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Tithing and budgeting

December 15, 2009

I have felt rather ambivalent to tithing. Since I’m recovering from a chronic allergy to working for pay, I can say that I’ve been able to get out of all of my recommend interviews as a 100% worthy member without paying a cent of tithe. (*sigh* this probably exposes me as a spoiled brat though).

So, I haven’t thought about it much. I don’t think I’m opposed to the concept, but I’m not all that thrilled either. Then again, I like the alternative tithe idea better (e.g., Not a member? Not comfortable with coughing money to the church? Save up 10% anyway and give it to some other group or cause that you care about.)

One thing that has bothered me is the LDS motif of tithing as intense sacrifice. People in destitute conditions who have next to nothing (and ramping debts and needs) are praised if they but give their share to the Lord…even if it seems to break the bank in the process. The idea? The Lord rewards.

I guess if someone wants to believe this, fine. I mean, I’m not totally against these faith promoting stories or any one’s personal anecdotes. However, I just wonder how financially sound that could be. Oh, I guess that’s just my heretic showing.

Anyway, as I’ve been thinking about the next semester and my family, I’ve been thinking about money more.

Next semester is my paid internship with a Big 4 accounting firm…my first real job. I will have to break out of several of my sheltered molds (driving…an apartment with rent…food from other places than fast food or campus restaurants…Geez, I’m pretty pathetic, guys.) and I’m somewhat apprehensive, but also somewhat excited.

But…the costs!

The apartment costs one thing. But I also have to pay for my dorm while I’m away! And I have a minimester before my internship, so I still have tuition and fees (it’s crazy how they can squish the cost of a full semester into a minimester that is a fraction of the length.)

And this raises greater conundrums. My minimester begins on January 4th. My dorm (which, I’ll remind you again, I’m paying for a whole semester, even though I won’t be living in it after mid February) doesn’t open until January 14th. So, I have to hotel somewhere until then. More costs.

Funding has been…awkward. I do have scholarships that cover for everything normal, so even though I’m paying for tuition, room, board, I have enough to cover that. My parents gladly offered to cover my hotel. My internship will provide the way for covering the apartment (and then some).

Honestly, I’ve kept myself aloof of the cold, hard numbers. This could either be great for my sanity or terrible for my finances. I hope there are no unpleasant surprises.

…so…why have I been talking about tithing? Am I preparing to become a full-time, worthy, active member any time soon? No, although it’s times like these that I begin to realize why some nonbelieving members stay for the social network that the Mormon church provides…moving to a new city is tough on your own (and that’s even with my parents and all of their relatives being *from* said city.)

Instead, it’s my parents. My mom lets out hints about tithing every so often, and my dad comments. My dad is a believer in tithing and its benefits, and so he makes sure — no matter what — that tithing is settled satisfactorily.

OK, OK, it’s his money. I don’t have an issue with it. But…what grinds at me are his comments…he worries if things will meet in a pinch. How can an unexpected hotel cost be factored into the budget? And oh! The heating system at home broke and needed to be fixed (darn these Oklahoma ice storms!)

I know that it’s a consciousness of growing up…as a kid, I needed not worry about such talk of finances. But now I feel intricately involved…as a leech. Feels bad, man.

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