrees that what we are tithing. She doesn’t think we are doing it right.

The room gets deathly silent as tension crackles in the air. You could hear a pin drop when we have these conversations from time to time.

Frankly, I get very defensive. From my perspective, I am the bread winner of the house. Thoughts pop into my head that I shouldn't mention here...

It definitely leads to some tension. She wants to give more. I want to save more today and pay off debts. I don’t mind giving a little more as part of that.

Definitely a point of tension.

A happy wife is a happy life and if I spoke those thoughts and emotions around them- I think would have an unhappy wife and a very unhappy life.

I know many physicians struggle with similar thoughts when they are sole breadwinners. I don’t have any major answers except to find a point of agreement.

She agrees that giving is still good, even though it isn’t as much as she would like. I agree to leave her alone on the job front and to tithe 10% of our net income rather than the revenue.

It’s a compromise. Compromise can be messy, but we can do it.

Final Thoughts

My friends, giving is a sacrifice. It also requires agreement in your relationship.

Maybe you are giving to friends or to family or to your church or to other organizations.

Maybe you aren’t?

I've been raw and real in sharing why we do what we do and how it impacts our thoughts and our relationship.

I would encourage you to examine your heart. Why are you giving? Alternatively, why are you not giving?

What is guiding those principles?

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to make an impact on this world?

Furthermore, how would that impact your retirement?

How are you tracking what you give? Or are you giving pretty aimlessly and not understanding the impact of your giving on your financial future?

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.


About the Author

Dave Denniston, CFA is a professional wealth manager and financial advisor located in Bloomington, MN. 

You can contact him at (800) 548-1820, at, or visit his website at to apply for a free 3o minute strategy session with him.

Advisory services through Capital Advisory Group Advisory Services LLC and securities through United Planners Financial Services of America, a Limited Partnership. Member FINRA and SIPC. The Capital Advisory Group Advisory Services, LLC (CAG) and United Planners Financial Services are not affiliated.

The views expressed are those of the presenter and may not reflect the views of United Planners Financial Services. Material discussed is meant to provide general information and it is not to be construed as specific investment, tax, or legal advice. Individual needs vary & require consideration of your unique objectives & financial situation.