No one has to incorporate all six pillars of Tiny Living, but try incorporating some or all of them into your lifestyle. You’ll increase your well-being and your spending power while lowering your negative impact on the environment.

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       I’ve written a good bit of material designed to free people from the idea that the tithe is something they must do under threat of a curse from God. The giving standards in the New Testament are very different (and actually much more challenging) than those in the Old Testament. The teachings and example of Christ guide us into a mindset of giving that’s based on love for God and others – not just promises of blessings or threats of a curse.

       But I also understand why some people like to use the tithe as their standard of giving. It’s simple, straightforward, and gives you a guideline you can start using right away. (Assuming, of course, that you don’t try to set up a ton of rules to help you figure out how to tithe just right.) Freewill, sacrificial, generous giving motivated by love just isn’t quite as easy to figure out as a flat 10%.

       I came across a concept that I think can be helpful as a starting point – a way to think and pray about giving that will help you figure out what God wants you to do in your situation while also protecting yourself from lifestyle inflation. It’s called graduated tithing. The name aside, I think it can be a good way to think about your giving. Coming up with your own plan gives you an opportunity to consciously seek God’s will for your giving. Let’s look at it in more depth.

The Graduated Tithe

       I first came across the idea in an article that Craig wrote at Money Help for Christians. The concept of the graduated tithe seems to have originated with Ronald Sider in his book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity.

       Ron explains it this way. First, you start with a base amount. His family decided on a base figure that includes the current poverty level for his family’s size, plus costs for Christian education and college expenses, plus taxes, plus genuine emergencies. His family tries to give 10% of that base amount. Then, for each $1,000 of income above that base amount, they give an additional 5%. An example will help you see what I’m talking about.

       Let’s say you choose a base amount of $40,000. Here is what your graduated tithe (or giving system) would look like:

Income % to Give $ to Give Total Income Total $ Given Total % Given
$40,000 10% $4,000 $40,000 $4,000 10.0%
next $1,000 15% $150 $41,000 $4,150 10.1%
next $1,000 20% $200 $42,000 $4,350 10.4%
next $1,000 25% $250 $43,000 $4,600 10.7%
next $1,000 30% $300 $44,000 $4,900 11.1%
next $1,000 35% $350 $45,000 $5,250 11.7%
next $1,000 40% $400 $46,000 $5,650 12.3%
next $1,000 45% $450 $47,000 $6,100 13.0%
next $1,000 50% $500 $48,000 $6,600 13.8%
next $1,000 55% $550 $49,000 $7,150 14.6%
next $1,000 60% $600 $50,000 $7,750 15.5%
next $1,000 65% $650 $51,000 $8,400 16.5%
next $1,000 70% $700 $52,000 $9,100 17.5%
next $1,000 75% $750 $53,000 $9,850 18.6%
next $1,000 80% $800 $54,000 $10,650 19.7%
next $1,000 85% $850 $55,000 $11,500 20.9%
next $1,000 90% $900 $56,000 $12,400 22.1%
next $1,000 95% $950 $57,000 $13,350 23.4%
next $1,000 100% $1,000 $58,000 $14,350 24.7%



       After you reach a total income of $57,000, you’ll be giving away 100% of any additional money you earn. If your income was $75,000, you’d be giving $31,350 under this system – a little over 40%. At $100,000, you’d be giving away $56,350 or just over 56%.

       To use the graduated tithe (or giving system, I just like that better), you’d want to update your base amount every year. This will help account for changes in your personal situation, taxes, and most importantly – God’s will. He may lead you to give more in some years by choosing a lower base amount or to give less by choosing a higher base amount.

A Few Caveats About the Graduated Tithe

       I share this idea with you not to enforce a legalistic standard but to offer an alternative that will help you focus on giving more and not becoming greedy as your income rises. If you decide to use the graduated tithe, you should be very careful if it makes you begrudge giving and takes away the joy of sharing. If you don’t have love and give cheerfully, it’s not going to matter how much you give. In that case, you’re going to have to seek God’s heart and ask Him to help you have His love develop in you.

       Also, you should use this example as a guide – not a law. If your family is in a situation where this can’t work for you right now, then adapt it to fit God’s will for your giving. You’ll need to go through this planning process with a lot of prayer and request guidance from the Holy Spirit, but it can be something that helps you give generously in your situation.

       I really want to emphasize the fact that you need to seek God’s will on this. You shouldn’t use the tithe, the graduate tithe, or any other giving system as a replacement for prayer and discernment. God will guide you as you seek to please Him. Make that your primary goal and He’ll help you figure out what the right amount is for you.

Your Thoughts

       What do you think of the graduated tithe? Let me know in the comments below!

This article was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance as an editor’s pick!

A student loan is considered to be an installment loan. Although the funds extended to the student for schooling purposes are actually a revolving account that doesn’t go away over time, it is still an installment loan. There are penalties for non-payment, garnishments can take place and even tax refunds can be taken for non-payment. If you have a co-signer or co-applicant on your student loan paperwork, the finance company will go after them if you miss a payment. Please note that not all installment loans are equal. Many times online installment loans are different and shorter term than compared to other loans.

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While Christianity is filled with competing voices like anything else, there are many things that I see as common sense. One of these is caring for the environment. Maybe I am naive, but I think it only makes sense that God would want everyone to care for the world that God created. Why would any creator create something and not care if anyone destroyed it? To put it simply, God DOES care whether we preserve the environment that we are responsible for.

This may sound a little idealistic to many of my readers. And in many ways, it is. It is idealistic. It is one of those “perfect world” attributes. It’s idealistic because real life is much more complicated than caring for the environment or not. Most of us probably drove to work today, emitting CO2 along the way. It’s easy for someone else to say that you need to take public transportation, live within walking distance, or bike to work, but it’s much more complicated than that, isn’t it? We obviously need to work and earn a living for our families, but at what cost to the environment. Until recently, there was no easy solution to this dilemma.

What’s changed? The introduction of the hybrid or the eco friendly car. Along with the invention of hybrid or electric cars, we have seen the fuel efficiency increased of cars and the potential for decreasing the CO2 emissions. Today, I’d like to talk about whether the hybrid is a necessity for bible-believing Christians.

Green Bible Verses

For those who don’t agree with my basic premise that environmental concern is a Christian theme, here are several passages that illustrate the green theme within the Bible.

Genesis 1:31

“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

Numbers 35:33-34

“‘Do not pollute the land where you are… 34 Do not defile the landwhere you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.’”

 Psalm 19:1

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”

Revelation 11:18b

…destroying those who destroy the earth. 

While I don’t have time to give the context of each of the above passages, suffice it to say that each one supports this idea of preserving God’s creation. Throughout the Bible we are told to preserve that which God has given us. Why would the earth be any different?

Why You Should Get a Hybrid

Getting a hybrid car may seem like an unnecessary expense (or too costly of an expense to justify the reward), but it is well worth it. In fact, there are a number of benefits for getting a hybrid.

  • Lower Fuel Costs - The obvious savings on gas is huge. If you look at the best green cars and see that they get 50% better MPG, that means your fuel costs are 2/3 of what they used to be.
  • Less CO2 Emissions - While this may also be obvious, people fail to realize how much lower Carbon Dioxide levels benefit them. It not only means less pollution to the earth, but also lower rates of environment-caused diseases/medical conditions.
  • Increased Focus on Hybrids by Manufacturers - Another benefit of buying a green car is that it notifies manufacturers that consumers want more fuel efficient cars. Manufacturers want to make a profit, so they will target their products appropriately. Think about how big of a change the car industry could have if consumers demanded more fuel efficient cars. It is starting to move that way now with completely electric cars, but it still has a long way to go.

While it may take a few more years for hybrid cars to become popular, it doesn’t mean that you should wait. The increased affordability and instant savings in gas should be enough. If it isn’t, consider your ethical commitments to preserve that which God created.

Applying for a home loan isn’t always just a personal experience; you may want to consider making an application in the name of a company or a trust. So is that actually possible and what are the positives and negatives?

Trusts in particular are popular for protection of assets, and tax advantages. It’s important to know where you stand if you’re attempting to borrow as a trust, or as a company; will it really be advantageous?

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When you have bad credit, securing a loan for any purpose is a challenge. The more inquiries you have into your credit report, the harder it will be to obtain the loan. It is ideal to try and clear up a few small accounts on your credit report before applying for a loan to aid your chances of approval. There are a few other options discussed below to help you get the funds you need quickly.

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If you have been injured in an accident or you have won a worker’s compensation claim or you have won a settlement for the wrongful death of a person you depended upon, then in all probability you will get the compensation you are to receive in the form of an annuity. This annuity pays out awards from any form or type of legal settlement or lottery winnings or as has been mentioned earlier, any award from worker’s compensation claim or personal injury case in the manner of a periodic inflow of cash which has a number of tax advantages added with it. This sort of annuity scheme is called a structured settlement which is the most beneficial and most advantageous way to avail money to be received in the form of settlements.

The many advantages of structured settlements

There are many benefits of structured settlements, the most noteworthy among which is the exemption from all form of taxes, be it state taxes or federal taxes or local income taxes. This means that the savings of the investor in structured settlements is much higher than the investor in any other securities. In addition to this the fact that this form of annuities does not depend at all on any economic condition and the payment can be scheduled upon your wish and desire and can be deferred or may begin immediately makes up for the icing on the cake.

What is a cash annuity and what are its variables?

If at any moment you find yourself trapped in any financial difficulties and are in dire need of cash then you may sell your annuity and upon the determination, receive a lump sum amount in lieu of your future annuity incomes. In determination of the amount one will have a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, these are as follows:

  • Interest rate – The interest rate plays a crucial factor in determining the amount one receives on sale of annuity.

  • Inflation – The ongoing rate of inflation in the economy will also affect the amount receivable on the sale of the annuity.

  • Payments- The amount of annuity that one wants to sell will also be a factor in determining the cash amount which will be received by the investor wanting to sell the annuity.

  • Demand- At last, the demand for the payments will also affect the scales when it comes to determining the amount that you are likely to receive upon sale of the annuity.

The benefits of selling structured settlement annuities

When one decides to sell off structured settlement annuities, he or she is subjected to a number of benefits. These advantages are enumerated as below:

  • Liquidity – Probably the most important factor of selling structured settlement annuities, liquidity assures you that you will not be cash strapped. This liquidity backs individuals not only financially but also mentally to go ahead with their dreams, plans and ideas. Whenever facing a financial crisis, you can encash your structured settlements and get lump sum cash.

  • Time value of money – When one sells structured settlement annuities, one can also take advantage of time value of money. Generally, it is seen that the rate of earning in case of the money in hand is much more than the amount which may be received on a future date. Inflation reduces the future value of money and hence the earning capacity is much more if the amount is given a chance to earn interest.

Slow annuities – what are they and what are their benefits

Slow annuities generally refer to normal annuities which cannot be cashed when one desires i.e. in the contract of the annuity with the company there is no clause as to sell the annuity before its maturity. These annuities are suitable for those who are assured that they will not be subjected to any financial problems. There are a number of benefits of these annuities as well such as:

  • Tax Free: Most of such annuities are freed from the burden of tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This implies that your savings will be more.

  • Not affected by the economic condition: These annuities are not at all affected by the economic situation and are hence risk free.

Why opt for selling them off rather than clinging on?

When one has to make a choice between encashing now and letting the annuities continue, one must weigh in pros and cons of both and after careful analysis it will be evident that it is far better to go for the former:

  • An investor is assured of availability of cash in his hour of need.

  • Money which is in hand at the moment, if invested will fetch a lot much more than the amount which one will receive after a decade or any time period.

  • In case of slow annuities, IRS applies penalties and a huge surrender charge also has to be paid if one withdraws fund before the completion of age of 59 and half years.

  • With the rise in inflation the actual value of money that one receives in a slow annuity is less.

So, now that you are aware of all the factors as to why encashing now scores over slow annuities, invest wisely and efficiently!